Online Resources for Teaching and Learning Chinese

Get clear on some perplexing Chinese grammars, understand unique features of Chinese language, take the best way of learning Chinese, practice the art of story telling, and more.

We hope some of the ideas presented here may bring out a change in how Chinese is learned and taught.

Great Resources to Broaden Minds


Books about China

The easiest way to gain understanding of China is to read about China. When reading Chinese is difficult, students can read books written in English.

Books about famous Chinese people

Read about well known Chinese people who have left permanent marks in Chinese history. These books, written in English, are must reads. 

Books about famous foreigners in China

Read about famous foreigners in China, who have had a huge influence on the course of Chinese development in various areas.

Chinese movies to learn Chinese

Great classic Chinese movies

We all enjoy a good movie. Try these classic Chinese movies and also learn some Chinese while you are watching. 

Clear up Some Confusing Grammar Points


Two in Chinese

二 (èr) and 两 (liǎng)

There are two ways to say “two” in Chinese. Learn when to use which one.

de in Chinese

的 (de) - a structural particle in Chinese

When learning Chinese, it is important to understand the function of (de).

le in Chinese

了 (le) does not indicate past tense

(le) does not indicates past tense. It’s about change.

jiu in chinese

The often overlooked Chinese character - 就 (jiù)

Understand the origin of the character (jiù) and how it is used in different contexts.

yi dianr and you yi dianr

一点儿 (yī diǎnr) and 有一点儿 (yǒu yī diǎnr)

一点儿 (yī diǎnr) can be used in many places. 有一点儿 (yǒu yī diǎnr) is a degree indicator.

hen in Chinese

The mistranslated Chinese character - 很 (hěn)

Mistranslating (hěn) into “very” is only because sometimes that’s the best we can do.

12 common errors of Chinese

Explaining twelve common errors English speaking students often make when they speak Chinese.

Videos to Practice Story Telling


video-Mandarin Express Intro Level

Review videos for Mandarin Express Intro Level A & B

Short animated videos are made for students to practice making conversations or presenting information.

video-Mandarin Express Basic Level

Review videos for Mandarin Express Basic Level A & B

Engaging animated videos are provided for students to consolidate learning and practice telling stories. 

Video-Mandarin Express Pre-Intermediate Level

Review videos for Mandarin Express Pre-Intermediate Level A & B

Animated videos are for students to review information and to practice making presentations in Chinese.

video for learning Chinese

Extra interests related to learning Chinese

Animated videos that explain some interesting facts which students are likely to encounter when learning Chinese.

Class Activities to Expand Teaching Toolkit

Engage students' attention, give them opportunities to move around, and get some competitive spirit going on! Use these activities to bring your Chinese classes to life. And there are more practical and handy activities available in Teacher's Manuals.

Reading a long Chinese article

  • Read and comprehend long articles in Chinese

  • Practice delivering presentations in Chinese

  • Discuss about complex issues in Chinese

Topic Card - What is it in your mind?

  • Encourage authentic communications between students
  • Build mutual understanding among students
  • Gauge progress and discover areas for improvement

Find someone who ...

  • Encourage the whole class to stay active
  • Encourage communication and information sharing
  • Build trust and understanding among students and teachers

Listening contest

  • Increase students' awareness on pronunciation
  • Encourage students to speak and increase their confidence
  • Build class rapport among students

Articles by April for In-Depth Teaching & Learning


learn Chinese in Hong Kong

Seven things you must know when learning Chinese in Hong Kong

Cantonese or Mandarin? Traditional Chinese or simplified Chinese? Get your answers here.

reading Chinese

Reading Chinese, where to start?

There are excellent choices for students to begin reading Chinese. Children’s books may not be the best option.

Does “shi li” mean “strength” in Chinese?

When twenty Chinese words share the same pinyin, we’ll have a maddening vocabulary list.

Chinse font kai ti

Beginner’s Guide to Six Common Chinese Fonts

Start learning Chinese characters? Recognise some common Chinese fonts too!

Improve Chinese pronunciation

Five ways to improve your Chinese pronunciation

Five effective ways to improve Chinese pronunciation. Some will improve your pronunciation without you knowing it.

Cantonese and Mandarin

Cantonese and Mandarin: the similarities and differences

Cantonese has some unique characteristics which are different from Mandarin. But they also have a lot in common.

persistent in learning Chinese

The most important factor in the success of learning Chinese

It is a cliche to say being persistent is the secret of learning Chinese. But it is the secret.

The many dialects of Chinese

There are so many dialects in China, and Mandarin is one of the many dialect groups of Chinese.

traditional vs simplified character

The simplification process of traditional Chinese characters

Learn about the principles that were applied to traditional Chinese characters to simplify them.

The pros and cons of learning Mandarin in Hong Kong

There are disadvantages of learning Mandarin in Hong Kong, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

speak putonghua

Beijinghua is not Putonghua

Beijinghua is not Putonghua. I felt so and linguists said so. That’s what makes learning Putonghua interesting.

virtual learning tour to China

How to substitute for a learning tour to China

Instead of spending thousands of dollars, a virtual learning tour to China is cheap, and provides many benefits for students to learn Chinese.

Mandarin learning anxieties

Learning Mandarin can lead to anxieties. Overcoming these anxieties requires understanding them first. 

Top ten ways students can make a Chinese teacher mad

Cultural differences and different upbringing environments lead to tensions in classrooms. Here are some turn around strategies for teachers.

Why learn Mandarin?

Ten arguments for learning Mandarin are analysed and find out which one can drive students to the ultimate success.

Chinese vocabulary

Give me a word, any word

There are many ways for a foreign word to enter the Chinese language. Some of them are simply brilliant!

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Dragons are magnificent, but students don’t talk to them. Let’s think again what make great covers for Chinese language textbooks.

Strokes, components and radicals of Chinese characters

Strokes, components and radicals are all building units of Chinese characters, and each of them functions differently.

Train for exceptional Mandarin listening ability - higher level students

Many resources are there for listening training. Understand them better and use them well.

Controlled exercises - How lower level students develop listening ability

This article offers actionable advice for non-Chinese students’ to train their ears.

Chinese radicals - a fact sheet

Chinese radicals are interesting, versatile and flexible, and absolutely refuse all rules of thumbs.

A comprehensive guide for choosing the right level of IB Chinese (Diploma Program)

Understand what IBDP Chinese curriculum requires and tests, and get help with choosing the appropriate level of IB Chinese to study.

HSK test

7 things you should know about the new HSK test

A new version of HSK is in place. Find out what the new requirements are, and our take on it.

The gulf between pinyin and Mandarin Chinese pronunciation

Although pinyin is useful to learn Mandarin, it also has some inherent problems, which Chinese language learners must be aware of.

xiang xing zi

Pictures and Chinese characters

Chinese characters are visual, like paintings. But using pictures to teach Chinese characters has its limitations.

memorise Chinese characters

How to memorise Chinese characters?

For people who start learning Chinese late in their teens or adulthood, the difficulty of memorising Chinese characters is real.

Why learning Mandarin using (only) Pinyin will create more hurdles

For a meaningful grasp of Mandarin, students must look beyond pinyin. It is not a long term solution.

What? Stroke-order does not matter (that much anyway)?

Stroke order is not the most important thing in learning Chinese reading and writing. Find out what really is.

Learning Chinese input and output

Understand learning (Chinese) input and output

The process of learning Chinese is also an internalisation process. And learning how learning Chinese takes place helps learning.

Different ways of learning Chinese characters

There are a few ways to learn Chinese characters. A modified flash cards system is the best of them all.

pin yin, Pronunciation

A beginner’s guide to pinyin pronunciations

This beginner’s guide to pinyin helps students pronounce and understand pinyin in the right way.

reading Chinese

How helpful are bilingual books for students to learn Chinese?

English-Chinese bilingual books are good for children, but offer limited benefits for adult Chinese language learners.

father and mother in Chinese

How to say father and mother in Chinese

There are different ways to address father and mother in Chinese. And different names carry different connotations in Chinese culture.

books with both characters and pinyin

Can reading books written in both Chinese characters and pinyin help students develop Chinese reading skills?

Books printed in both Chinese characters and pinyin have little to offer in terms of developing Chinese reading skills.

The connections between radicals, pronunciations and meanings

There is a connection, but a weak one, between radicals, pronunciations and  meanings of picto-phonetic characters.

The problems of using flash cards to learn Chinese

Beautifully designed flash cards are promoted to students who are learning Chinese. Let’s take a look at their problems.

Give yourself a good Chinese name!

Chinese characters, the sounds and the tones all can make a Chinese name beautiful, meaningful, and unique.

speaking Chinese in China

How much Chinese is enough for beginner students to have a good trip to China?

One does not need to be fluent in Chinese to enjoy a trip in China. A bit knowledge goes a long way. 

improve Chinese reading skills

Trying to improve your Chinese reading skills? Focus on words and structures

A few things students can do to improve their Chinese reading skills. Learning more Chinese characters is the last of them.

learn Chinese vocabulary

Overwhelmed by Chinese vocabulary

Tons of new words in each lesson are difficult for both students and teachers. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with them.

grow Chinese vocabulary

Speaking Chinese is the best way to grow your vocabulary

Memorising tons of new words won’t help you speak fluent Chinese. But speaking Chinese helps grow your vocabulary.

Englinese

Are you speaking Englinese? When Chinese language is influenced by English language

When speaking Chinese as if speaking English, Englinese happens. Take a look at some common errors.

bad Chinese learning experience

Learning Chinese? Four signs for you to avoid bad experience

Bland, boring and uninspiring Chinese classes lead to bad learning experience. Know how to recognise them.

use movies to learn Chinese

How to use movies to learn Chinese

Movies are lots of fun and are great resources for students to learn Chinese. Here are some ways to use them in a class.

read Chinese newspaper

Learning 2000 Chinese characters is not enough for reading newspapers, and the number of characters is not the problem

If you have learned 2000 frequently used Chinese characters, you probably still can not read Chinese newspapers. Let’s find out why.

Latin and Chinese grammar

It is a mistake to learn Chinese using English grammatical concepts

The best way to learn Chinese grammar is to ignore it. Understand the origin of modern Chinese grammar and why it’s so confusing.

Is learning pinyin learning Chinese?

Pinyin itself is not Chinese. Learning pinyin is learning tool that helps students learn how to speak Chinese.

English in Chinese textbooks

Why English translations should not be included in Chinese textbooks

English appearing in Chinese textbooks is inevitable. But putting English translations next to the Chinese texts is not a good idea.

mi zi ge

Write good Chinese

When written well, Chinese characters became art, and poems pushed up the price of paper. Learn how to write good Chinese.

Chinese radicals

It is not necessary to spend too much time studying radicals

Radicals used to be very important in learning Chinese. Today it’s better to think studying them as a hobby.

Deconstruct Chinese text

Deconstructing Chinese texts is the key to learn how to read Chinese

Reading Chinese requires a skill of deconstructing Chinese texts into words. Different word boundaries create different meanings.

Copy Chinese texts

Your first step of writing good Chinese is to copy good writings of Chinese

Copying texts is a fundamental writing practice of learning Chinese. Copying the best makes us better.

Take tests, but not study for them

Get high marks in HSK is nice. But learning Chinese should be more than passing a test.

Cantonese and Mandarin in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, Cantonese and Mandarin are political issues and occupy different places in the society.

Chinese grammar

When learning Chinese Grammar, less can be more

Many Chinese textbooks require students to study hundreds of grammar points. Try to ignore them.

difference between spoken Chinese and written Chinese

Differences between spoken Chinese and written Chinese

Understand the difference between spoken Chinese and written Chinese, and improve Chinese reading skills.

radical fire

When radicals do and do not give clues to meanings of Chinese characters

Sometimes, only sometimes, we can use radicals to explain some Chinese characters. Know where the boundaries are.

How do Chinese people learn to write Chinese without pinyin, and why non-Chinese speaking students should not try it?

There are two advantages that a Chinese kid has but a non-Chinese speaking student doesn’t have.

Chinese grammar books and amnesia

Chinese grammar books, come with amnesia?

Have you ever worked through a grammar book and only to realise that you’ve forgot everything? It’s not your fault.

Chinese learning for kids

Chinese Learning for Kids

Children learn differently from adults. However, there are many children’s Chinese programs that look like adults’.

In which ways Chinese learning APPs are replacing teachers

Chinese learning APPs have been developed rapidly and nicely. Some cool features can definitely replace teachers.

How do students learn Chinese from A.I.?

Artificial Intelligence is such a hot technology that it is no surprise that it is used for learning Chinese.

The oldest Chinese dialect, Hokkien

Hokkien is the oldest Chinese language. It has been spread far and wide, and branched into many different varieties.

How many Chinese characters do you need to learn?

For beginner students, we set that number at 320 Chinese characters. 

The Many Chinese language learning books

There are many different kinds of books for people to learn Chinese. Some useful, some not.

Learning Chinese characters

Learning Chinese characters: etymology vs usage

It's nice to know about etymology, but the focus should be on good reading and writing skills first.

statistics of tones in Chinese

Tones, a fluid and dynamic concept

There are no “correct tones” in an absolute sense, because tones are a fluid and a dynamic concept. Learn what it means for teaching and learning Chinese.

self-study Chinese

Self-study Chinese, and study it well!

Self-study is a good way to learn Chinese. Understand some problems that hinder you from making progress.

Chinese audio lessons

How to make the most of Chinese audio lessons

“Repeat” and “talk back” are great when listening to audio lessons. But there are more to be considered.

Chinese names in space

Learn about those fantastic Chinese names in outer space, their origins and folklores.

Famous stories about tea in China

Tea is a wonderful drink enjoyed by Chinese people. Read some wonderful stories about tea in China, starting with its origin.

The mythical creators of Chinese civilisations

Read a few wonderful stories starting from the beginning of the universe to the beginning of Chinese as an ethnic group.

money

What if the investment made into Chinese classes does not pay off?

If learning Chinese is considered as an investment for high returns, the risk of losing is high.

From Yan Fu to translations of Chinese language textbooks

There are good translations and there are bad ones. For Chinese language textbooks, it seems that both will do a disservice.

Famous castrated males in China

Not all castrated males ended up as eunuchs. Read three highly respected, admired, and also castrated males in China.

students

Students’ needs and the vertical depth of learning Chinese

Learning Chinese at different levels is, in its essence, to learn the Chinese language with different textures.

Chinese teacher

How teachers manage themselves in Chinese classes

Chinese teachers have more jobs to do than teaching. They are also information controllers, time keepers and more.

Chinese classes

How students get the most out of their Chinese class time

Students are not passive in Chinese classes. They own their success.

MSL Master's approach to teaching Chinese

MSL Master’s approach to Chinese courses

Teaching Chinese is a serious job. The right approach matters and it is best defined by the final outcomes.

How adult students achieve great learning results

Adult students have their strengths and that’s why they’ll succeed in learning Chinese.

Learning Chinese is also to learn how to deal with mistakes

Mistakes are bound to happen. The trick is to know the best way to address these mistakes.

Pinyin, tones and intonations of Chinese

Instead of analysing the rules of pinyin or tones, there is a better way to sound native-like when speaking Chinese.

Chinese characters made up with the same components

A small number of Chinese characters are made up with the same components twice, three times, or even four times. It’s fun to take a look at them from different angles.

Learn new Chinese words vs enjoy reading Chinese materials

Have a pleasant reading time is essential. The key is to find good Chinese reading materials, or, to write some.

Why Chinese books using simple Chinese words are hard to find

Using Green Eggs and Ham, let’s take a look at how a simple English book turned into something not so simple in Chinese.

What if Shakespeare could write in Chinese?

Shakespeare was a grand master of English language for two reasons. Could he achieve the same stellar result if he could write in Chinese?

Chinese characters

Chinese characters that look like a sandwich

Some Chinese characters look like a sandwich, but none of them really mean “sandwich”. These characters have two identical sides enclosing a middle part.

When learning Chinese, it’s better to set soft goals

There are “hard goals” and “soft goals” for learning Chinese. Hard goals bring nothing when achieve them, while soft goals create rich inner wealth.

Four Islands of Conclusions in learning Chinese

Master says, “Don’t jump to conclusions”. However, when learning Chinese, there are a few conclusions that many are likely to jump to.

Do you need to use your hand to write Chinese characters?

Using pinyin to input Chinese characters is prevalent among students. Let’s encourage them to write Chinese by hand as often as they can.

Jobs that benefit from learning Chinese

Some jobs require candidates to study Chinese, while other jobs benefit from candidates who have studied Chinese.

Inherited orders in Chinese language

Chinese language confers a nice sense of order that makes sense, such as mailing address, family titles, and personal achievements.

The necessary Chinese teacher’s skill set

Eleven teaching skills that are essential for current and soon-to-be Chinese teachers, including non-native Chinese speaking teachers.

Mark Allen, 6x Ironman World Champion, and learning Chinese

6x Ironman World Champion Mark Allen can teach us a lot about learning Chinese. Let’s heed his advice.

Speak fluent Chinese, topic by topic

If speaking fluent Chinese is your goal, make sure you approach it topic by topic, task by task.

ancient Chinese characters

Decipher ancient drawings in Chinese oracle bone inscriptions

Let us try to decipher a couple of ancient drawings and connect them with current Chinese characters. The result is surprising!

chinese learning pyramid

Use Chinese Learning Pyramid to make learning more effective

Use this Chinese Learning Pyramid to inform yourself where to spend your time and energy effectively.

Learn to manage your time when teaching yourself Chinese

Time is the currency. When self-study Chinese, it is important to manage your time the right way.

Teaching yourself Chinese? Take the right approach

When setting up a plan for self-study Chinese, many students neglect three important factors.

printing layout

The ancient carved wood block printing in China

For nearly 1500 years, Chinese people used carved wood block printing to produce books.

luan xi bing

The hidden (and disappearing) food gems in Hong Kong

Get to know some traditional food gems that you can’t find anywhere else but Hong Kong.

mindsets of learning Chinese

Top 7 mindsets of successful Chinese language learners

There are certain mindsets that get Chinese language learners further and faster.

three body science fiction

A few extra things to know when reading the Three-Body Problem

There are some small details that, if you get them, you’ll appreciate the novel a little bit more.

Share some of your exciting ideas!


CONTACT

April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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