Sunday, 25 January 2015

As the Sleeper Awakes

Been a bit lax on updating, going to get this moving a bit more with a small dump of beginner's resources for learning Chinese.

Most of the stuff here is pretty basic, though they're at least half-decent and mostly free. I give a short assessment of each site, and have tried to rank them in order of usefulness.

This website, particularly the grammar section, is a very good free resource to consider before moving on to the others. It is relatively easy to find Chinese content - whether that is new words, new idioms, audio or video - but finding good explanations of grammar is somewhat more difficult, and will help you actually understand how these words and phrases fit together.

Melnyks has options to pay and make things a bit easier on yourself, but ultimately these lessons are free. There are audio lessons in kind of a podcast format, and supplementary written materials to go along with it. In terms of site design, it is probably the best of the bunch.

Primarily audio and video lessons, but quite extensive and gives more immersion in Chinese language. The site itself could use some work, it really likes opening new tabs and doesn't always have a very intuitive layout. It appears to be having issues with many of the audio files at the moment, likely due to domain issues with the hosting website. Given that this part of the website looks like it hasn't been updated since 2012, it is likely that they won't be returning and these resources will remain inaccessible.

That said, all of the video lessons are still available. The series 'Growing up with Chinese' has the production value one might expect, but is still a pretty useful and entertaining way to learn conversational Chinese.

An important note about this site is that it is best to switch the lessons to Pinyin, using the link near the top of the page. By default they use what they call EZ Pinyin, which is a dumbed down version that will only confuse you once you learn real Pinyin - which is something designed for foreigners to learn Chinese in the first place.

The overall aesthetic is pretty basic, but it's certainly not a terrible resource. They have some media links, and a great section on idioms/proverbs.

Lastly, here is a pretty amusing blunder. - looks nicer than most, though clicking Chinese Programs gets you sent to a dead link!


  1. When China invades the West, we shall need this information to collaborate with them.

    But now seriously, I have a question about the last resource. Do we need to be part of a university to access it? It seems that I cannot access anything meaningful to start learning mandarin.

    1. It looks like it's just a site for California State University's Chinese Studies programs, you're right that it doesn't actually have anything on it to learn Chinese. It seems they've even fixed the link that was broken, so I should probably just take it out entirely.