The following resources are what we at Speedy Vocab highly recommend as supplements to our HSK vocabulary learning system.
Where to start
Speedy Vocab – Our first recommendation is to sign up to Speedy Vocab’s course which will allow you to master the first 3 levels of HSK vocabulary (just over 600 Chinese words) in less than 3 months. This will give you a solid foundation in Chinese and kick start your ability to read, listen and speak.
Check out our “Beginners guide to Chinese” blog section for info if you’re a complete beginner.
Pleco – An absolutely essential tool for all Chinese learners is the Pleco mobile app. Pleco is a dictionary which allows you to type words using pinyin, or by drawing the characters into your phone. Contains explanations of each word, example sentences to study how they are used and audio to hear pronunciation.
Google Translate – another very handy tool if you want a quick translation, in particular for whole sentences. Can contain mistakes so use with care.
Chinese Grammar Wiki – free online resources with succinct explanations of Chinese grammar structures, categorised by HSK level.
Chinese learning info
Hacking Chinese – The best website I’ve come across for tips on learning the Chinese language. Very easy to spend hours browsing articles on listening, speaking, reading, writing and vocabulary, as well as articles for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners.
DigMandarin is a learning resource platform which contains comprehensive articles on Mandarin Chinese learning skills along with case studies, reviews of the latest popular Chinese textbooks or tools, and advice direct from the professional Chinese language experts.
Language learning articles by Speedy Vocab. We aim to add more of these in the future, so stay tuned!
Chinese pod – for a small monthly subscription, you can gain access to several thousand Chinese podcasts. The most common format is a spoken dialogue, followed by explanations and breakdowns of key words and phrases, mixed in with friendly banter and good humour. Different levels available depending on your skill level.
Youtube – great place to browse Chinese videos of all levels. One tv series I found particularly useful when I was learning is a Taiwanese based children’s cartoon called The Adventures of Qiaohu.
Additionally, there are hundreds of Chinese movies on YouTube, some with English subtitles and almost all with Chinese subtitles.
The Chairman’s Bao – small monthly subscription gives you access to their database of news articles, with vocabulary varying in difficulty according to HSK levels. All articles come with audio, an explanation of difficult vocabulary and grammar tips.
Mandarin Companion, Chinese Breeze and Graded Chinese Reader series – these type of books which contain a limited amount of vocabulary are an excellent way to continue your Chinese learning journey after Speedy Vocab. See our article on graded readers to find out more.
Skritter – while Speedy Vocab will teach you how to recognize a large number of words, if you want a fun app to help you practise writing, Skritter is a great place to start.
The Chairman’s Bao also has the functionality to practise character writing.
Italki – is a great place to find online tutors. Online tutors post their hourly rate and you pay through the website. If you’re after something more casual (and free) you can find language buddies to help practise your Chinese, in exchange for you teaching them English (or any other language).
Local clubs and activities – most cities will have Chinese clubs or other activities you can take part in and make Chinese friends. Chinese people are generally very friendly and will help correct you when you make mistakes.
HSK Standard textbook – another great resource to help you prepare for the exam, with many practice questions and example dialogues.
WeChat – a messaging and social media app used by almost all Chinese speakers. If you’re learning Chinese, WeChat is a must to communicate with people in China.
Weibo – can be useful if you have lots of Chinese friends that use it, however I’ve found that the majority of people just use WeChat.