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Free Chinese Lessons and Courses

Free Chinese Lessons and Courses
We have gathered together here a number of free Chinese language lessons and language courses for those learning Chinese, along with some other Chinese language resources, such as Chinese online courses and exercises, podcasts, video lessons, alphabets, dictionaries, lexicons, verb conjugations, language communities, newspapers, articles, and books. Most of these sites will be in English, although a number are multilingual in nature.

  Video Lessons

Video Clips of Survival Chinese
Video clips portraying common situations one is likely to encounter travelling, with text of the dialogue, and question and answer drills about the scenario.
Learn Chinese on YouTube
You will be taught Chinese language pronunciation, useful Chinese phrases and a thorough introduction to the Chinese writing system.

  Courses and Exercises

Audio Tutorial of Survival Chinese
Words and phrases for Teachers, Parenting, Dining, Greeting, Shopping, Time, Traveling, What and How, with MP3 audio files, and pinyin numerical text.
Bab.la Language Portal
"The bab.la language portal offers you dictionary translations, language quizzes and games, vocabulary lessons for learning and much more. bab.la is interactive: You can enter your own translation, create your own language test or your own vocabulary flashcard set. babla - Loving Languages!". Quizzes, games, vocabulary learning and dictionary aids for English, Chinese, French, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
BBC Real Chinese
A lively introduction to Mandarin Chinese in 10 short parts. Click on the topics in order to see the slideshow and hear the language. You'll also find useful phrases with tips on pronunciation and grammar, cultural notes and a short challenge to check what you've learnt. At the end of each slideshow there's a chance to watch a short (approx. 1 min) videoclip taken from the TV series.
Chinese Character Test
The Chinese Character Test provides, for the first time, a fast and easy way to estimate the actual number of Chinese characters that you know. The test is a free, web-based applet that you can use as often as you like. All that is required is a high-speed internet connection and a web browser equipped with a recent version of the Java Plug-in.
Chinese-course.com
Practice and test your Chinese vocabulary with an easy Audio Flashcard System and various exercises, such as multiple choice tests, writing exercises and listening exercises...make your own word lists, get mouseover explanations, try the loop flashcard feature, a text analyzer and new text every week
Chinese Language Games From Quia.Com
A number of Chinese language games; some require the Java plugin.
Chinese Learn Online
Learn Mandarin Chinese with our audio podcasts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Subscribe to the lessons from iTunes, Yahoo or your favorite source, or listen to them directly from our main page.
Chinese Multimedia
This supplementary Chinese course of 22 lessons in simplified characters at elementary-intermediate level is suitable for students who have already learned Chinese for at least 3 months. The course has been designed to supplement classroom teaching of Chinese, but can stand alone for use by students studying independently. It breaks new ground with its comprehensive use of multimedia materials, including video and audio files, interactive character writing exercises, interactive grammar drills, multiple choice vocabulary tests, and indexes for grammar and vocabulary. A standard multimedia plug-in is required to allow you to make full use of the multimedia elements.
ChinesePod
Free podcasts from ChinesePod, which works by taking the best of the traditional classroom, and recreating it around the needs and lifestyle of the student, with all the improvements that technology allows.
Chinese Tools - Learn Chinese
With Chinese in 10 Minutes a Day, for those who are learning to speak Chinese and want to gain fluency in everyday speaking and grammar use; and Reading and Writing Chinese, a new, completely revised edition that offers students a more convenient, efficient, and up-to-date introduction to the writing system.
CSLPod
CSLPod is run by a team in Beijing, China, and is designed to help people improve their Chinese skills. CLSPod offers an authentic environment for learning Chinese for students at various levels of listening comprehension with five audio clips each week.
Conversational Mandarin Chinese Online
Online version of the text by Tianwei Xie, with 15 lessons in conversational Mandarin, with audio files in WAV format; also includes a directory of MP3 files for the course that are downloable.
GR Junction
Gwoyeu Romatzyh (or GR for short), is a system of romanization for Mandarin Chinese. GR Junction offers information and resources for people who want to use GR as a tool for learning Mandarin Chinese.
Introduction to Mandarin Chinese
Our "Introduction to Mandarin Chinese" tutorial aims to give you a broad foundational grasp of the principles behind Mandarin Chinese, without going into the granular details you might find in introductory linguistics courses, or that might show up on pop quizzes In these pages, we'll introduce the major features of Mandarin Chinese pronunciation, characters and grammar, providing you with a solid basic understanding of how the Chinese language is put together. You should then be able to progress much faster in your language learning journey.
LearnchinesePod
Beginning Chinese podcasts, with MP3 audio and PDF texts.
Learning Chinese
The author has studied Mandarin, or standard Chinese for many years now. Some of the resources that he has used are listed here with comments.
Learning Chinese: Frequently Asked Questions
A FAQ on matters relevant and important to students of Chinese.
Learning Chinese Online
Extensive link resource for many topics in learning Chinese, created and maintained by Dr. Tianwei Xie, Dept. of Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University at Long Beach.
Online Chinese Tools
These pages hope to provide tools to assist people in learning and using the beautiful Chinese language. Includes character conversion tools, flashcards, calendar conversion, cultural information, dictionaries, etc.
Online College of Chinese Language
Courses for beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, plus a large number of other learning and study materials for the student of Chinese. Hosted by the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL) of the People's Republic of China and is cooperated with East China Normal University (ECNU).
Peace Corps Mandarin Chinese Course
Subscribe and listen to language lessons from around the world. Click on a language lesson in order to listen to the lesson in your default media player. Or you can subscribe to the lessons as podcasts. Includes a downloadable PDF text and audio files in MP3 format.
Picture Dictionaries in Mandarin
Picture dictionaries sorted by categories with audio pronunciations by LanguageGuide.org, a collaborative project that aims to make available extensive free resources for learning languages.
Practical Chinese Reader Vocabulary: Activity Builder
Meant to accompany the Practical Chinese Reader, Book 1, these are grab and drop games where one drags a floating word onto the correct character. Requires the Flash plugin.
Practical Chinese Reader Vocabulary: Activity Builder Table
Meant to accompany the Practical Chinese Reader, Book 1, these require the student to fill in a table with the correct character, pinyin, and English words.
Putonghua for Beginners
Seven lessons in Chinese conversation, with text and audio files.
Teaching and Learning Chinese
Materials for learning Chinese from Kenyon College's Chinese department.
ZapChinese
Lessons and exercises for beginners in Chinese.
Video Clips of Survival Chinese
Video clips portraying common situations one is likely to encounter travelling, with text of the dialogue, and question and answer drills about the scenario.

  Pinyin

Chinese Phonetics
To hear the pronunication of the syllable in each cell, just click it. For purpose of practicing, each syllable is pronounced with four tones for you to listen to, although some syllables with certain tones are meaningless in Chinese.
Chinese -> PinYin Translator
Enter your Chinese Text Below. You can cut and paste into this box, or type in the Chinese text directly. When finished, press the Convert to Pinyin button.
Chinese Pronunciation Guide
Pinyin with audio pronunciations of the phonetic combinations.
Pinyin Info
This website is aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the Chinese languages and how romanization can be used to write languages traditionally associated with Chinese characters (such as Japanese, Korean, and especially Mandarin Chinese).
Pinyin Practice
A site which has a number of tutorials for learning and practicing pinyin; requires the Flash plugin.
Pinyin, The Official Chinese System of Romanizing Chinese
Short page with pinyin character combinations and their phonetic pronunciations in English equivalent morphemes.
Wikibooks: Chinese/Pinyin Pronunciation
A short text on Pinyin from Wikibooks, the online user-contributed textbook collection.
Wikipedia: Pinyin
An article on Pinyin, the roman character phonetic transcription system for Chinese, by Wikipedia, the online user-extensible encyclopedia.

  Characters and Calligraphy

Calligraphy of the Masters
Contains numerous graphic scans of past masters of Chinese calligraphy, with an introduction to the aesthetics of calligraphy, calligraphy of poems, steles, bone scripts, plus essays and links to other sites on Chinese calligraphy.
Chinese Calligraphy
Ancient Chinese calligraphy, with history, analysis of Chinese characters, calligraphy set, styles and changes, how to hold brush, essential writing technique, basic eight brush strokes, seven sequential steps in writing strokes, structure of Chinese characters, process of practicing, learn from rubbings, and much more.
Chinese Character Flashcards
A Java applet to assist in the learning of Chinese characters. Currently the 1,000 most frequently used characters are in the database but he hopes to add more as time goes on. There is a new version of the flashcards with many improvements. It requires users to download the Java 2 Plug-In and a Chinese Unicode font. Information on how to do this is included in the page.
Chinese Character Learning System
Categorization of characters into The Universe, Divination, Five Stages of Change, Humanity, Physical Body, Four Necessities, Animals, Vegetation, with philosophical exposition of their meaning and evolution.
Chinese Character Test
The Chinese Character Test provides a fast and easy way to estimate the actual number of Chinese characters that you know. The test is a free web-based Java applet that you can use as often as you like. When you take the test, you'll first be asked your approximate skill level, how many characters you want to test, and whether you prefer simplified or traditional characters. You'll then be presented with a series of characters, selected at random from a group appropriate to your skill level, and asked to select the correct pinyin and English definition for each one from two multiple-choice lists.
Chinese Character Writing Sheets
Practice writing sheets for Practical Chinese Readers Book I and II downloadable in PDF format.
Chinese Dictionary Radical Schemes
After the simplification of characters or hanzi on mainland China during the twentieth century, new character ordering schemes were invented. Before then, the most often used method of ordering was the 214 radicals as found in the famous KangXi (K'ang Hsi) Dictionary completed in 1716. We shall use the Kangxi radicals system to represent the traditional style characters and three other major schemes for the post war simplified character ordering schemes which contain 227, 187 and 155 radicals respectively. The radicals are known as Bushou in Chinese, which means "section headings".
Chinese Web-based Character Learning Program
This webpage is designed to help elementary and intermediate learners of Chinese as a foreign language to learn characters more effectively by practicing with various on-line exercises. Currently only the intermediate level is available.
Chinese Writing
The following tutorial is meant to provide beginners all they need to write Chinese characters and find them in a dictionary, but can also amuse advanced students and the curious. Though this is not a language tutorial, learning the fundamental strokes and their correct order helps memorize characters and is an indispensable basis to learn written Chinese. Each lesson provides many examples of single characters and compounds. The content is also downloadable as a zipfile for offline use.
CLEO's Four Treasures
An online calligraphy program that allows the user to select different brushes at different sizes, and practice calligraphy strokes on the digital canvas; requires the Java plugin. A downloadable version is available here.
Fanjian Chinese Character Tutor
An online program from the University of California, Berkeley for learning simplified and traditional characters.
Hanzi
A scholarly exposition of the Chinese writing system and its history and evolution.
The Hanzi Quiz Program
A JavaScript program to help learn hanzi (Chinese Characters), with a list of simplified (mainland China) hanzi, traditional (Taiwan) hanzi, pinyin (pronunciation), and English meanings, comprising sort of a "deck of flashcards" (in the file hanzicards.js). The program randomly generates multiple-choice questions, by showing one hanzi and letting you guess the correct pinyin out of 5 randomly selected from the deck. Or you can see the English and guess the hanzi. Any combination of categories is possible.
Learning Chinese Flashcards
Downloadable flashcard program for Windows systems, another version is also available for the Palm Pilot.
Learn to Write Characters
Click on a character to show its stroke order of characters in a corner of the screen; uses animated GIFs. There is also an option of downloading the pages in a zipfile and viewing them offline.
Liwin's CyberChinese Calligraphy
Provides stroke order animations and pronunciation for characters in Practical Chinese Reader I. Uses QuickTime audio and video files.
The Most Common Chinese Characters in Order of Frequency
3000 of the most used characters are listed, presented in falling statistical order with the most commonly used characters first. Alternative forms of the characters are specified within parentheses – in which case "F" marks full (or traditional) forms, "S" marks simplified (or modern) forms and "A" marks alternative forms (mostly special numerals). Pronunciations are specified according to Pinyin and written within brackets "[...]". After each given pronunciation, a number of possible translations are listed. If a character corresponds closely to a somewhat longer word (usually a word that contains the character in question), the longer word is given in the list of translations marked with parentheses and a "=". After the translation of each character, example words containing the character are often listed.
Names of the Chinese Radical Components
The names of Chinese radicals.
Online Chinese Talking Flashcards
The YellowBridge Chinese Flashcards are designed to help students memorize as many Chinese characters as possible. They work just like cardboard flashcards where a front side provides the prompt while a back side provides the correct answer. However, they also provide many advantages that are not possible in cardboard flashcards, such as instant dictionary reference, interactive pronunciation, and session statistics.
Practice for Order of Chinese characters
Shows stroke order and gives pronunciation.
A Study of Chinese Writing Systems
Scholarly paper on the nature and evolution of Chinese script.
USC Chinese Program: Characters
Chinese character lessons for traditional and simplified Chinese, showing stroke order, and giving pronunciations of the characters; fairly comprehensive. Meant to accompany the Chinese program from the University of Southern California.
USC Chinese Program: Readings
Progressive and general readings in Chinese, with humor stories, origins of idioms, ancient Chinese myths, poems, and links to other material. Meant to accompany the Chinese program from the University of Southern California.
Zhongwen.com - Chinese Characters and Culture
Zhongwen.com contains the complete text of Amazon's best reviewed Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary using the new (zipu) character tree system. The site also contains a detailed FAQ on Chinese characters, readings from classical Chinese texts online, a tutorial on writing, vocabulary, a Chinese chatroom, and links to other Chinese language resources.

  Grammar

Basic Chinese Grammar
A slide show that reviews the basics of Spoken Standard Chinese Grammar in web graphics, similar to PowerPoint displays, but will work on all systems.
Chinese Grammar - UniLang Wiki
The following grammar topics are available for Mandarin Chinese, since the grammar of this language can be considerably different from many other languages, topics can be discussed in a somewhat untraditional way for western languages. Moreover, we will focus on teaching grammar by example.
Grammar Index
Short description of Chinese grammar from Chinese Multimedia.
Introduction to Elementary Chinese Grammar
A Chinese grammar at an elementary level, part of Introduction to the Chinese Language and its Processing, an online text describing the Chinese language.
Practical Chinese Reader Self-Test
Tests on the content of the Practical Chinese Reader, with an emphasis on grammar.
Wikipedia: Chinese Grammar
This article describes the grammar of Standard Mandarin. For the grammars of other forms of Chinese, see their respective articles via links on Chinese language and Spoken Chinese. From Wikipedia, the user extensible online encyclopedia.

  Language Communities

Chinese Chat
Chinese chatroom in pinyin, with an English and Chinese interface.
Chinese Mandarin Penpals
Find a partner at the online community and practice your second language (any language) with a native speaker who is learning your language. We host your online practice with lesson plans, text chat rooms and more.
Polyglot
Polyglot is a non-profit community dedicated to language exchange. Polyglot allows you to find the right person ready to exchange languages with you. You will search for penpals according to age, gender, location, hobbies, etc. Polyglot is fully customizable. You will choose your own icons, styles or post your own Polyglot translations, so that more people speaking your language can become a member.
Speak Any Language Online Community
Speak-Any-Language.com is a web-based, global community dedicated to making the world a smaller place through understanding of languages and cultures. Our Forums area gives each of our users the opportunity to communicate with each other. Our Chat area gives everyone the opportunity practice speaking in the languages of their choice. Best of all, the services on these pages are free.
UniLang Community
The main purpose of the UniLang Community is to provide an online site where people interested in languages can unite, openly discuss, and find resources related to language(s), linguistics and translations. We are an open non-profit organization, meaning that everything on our site is publicly accessible at no cost, and membership is also free and open for everybody. All data, unless otherwise stated, is licensed under an open licence, the UniLang Public License, as opposed to a restrictive copyright.

  Other Chinese Resources

  Media

Chinese Internet Radio and Online News Radio
Large directory of internet radio programs with conversation and music in a number of different audio formats.
Chinese Newspapers Online
Directory of online Chinese newspapers.
MIT List of Chinese Newspapers
Listing of newspapers and magazines online in Chinese.
NewsinChinese.com
The site aims to provide assisted reading of authentic Chinese news articles for students of the Chinese language. NewsinChinese.com is powered by a combination of the Adso dictionary and annotation software, and Chinese news agency Xinhua’s RSS Feeds. The process is entirely automated, and so the site is able to update frequently.

  Readings

Archive of Chinese Teaching Materials
A respository of materials suitable for the advanced student or for the teacher, focusing on Chinese basics, drama, essays, online resources, novels, prose, and miscellaneous texts.
Baiyun Library
A collection of various readings including modern and classical literature; page is entirely in Chinese.v
Chinese Reading World
Readings at beginning and intermediate levels, shown in HTML and GB format (which requires a special viewer), accompanied by audio files and other features.
A Chinese Text Sampler
An annotated collection of digitized Chinese texts for students of Chinese language and culture, with texts browsable online or downloadable for offline use.
Classical Chinese Literature
This site contains Chinese classics with each character hyperlinked to its definition and etymology. No Chinese software is necessary - characters are displayed as images. Links to English translations are included for most works.
Humor Stories
Humorous stories in Chinese from the University of Southern California,
The Mid-Autumn Festival
A set of readings at an intermediate level with online exercises about a Chinese cultural theme.
Progressive Reading
The reading materials of the same topics are written for the learners at various levels. The vocabulary and grammar used for writing match the learners' proficiency levels.
Stories of Chinese Idioms and Proverbs
Stories of Chinese idioms and proverbs, from the University of Southern California.

  Resources

Chinese Dictionaries Online
Comprehensive listing of Chinese dictionaries, technical reference, grammars, and other language aids.
A Chinese-English Database
A Chinese-English database of words entries with characters, pinyin, English meaning, and much more information; freely downloadable. Versions are available for databases or for plain text.
Chinese Language Page
Extensive link listing which has many kinds of language learning resources for all matters Chinese.
Chinese-Tools.com
Has many useful online tools for learning Chinese, translation, dictionaries, conversions tools, etc.
Chinese Tools and Sources
This page contains links to web sites and pages are related to Chinese learning & teaching. The information is divided into the following categories: Chinese computer software, media, language learning over the internet, universities, and job opportunities.
A Review of Chinese Word Lists Accessible on the Internet
A listing and short description and appraisal of a number of online Chinese lexicons freely available on the internet. Also includes a list of more technical reports by the author on matters in Chinese language.
Wikipedia, Chinese Edition
The online user-extensible encyclopedia, in the Chinese language.
Wikipedia: Chinese Language
Encyclopedia entry on the Chinese language from Wikipedia, the user-extensible online encylopedia.