Free Online Resources for Teaching and Learning Chinese

This resource centre includes articles which explain some perplexing Chinese grammar, analyse some unique features of Chinese language, suggest the best way of learning Chinese, provide some video clips and ideas for teachers to conduct interactive class activities, and recommend informative readings about China written in English.

Some ideas can be applied directly into Chinese classes or practice routines. Some ideas can bring out a conceptual change in how Chinese should be learned or taught. Topics are varied and indexed. New articles are added from time to time.

A few easily confused grammatical points


Two in Chinese

二 èr and 两 liǎng

Don’t be confused about when to use “两 liǎng” and when to use “二 èr” any more.

de in Chinese

的 de - a structural particle in Chinese

When learning Chinese, it is important to understand the function of “的 de” is associative, not possessive.

le in Chinese

Attention! “了 le” does not indicate past tense

Chinese learners and teachers must pay attention that “了 le” does not indicates past tense. It is about change.

jiu in chinese

The often overlooked Chinese character - 就 jiù

Understand the origin and learn some of the meanings and usages of “就 jiù”, which is often overlooked or misunderstood.

yi dianr and you yi dianr

一点儿 yī diǎnr and 有一点儿 yǒu yī diǎnr

Understand the difference between “一点儿 yī diǎnr” and “有一点儿 yǒu yī diǎnr” in Chinese.

hen in Chinese

The mistranslated Chinese character - 很 hěn

Mistranslating “很 hěn” into “very” is only because we don’t have other options.

Video Resources


video-Mandarin Express Intro Level

Review exercises for Mandarin Express Intro Level lessons

Short animated videos are made for students to review their lessons in Mandarin Express Intro Level, and to practice speaking Mandarin.

video-Mandarin Express Basic Level

Review exercises for Mandarin Express Basic Level lessons

Short and engaging animated videos are provided for students to consolidate lessons in Mandarin Express Basic Level.

Video-Mandarin Express Pre-Intermediate Level

Review exercises for Mandarin Express Pre-Intermediate Level lessons

Engaging animated videos are for students to practice and review what they have learned in their Chinese class, Mandarin Express Pre-Intermediate Level.

video for learning Chinese

Extra interests related to learning Chinese

These short animated videos explain some interesting facts which students are likely to encounter when learning Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese courses at MSL Master

Commercial alert! Introductions of our Chinese courses

Watching these short videos, and get a quick understanding of what our Chinese courses offer.

Articles Written by April Zhang for in-depth Chinese 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? What it takes to succeed in learning Chinese? Get your answers here. 

reading Chinese

Reading Chinese, where to start?

Choices of Chinese reading materials are limited. That’s why many students opt for reading children’s books. But that’s not the best solution.

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

Many Chinese words share the exact same pinyin and that creates so much confusion that the only solution is to learn Chinese characters.

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 your Chinese pronunciation. More importantly, improving your Chinese 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

If there is one thing to guarantee the success of learning Chinese, what would that be?

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

Effort was made in two fronts to simplify Chinese characters, to reduce the number of strokes, and to reduce the number of characters.

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

There could be hundreds versions of Putonghua out there with slight differences from one another. One of them is Putonghua with a Beijing accent.

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

Understand more on how cultural differences and different upbringing environments lead to tensions between the teacher and students.

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

Many Chinese words are originally from other languages and Chinese people simply made them their own.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Dragons are magnificent, but it is people whom students will talk to. Let's re-think about how to represent Chinese culture in textbooks. 

Strokes, components and radicals of Chinese characters

Both strokes and components are building units, while the latter gives us a deeper insight of the intrinsic beauty of characters.

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

Find out what the biggest misconception is and gain some insightful ideas about Chinese radicals.

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.

7 things you should know about the HSK test

What is HSK? Why do people take HSK? Who benefits the most? Find out the answers to these questions and more. 

The gulf between pinyin and Mandarin Chinese pronunciation

Learning pinyin has great advantages. But it is not without its problems. Find out the real issues about pinyin and how to overcome them.

xiang xing zi

Pictures and Chinese characters

Chinese characters are visual, like paintings. They can make an immediate impact upon people, even if they can not read Chinese.

memorise Chinese characters

How to memorise Chinese characters?

For non-Chinese speakers, who start learning Chinese in their teens or adulthood, the difficulty inherent in the process of memorising Chinese characters is very real. It is something they have to overcome.

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

For students who want to have a meaningful grasp of Mandarin, they must look beyond pinyin, as pinyin will confuse the hell out of them!

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.

Understand learning (Chinese) input and output

In the context of speaking and listening, we discuss how the input and output take place in learning Chinese.

Different ways of learning Chinese characters

There are several ways to start learning Chinese characters. A list of most frequently used characters is one of them.

pin yin

A beginner’s guide to pinyin pronunciations

This beginner’s guide to pinyin teaches you how to use English as cues, most of the time, to grasp Mandarin sounds.

reading Chinese

How helpful are bilingual books for students to learn Chinese?

English-Chinese bilingual books are used by many to learn Chinese. To what extent these books are helpful for adult learners of Chinese?

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 traditionally, father and mother 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 their usages. Developing Chinese reading skills could be one of them if we know how.

The connections between a Chinese character’s components, its pronunciation, and its meanings

The connections between a Chinese character’s component, its pronunciation and its meanings are not foolproof.

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?

Now you have learned some Chinese, it is enough for you to take your first trip to China? Read our observations.

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

When facing a long list of new vocabulary in your Chinese textbooks, we need to be innovative, while the best practice is “out of sight and out of mind”.

grow Chinese vocabulary

Speaking Chinese is the best way to grow your Chinese vocabulary

Memorising tons of new words won’t help you speak better Chinese. But speaking Chinese definitely helps you increase 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 and their sources.

bad Chinese learning experience

Learning Chinese? Four signs for you to avoid bad experience

Four signs for you to tell if you are having bland, boring and uninspiring Chinese classes, which lead to bad learning experience. 

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. But people speak too fast in movies. What can we do?

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

What is the best way to learn Chinese grammar? Most people did not know that modern Chinese grammar has a Latin origin, which has created many thorny issues.

Is learning pinyin learning Chinese?

Many students spend so much time in pinyin, thinking they are learning Chinese. Actually, what they are learning is a tool.

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

People love well written Chinese. It could be calligraphy where Chinese characters become an expressive form of art, or beautiful Chinese texts which transcend the world.

Chinese radicals

It is not necessary to spend too much time studying radicals

Radicals have played an important role in learning Chinese. However, spending too much time on radicals no longer makes any sense.

Deconstruct Chinese text

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

The Chinese writing system does not provide any spaces between words, that means, we have to deconstruct Chinese texts into smaller groups by ourselves.

Copy Chinese texts

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

Copying texts is a real and fundamental writing practice of learning Chinese. It’s an effective way to develop students’ writing skills.

Take tests, but not study for them

Passing HSK4 or IB Chinese definitely means a lot. But learning Chinese should be more than passing a test.

Cantonese and Mandarin in Hong Kong

In a diversified language terrain, let’s take a look at how Cantonese and Mandarin find its place in Hong Kong.

Chinese grammar

When learning Chinese Grammar, less can be more

Try a better and easier way to learn Chinese grammar. Ignore most of the grammar points and grammar exercises.

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.

Class Activities to Expand Chinese 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

  • Involve students in their Chinese learning process

  • Practice analytical and critical thinking skills

  • Deliver presentations 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

Other Great Resources Recommended by April


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. 

Share some of your exciting ideas!


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