Our online tutors learning Chinese online!
While we offer free online Zoom classes for our online and incoming homestay tutors, we’ve also curated this great list of free self-paced online Chinese courses for anyone to enjoy!
Can I learn Chinese myself for free?!
Chinese has a reputation for being a difficult language to learn, and for good reason! Many Chinese language students struggle with the differences in pronunciation, with some sounds unfamiliar to those used to European languages and the four tones being a particular challenge. Additionally, written Chinese uses characters rather than letters, with each character representing a whole syllable and associated meaning. What’s more, some characters have multiple pronunciations!
However, there are also some advantages to learning Chinese – the relatively simple grammar (no verb conjugations – so none of those horrible irregular verbs!) makes it easy to form sentences, and the huge number of Chinese speakers around the world means there is no shortage of speaking partners! Additionally, the Chinese government and Confucius institutes have invested significantly in promoting Chinese language learning internationally, resulting in some excellent online courses and resources for learning Chinese.
In order to give yourself the best start in learning Chinese, we would strongly recommend beginning with a more structured online course rather than simple vocabulary learning apps like Duolingo. This will provide you with a stronger basis in the Chinese writing and pronunciation systems, ensuring you have a sturdier foundation for future studies.
One of the most popular online course platforms, Coursera offers an excellent range of free online Chinese courses, including those for complete beginners up to HSK exam preparation! Courses hosted on Coursera are written by universities from around the world, while using their advanced online learning platform. You can enjoy some excellent explanatory videos and test your understanding with built in quizzes. Although most of the courses themselves are free, for a small fee, you can work towards a professional certificate for your resume too!
Another very popular online course platform, EdX was set up by leading American universities but has quickly spread around the world through their partnerships with universities and private education companies. Compared to Coursera, EdX has a reputation for being a little more academically rigorous, for example some of their Chinese course options focus more on business Chinese, writing and grammar. They also have a range of interesting courses on Chinese history and politics.
Created by the Open University, FutureLearn is an online course platform now offering a huge range of courses from partners worldwide. Compared to Coursera and EdX, their courses tend to be a little shorter and more focused on video content. Although their range of Chinese courses is currently limited to beginners level content, the ease of use of the FutureLearn platform makes this a great choice to start learning Chinese! Example courses include:
- Fall in love with Mandarin by National Chiao Tung University
- Learn Chinese: Pronunciation and Tone by Shanghai International Studies University
Are you studying an online Chinese course? Do feel free to share your experiences, recommendations and top tips in our Facebook group!