5 free resources for studying Mandarin outside of the classroom

There are now more resources than ever before to support the study of Mandarin outside the classroom – from smartphone apps to online games.  It can almost feel like a minefield just knowing where to begin, so this post takes a quick look at 5 different resources that have been recommended by teachers delivering the Department for Education’s Mandarin Excellence Programme.

  1. Pleco

plecoPleco is a free smartphone Chinese dictionary app, with functionality that allows the user to draw and scan characters, as well as play audio. There are a number of (paid for) add-ons, such as flashcards and plug-ins which teach stroke order . The app is suitable for all levels – and best of all it is usable offline, making it great to use whilst on the go.

iPhone AppStore | Android Google Play

  1. Quizlet

QuizletQuizlet is a website and smartphone based app that can help students learn characters and vocabulary. Teachers or students can put characters into sets – great for allowing students to revisit and revise the vocabulary learnt from the latest chapter of their textbook. If you don’t have time to make your own vocabulary sets you’ll be surprised by what is already available by using the search function.

Once a set is created students can learn the vocabulary, test themselves on it, and even play games based on the selected words.

Quizlet Online | iPhone AppStore | Android Google Play

  1. HelloChinese

HelloChinese.pngHelloChinese is a game based app based around a bite-sized curriculum. The application has a speech recognition feature, and also allows students to practise writing characters. The app covers reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary and grammar.

iPhone AppStore | Android Google Play

  1. Memrise

MemriseMemrise recently won ‘Best App’ in the Google Play Awards 2017 – so now marks the perfect time to see what all the fuss is about. The software is available both online and as a smartphone app, and it’s another great way for students to learn characters and new vocabulary. Memrise is able to pronounce each character, so it’s a useful tool to aid oral and visual recognition of characters.

A number of resources have already been developed to support existing textbooks – so do make the most of the site’s search function.

Memrise Online |iPhone AppStore | Android Google Play

  1. Mandarin Excellence Programme student projects

MEP student projects.jpgA series of downloadable student projects have been developed as part of the Mandarin Excellence Programme. Unlike a lot of the resources listed above, the projects can be printed off and completed by students on the go – meaning a computer or smartphone isn’t required.

“The projects are a great way for students to learn new vocabulary, get inspired and learn more about China”, says Dr Pan Lin, who authored some of the newly released projects.

Teacher notes and answer sheets accompany each project – allowing teachers to see at a glance the vocabulary covered.

Download the Mandarin Excellence Programme student projects here

Students on the Mandarin Excellence Programme carry out around 4 hours of self-study per week – and the above resources are just some of those available that can be used to support learning. The Mandarin Excellence Programme is being delivered by the UCL Institute of Education on behalf of the Department for Education and in partnership with the British Council, and aims to see 5000 students on their way to fluency.

Funding is available to support delivery in state secondary schools across England, and schools can now apply to join in the 2018 academic year.