Top 20 Free Online Chinese Classes and Courses [2019 UPDATED]

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Whether you are learning Chinese because of its ancient and exotic culture or simply intrigued by the mystic Chinese characters, you know you are in for a wild ride! Learning Chinese is by no means a simple task due to its completely different writing system and the unique pronunciations. Well, worry not, we have here today 20 of the best free online Chinese classes, courses, lessons, training program and learning resources to help you master this amazing language.
Chinese Classes

Free Online Chinese Classes (Complete Courses)

If you are trying to get serious about taking proper Chinese courses but is not ready to invest the time and money just yet, try out some of these amazing websites! You can find massive open online courses (MOOC) to help you learn Chinese step-by-step, as well as interactive and fun lessons to master the Chinese language!
 
Duolingo: Duolingo has become a household name when it comes to foreign language learning. Sign up a free account to enjoy great lessons, learning materials, podcasts, discussion forums and fun challenges. Duolingo focuses on interaction and real-time practice instead of textbook style learning and teaching. You can learn at your own pace on Duolingo with everyday scenarios, and it would encourage you by giving out awards and achievement to keep you going. It would also keep track of your progress and send reminders if you get lazy. However, it could be somewhat difficult to jump in if you are completely new to a language since it doesn’t offer a methodical, step by step course so to say.
 
Coursera: Coursera is one of the best sites to offer high quality MOOCs across various subjects, including Chinese. It currently has more than a hundred courses on Chinese and Mandarin learning taught by renowned universities such as Peking University, Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Taiwan university. You can find free courses for any level of Chinese, ranging from Chinese grammar to Chinese characters, or add $29 – $49 for a certificate. It is a great chance to take structured Chinese courses taught by real professors for free! Go for universities in China if you are learning Simplified Chinese and universities in Hong Kong or Taiwan if you are a fan of Traditional Chinese!
 
Alison: Alison offers a wide range of online courses and all of them are free! It currently hosts quite a few courses on basic Chinese, not a bad place to start your learning journey. One of its hottest Chinese courses is the “Diploma in Basic Chinese Language Studies” by Cambridge University. You can learn how to pronounce Chinese using Pinyin and understand how the Chinese character is formed. Like coursera, the course are free to enroll but you will have to pay a few bucks if you want to have a certificate.
 
Udemy: Although most of the courses on Udemy are not free, it does offer some Chinese learning courses free of charge. It currently hosts 13 short free online Chinese lessons. Most of the lessons are less than 2 hours long and they covers topic including daily conversation, short stories and other beginners’ Chinese. If you like the free courses, you can always sign up and pay for more advanced or sophisticated lessons. 
 

Free Online Chinese Classes (Video Lessons)

Love watching Youtube videos but feel guilty of wasting too much time? Why not learn Chinese at the same time? Here are some great Youtube channels that can provide you with a fun and relaxing experience learning Chinese, as well as some other websites that also provides video learning resources.
 

[Youtube Channels]

Yoyo Chinese: You can find a lot of high-quality Chinese learning videos in this channel. The host YangYang consistently delivers nice videos covering Chineses grammar, Pinyin, and important basics. She does a great job of going beyond textbook Mandarin and lets you hear real-world Chinese with professional presentations, effective teaching methods and concise explanations. High quality online Chinese learning videos aren’t always easy to come by, but Yoyo Chinese provides exactly just that. You can also find more of her video lessons on YoyoChinese.com.
 
Mandarin MadeEZ by ChinesePod:  Created by ChinesePod.com, this channel aims to provide a fun and relaxed environment for anyone who’s trying to learn Chinese. You will discover interesting videos on Chineses vocabulary, common term usage, listening practices and much more. There are also videos like Chinese Drinking Culture to let you get a taste of what life in China might be like. If you like their videos, you can visit Chinesepod.com for more paid lessons.
 
ChineseFor.Us: This channel provides a lot of videos for Chinese beginners and also for those aiming to take the HSK tests. One great thing about this channel is that almost all the videos come with English and Pinyin subtitles, making it super easy to catch up to the contents. Coupled with clear pronunciation and detailed explanation by the host, ChineseFor.Us is definitely a go to for beginners that is taking on a new language.
 
HelloChinese: Although it is a relatively smaller youtube channel, HelloChinese still offers quite a few useful videos. Its videos mostly features interviews, explanation on popular words and interesting things happening in China. Not a bad choice you want to freshen up your Chinese listening skills.
 

[Other video lessons]

New Concept Mandarin: This site has some of the best video lessons on Chinese. You can access free contents on 3 different levels of Chinese as well as some courses in Business Chinese. This is ultimately a paid site so you will need to pay a few dollars to access the entire content. However you can still enjoy the free video contents provided for practice or a refresher!
 

Free Online Chinese Classes (Audio Lessons)

Don’t have the time to take courses or watch video lessons? Tired of doing exercises and practices? Why not listen to some Chinese on the go or during a coffee break? We found a few websites and podcasts just for that. You can also listen to audiobooks if you love a literary journey.
 

[Online audio lessons]

China Education Center: This site offers quite a few basic and simple Chinese lessons, perfect for beginners to dig in. And the best thing is – they all come with audio files! It currently offers 32 free online lessons you can take for free. Topics ranging from introduction, questions to even market bargaining! While most of these lessons are quite short, they are all complete with translation, Pinyin, vocabulary and audio files. Good for establishing some basic understanding of Chinese.
 
Loecsen: Loecsen is an interesting language learning site and wouldn’t strictly count as an online audio lesson website per say. However it offers the unique opportunity for you to record your own pronunciation and listen back. It would first read you different idioms and phrases for you to follow and record. You can also take some small quizzes to test what you just learned!
 
Chinese.gratis: Chinese.gratis also hosts a number of free Chinese learning lessons. It currently has 28 online classes from Chinese characters to grammar, dialogues and vocabulary. All the lessons comes with audio recordings and small exercises. What’s best about this site is that it also contains a lot of useful resources such as Audio Picture Book, Practice Sheet, Pinyin Exercises and Online Dictionary.
 

[Audiobooks]

Librivox.org: This is a great website if you like listening to audio books. It has a wide range of Chinese audio books in the public domain to choose from. Genres include fiction, drama, romance, biography and even children’s books. You can also volunteer to read books in your native language if you feel like giving back to the community.
 
Ximalaya: Ximalaya is one of the best sources for free Chinese audio books these days and it has thousands of them for you to choose from. Its collection includes latest novels, children books, music, podcasts and other popular books on the market, and you can listen or download most of them for free. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a English version so it could be quite hard to navigate for a Chinese newbie.
 
Tingbook.com: This is another great Chinese sites to find free audiobooks. It charges a very small amount for downloads and some listening into latter paragraphs. The site is also in Chinese so use this as a backup for Ximalaya or when you can’t find what you are looking for.
 

[Podcasts]

Coffee Break Chinese: Hosted by Crystal and Mark, this amazing podcasts is one of the highest quality available for free online. It has a total of 42 episodes, with each one running for 20 – 30 minutes. The podcast is great for practicing your listening and for beginners since Mark would act as the student and would explain or ask questions and in English, making it very easy for beginners to follow and practice their listening and understanding.
 
iMandarinpod: This podcast releases a new episode every 1 – 3 days so you would never get bored listening to them. One episode typically runs for 5 – 10 minutes and features topics like news, dialogues or discussions. You can also find the Chinese transcript beneath them for easy comparison.
 
Learn Chinese Through Stories: Just as its name suggests, this is a fun little site that helps you learn Chinese through different stories. Some stories are audio only and some comes in video versions. One nice thing about this site is that it also includes a lot of classic Chinese stories or fairy tales so you can learn some Chinese culture and history at the same time!
 
Melnyks Chinese: This series contains over 100 episodes with each lasting 15 – 20 minutes. The podcasts cover a very wide range of topics mostly involving common term usage and different situations. Most of the episodes starts with situational dialogues followed by English and Chinese explanations. Definitely a good source for everyday practice. If you really like their contents, you can pay $97/year to access PDF transcript, translations, worksheet and additional situational dialogues.
 

Other Online Chinese Learning Resources

Here are some other useful online Chinese learning resources you can use to improve your Chinese skills for free!
 
  • BBC: BBC does a great job on providing language learning resources and has a page dedicated to Chinese learning. It contains online Chinese learning video and audio courses, vocabulary, grammar, news, radio and TV, even Chinese for children.
 
  • Hacking Chinese: This is a great Chinese learning blog for an complete overview of Chinese learning strategies for all levels and all the necessary skills. Olle Linge, the founder of the blog, really goes into detail on memorization techniques, different learning tools and generally makes learning Chinese much more transparent. The information could be a little overwhelming at first, but you could get a lot out of it if you spend some on it.

 

Have you found the perfect way to learn Chinese online?

Learning a new language doesn’t necessary mean spending a lot of money and time taking courses in classrooms. Make the most out of these amazing free online lessons and learning resources to help you master Chinese and open a new door!
 
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Alicia Mcgill

Alicia Mcgill

Language expert with over 10 years of professional teaching and tutoring experience. Loves surfing, traveling and sharing useful tips and advice on language learning!

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