Learning Mandarin for Free Online

Chi­na is on the upswing polit­i­cal­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly. Accord­ing to Gold­man Sachs, Chi­na’s econ­o­my may out­size every oth­er econ­o­my (except that of the U.S.) by 2016, and it could even sur­pass the Amer­i­can econ­o­my by 2039. Giv­en this, the hottest lan­guage being stud­ied right now by busi­ness trav­el­ers is Man­darin (see this New York Times piece). And, in my work at Stan­ford, we’re see­ing a very sharp increase in young and old stu­dents enrolling in Man­darin cours­es (and oth­er Chi­na-focused cours­es), for both per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons.

Learn­ing Man­darin can be cost­ly — some orga­ni­za­tions charge $2500 for a week-long course — but it does­n’t have to be. More rea­son­ably, you can pur­chase CD-Roms that will sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly teach you Man­darin at home, when your sched­ule per­mits, for a much more rea­son­able price (about $200). Roset­ta Stone offers one good exam­ple. Or you can do it even more cheap­ly, if not for free, with the help of pod­casts.

As you’ll see, there’s no short­age of Man­darin lan­guage lessons, and we invite you to peruse the list below. Of all of them, two tend to get par­tic­u­lar­ly high marks from users. The first is called Chi­nese Lessons with Serge Mel­nyk (iTunesFeedWeb Site). Put togeth­er by an Eng­lish speak­er who stud­ied Man­darin Chi­nese for almost 20 years (and who has lived in Bei­jing and Shang­hai for 12 years), the free pod­cast cur­rent­ly offers 90 lessons that last between 20 and 30 min­utes. A sec­ond option, which users also give pos­i­tive feed­back, is Chinesepod.com (iTunesFeedWeb Site). Pro­duced by native speak­ers, these dai­ly audio pod­casts, each run­ning 10–20 min­utes in length, will immerse you in col­lo­qui­al (read: use­ful) Man­darin. Impres­sive­ly, you can now find 100 pieces of audio in Chi­ne­se­pod’s large archive. While both of these pod­casts are free, each offers addi­tion­al learn­ing resources for a rea­son­able fee (though it appears that you can get by with­out them).

For more Chi­nese lessons, please vis­it our col­lec­tion: Learn Lan­guages for Free: Span­ish, Eng­lish, Chi­nese & Beyond

  • Chi­nese Learn Online iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A dia­logue-based intro­duc­tion to Man­darin Chi­nese. Load them on your iPod and get up the Chi­nese curve.
  • Chi­nese Lessons with Serge Mel­nyk iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Week­ly lessons in Man­darin that get very strong reviews from iTunes users.
  • Chinesepod.com iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A series of well-reviewed lessons that will let you learn Man­darin on your own terms.
  • iMandarinPod.com iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A more advanced pod­cast, this series of lessons teach­es Chi­nese by talk­ing about Chi­nese cul­ture or what is hap­pen­ing today in Chi­na.
  • LearnChinesePod.com iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A Man­darin lan­guage pod­cast taught by Yao in New York City.
  • Man­darin Chi­nese Con­ver­sa­tion iTunes Web Site
    • A lan­guage series put togeth­er by TimesOn­line.
  • Man­darin Chi­nese Feed Web Site
    • 10 Lessons by the US Peace Corps. Make sure you vis­it the site and down­load the pdf that accom­pa­nies the lessons.
  • Sur­vival Chi­nese iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn the phras­es you need to get by while trav­el­ing in Chi­na.
  • World Learn­er Chi­nese iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Anoth­er in the mix of pos­si­bil­i­ties.

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