Thanks to advancements in technology, learning Chinese is perhaps easier than ever.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an extremely challenging language for a native English speaker to grasp. But unlike when I was studying Spanish 10 years ago, improvements in videoconferencing and especially cellphone apps have made learning at all hours of the day more possible.

Before I took my first one-on-one Chinese lesson in May, I was learning basic vocabulary with the app HelloChinese. The app, which is free (!), uses mostly pinyin and features an enjoyable array of pictures, speaking activities and Chinese-character-writing exercises. My favorite part of the app is when a video recording of what appears to be a random Chinese person selected in public by the HelloChinese developers appears on the screen to utter a vocabulary word or phrase from the lesson.

Sources and technology key to balanced language education



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