New Chinese Learning App Roundup!

There’s been quite a few great new apps released for both iOS and Android recently that would make a great addition to any Chinese learner’s toolbox. So in this post I wanted to highlight a few of them and share with everyone to take a look at! I’ve also included screenshots at the very end of the post.

Pinyin Browser152x152

  • Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPad)
  • Free but has in-app purchases
  • Official app website can be found here.

Pinyin Browser is a lovely little browser app that allows you to insert Pinyin or even Zhuyin above the text on any website that has Chinese text. This is a great way to practice pronunciation as you read news, blog posts, and more on the web.

In the free version, you’re limited to what websites you can visit. To get access beyond these trial sites, you need to pay $1.99 to upgrade.

You can find Pinyin Browser for iOS here.

Laowai Pro975318_larger

  • Platform: iOS (iPhone, iPad)
  • Free but offers in-app purchases
  • Official app website can be found here

A relatively lightweight app, Laowai Pro provides a selection of texts for you to read and lookup words as you go. It also has flashcards and an SRS system integrated into it, though I prefer using the app to read. The selection of texts are primarily Chinese Classics and a few news articles. Dream of the Red Mansion is also included.

The app also has the options to switch to Traditional, too. You can pay $1.99 to remove ads and $4.99 to get a stack of 30,000+ flashcards.

You can find Laowai Pro for iOS here.


  • Platform iOS (iPhone, iPad); Android coming soon
  • Free but requires account
  • Official app website can be found here.

Some may remember the early stages of the Mandaread website, and while it seemed dormant for a while, they’ve come out with a rather well done app. They have a large variety of texts organized by level (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) and offer popups for each vocabulary word in the text. I also appreciate that they have pre-defined courses to get you started.

One downside is that you can’t switch between Traditional and Simplified Chinese, with the app currently only offering the texts in Simplified.

You can get Mandaread for iOS here.

For all the Above..

I’d recommend picking them all up since they’re all free and really good at different things. Plus, the articles in both Laowai Pro and Mandaread are quite different, so you’ll always have interesting and new content to read.

Have you used any of these? Let me know what you think in the comments!

For screenshots of the apps, click below.

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“You sold me out!”

A staple of any good mafia movie is when one of the guys rats out someone for fun and/or profit.

And guess what? Chinese has an awesome phrase for a situation like that, too!


你出賣我!(nǐ chūmài wǒ)

出賣 is actually a set phrase which, aside from meaning quite literally “to sell”, also means “to sell out/betray”.

You can also 出賣朋友, too, but that’s not really all that nice to do is it? :(

It’s super fun and versatile to use, and I totally recommend you try using to joke around with your friends.

It’s also used in the name of a song, too!

The Skritter Android Beta is Out!

Good news for Skritter users with Android devices–the Skritter Beta for Android is out!

Check out the post below for a few screenshots and brief overview. Also, learn how to get a three-week free trial (instead of the usual one week) to test out the app!

With a cute splash screen to boot!

With a cute splash screen to boot!

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Performing a little surgery

So recently I had the opportunity to perform a bit of surgery on an iPhone. A relative had accidentally dropped their iPhone 4, smashing the screen into a web of glass that even Spiderman would be proud of:

Spins a web, any size

Spins a web, any size

Getting it fixed by Apple meant buy a new phone. Other repair guys were giving us estimates of $90-130, sometimes even saying it would take a few days.

Well, nuts to that I say!

So I offered to just do the repair myself–being a huge fan of iFixit, I figured, what could go wrong? (And anyway there’s that iPhone 6 thing, so if I broke it I’m actually helping them to upgrade!)

I found this company out of California called iCracked. They seemed pretty reputable and offered kits at a decent price ($10 less than iFixit, plus free shipping). I ordered their iPhone 4 kit and set to work!

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Android, wash up and go to sleep! Android 可以洗洗睡了



I came across this phrase in the title of an article from TechOrange (a super great Chinese language tech news website by the way. You should bookmark it now!).

洗洗睡(xǐxǐshuì)is a fun Chinese internet slang term, which means something like “wash up and get to bed” or “don’t waste your energy”. Check out the article and see why they think Android no longer has a lead on iOS.

In case you were curious, to describe this meaning in Chinese it would be:「洗澡(洗臉)刷牙睡覺去吧」(“wash up and get to bed”) -or-「不要白費力氣了」(“don’t waste your energy”)

Now whether or not what the article says is true, well, I guess we’ll find out this fall!

Release the stationary!

Seen at work: letthestationaryfree

Let’s break this down!

  • 文具 (wénjù): stationary
  • 解放區 (Jiěfàngqū): liberation area


解放 (Jiěfàngqū): liberation

區 (Jiěfàngqū): area/district

Historical tidbit! 解放區 can also refer to cities liberated by the Chinese Communists during the Chinese civil war.

While the stationary itself is saying「快讓我重見天日!」


快 (kuài): quick

讓 (ràng): let/allow

我 (wǒ): me

重見天日 (chóngjiàntiānrì): [idiom] to see the light again; deliver from oppression

In total we get: “Stationary Liberation Area” — “Quick, deliver me from oppression!”

A little workplace fun goes a long way to helping you learn a language!

A Quick Look at “Learn a Chinese Phrase”


I was recently contacted by the Learn a Chinese Phrase team from Wayne State University about a video series they put together. I must admit this was pretty surprising, considering I went to school in Michigan and had friends at Wayne State University, too. So I was quite curious to see what they had put together, and now I’m sharing with you! Enjoy.

First up, here’s some basic background on the program: Learn a Chinese Phrase was started in November 2011 by the Confucius Institute at Wayne State University. The goal they hope to accomplish is to teach Chinese through interesting and fun idioms. They take a Chinese idiom and, if it has an English equivalent, teach it by association for the student to both learn the idiom and structure as well.

As of this post, Learn a Chinese Phrase has 63 videos already online. In addition to the 2-minute idiom videos, there are 10 accompanying supplementary videos. In these videos, the teacher takes the idiom just presented and breaks it down for the student. I have to admit, the videos are actually pretty cute at times (I liked the one about being stingy) and I found them quite enjoyable to watch.

I got to talk with John Brender, Ph.D. who is in charge of the project and asked him what they plan to do in the future. He replied:

We are in the process of producing a mobile app to enable users to take these lesson on the go. The app will allow users to take our lessons on the go and test their knowledge on each lesson via the interactive in-app quizzes.

I’m a huge fan of digital apps for learning Chinese on the go, so I am really looking forward to seeing what they put together! If you’re interested, here are links to one of their idiom videos and a supplementary lesson.

You can find “Learn a Chinese Phrase” on YoutubeFacebook, or follow them on Twitter.

If you happen to check it out, let me know what you think in the comments below!