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WeChat Mini Programs & 5 Useful Cases

WeChat is the power app in China. Anything can be done with WeChat. Recently the platform reached more than 1 billion monthly active users. To simplify life even further, in early 2017, Tencent came out with Mini Programs, and they have become a Chinese mobile sensation. Below is an overview of WeChat mini programs and some of the best case studies out there.

What are WeChat Mini Programs?

As digital marketing agency 31Ten puts it, “mini programs are ‘lite’ apps embedded in WeChat meant for disposable O2O interactions, at the fraction of the cost of a traditional app (20-40%)”. Basically, mini programs are like apps within WeChat, but that you don’t need to download, as they are already available and enabled within WeChat. We all have so many apps on our phone nowadays, so not having to download a new one is a truly a blessing. With the addition of mini programs, WeChat wanted to create its own ecosystem of apps that would replace native apps. Below is an example of bike-sharing platform Mobike, with the WeChat mini program on the left, and the native app on the right (ChinaChannel).

These mini programs have very good UX and are more simplistic in their design, with fewer pages and high-quality visuals. This is because mini programs are purpose-driven. You you them when you need them, leave the mini program and then come back to it later. This makes fewer steps and excellent design a must, and is also why the time to create a mini program is much shorter than that to create a native application.

Mini programs have a different “signature.” The standard square QR code is what is used to identify individuals or companies on WeChat. Mini programs look different, as they have a rounded QR code with the green mini program “logo” in the corner. The four dots and the green accent give it away as a mini program. This is an example of a mini program. This is actually the Tencent Demo for mini programs, so if you scan it, you can see the various functions you can have from standard buttons, to geolocalization, which is highly useful and used by developers when creating mini programs.


5 Most Useful Mini Programs

There are so, so many mini programs nowadays, and its quite hard to filter through all of them and identify the ones that can benefit you. So, below, I’ve compiled some of the ones that I have actually used and swear by. These are not necessarily the coolest in design, but they are definitely the most useful when it comes to daily life in China. Here they are, In no particular order. Enjoy!


1. Tencent Surveys 腾讯投票

This is such an underrated mini program!! If you want to create a poll or a short questionnaire, you can use this mini program and it will generate one for you. Super useful to organize events, answer quick questions, and gather quick statistics. There is a range of survey organization you can pick, and you can have multiple choice answers or a simple “yes” or “no” answer choice, depending on your preference. Scan the code below and see for yourself!

2.  Sleepy Sounds 小睡眠

If you have trouble falling to sleep at night, then this is the mini program you need. It essentially has a huge selection of noises and soundtrack to make you fall asleep. The ones shown above are cat’s purring and birds chirping. This is one of the top ranking mini programs, so check it out and sweet dreams!

3. Ofo 小黄车官方版

This is more self-explanatory one. If you need to get around Shanghai, the two main options you have are Ofo and Mobike. I prefer Ofo just because I found the registration process much simpler than with Mobike, and the locking/unlocking function to be more secure. But in all honesty, whatever floats your boat. They are pretty much the same. I’m a sucker for yellow, and seeing the color instantly brightens up my day, so maybe that’s also a reason for all I know.

Don’t bother downloading the app, just use the mini program and you’ll save space on your phone and time!

4. Kering 开云集团创新奢侈品实验室

This is a really cool mini program that Kering came out with last year. With more people paying attention to brands that emphasize CSR and are more respectful of the environment, Kering created this mini program that gained great fame. After imputing all the details of the material and origin of your clothing or accessories, you’ll see an environmental footprint that is generated. Using carbon emissions, air and water pollution and more, a monetary number is produced, that translate into a monetary number based on manufacturing, logistics, sourcing, and production.

Play around with the functions below. You’ll see it’s certainly very eye-opening.

5. Jump Jump 跳一跳

This is for those long bus or metro rides in the morning. If you don’t know what to do, play this game. It’s super addicting and it went viral recently due to the fun nature of the game and the number of people playing. All it consists of is pressing on your smartphone screen and making a little figure jump from one block to another. Super simple in concept, super addictive in the long run. See for yourself and jump, jump!


China Chinese General Language Tips

Ultimate Guide to Chinese Textbooks: Beginner to Advanced

Learning Chinese is difficult as it is. No need to complicate that more with hard to track resources or unknown textbook gems. Below, I’ve created the ultimate guide of Chinese textbooks. These are the best of the best on the market. These can be used both in the classroom but, for Chinese self-learners like me, I completely understand the struggle of identifying which books you should buy. Are they the correct level? Is there English also? Are the explanations good? Will my listening improve? And many more questions. The struggle is real, I know. So, I’ve made this list with only the best books, for beginners up until the advanced level.

I previously written an article listing the Best Resources for Learning Chinese. In this article are the best apps, dictionaries, and more. Now, onto the textbooks.

Beginner Stage

At this point, you are just starting off, so the main things you want to focus on when purchasing a textbook are:

  • Radicals
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar

When you are starting off, I recommend following a textbook series, that can guide you through the beginning stage. This will leave you ultimately with a strong foundation. There’s four options I recommend.

1. Integrated Chinese

This is perhaps the most famous one, used by the majority of professors and a common choice for beginners in Mandarin.


Above is what the older 3rd edition used to look like. Below is the new editions. Aren’t they pretty?

The updated 4th edition series comes with 4 volumes of Textbooks, each with an accompanying Workbook and Character Workbook. The Character Workbooks in particular are super helpful when starting and the set up they have make it easy to learn the stroke order and practice making your characters legible. The Workbooks also complement the Textbooks nicely.

2. New Practical Chinese Reader

As you can see there are six levels in the New Practical Chinese Reader series. These roughly correspond to the HSK 1-6 levels, so it’s convenient if you want to continue with one single series.

They’ve updated the volumes 1-4 editions recently. Volumes 1-4 all include a Textbook and Workbook. There is also an option for a Character Workbook and a Companion Reader to practice reading, but these are definitely harder to track down. Volumes 5 and 6 only come with a Textbook.

There’s also a Test and Quizzes booklet you can purchase for Volume 1 to use as a self-test to verify your knowledge.

You can continue with this both these series until you complete them, but in general, they are ideal for the beginner who is just starting out. The beginning levels, Volumes 1-2, are what I recommend. Personally, I believe there are better options for the Intermediate and Advanced stages.


Intermediate to High-Intermediate Stage

At this stage, you should know an acceptable level of vocabulary and the majority of the primary grammar. Here, you want to focus mainly on:

  • Idioms (成语)
  • Sentence structures
  • Vocabulary
  • More complex dialogues/longer text

This is the awkward middle stage of language-learning where textbooks are a bit harder to find and quality ones are extremely difficult to locate. Below are the cream of the crop, as they say.

1. Beyond the Basics

This is by far, one of my favorite Chinese textbooks books, along with the next recommendation.

After completed the Level 2, Part 2 of the 3rd Edition Integrated Chinese series, I transferred over this Beyond the Basics. It was a big of jump in level, but a challenge that I loved. I found the Integrated Chinese books to be quite repetitive and predictable, so Beyond the Basics was the perfect next textbook.

It has nice, long passages, a huge variety of words, including useful supplementary vocabulary. A balanced range of idioms, and useful exercises integrated at the end each chapter are also super useful in increasing your vocabulary range. Each chapter has a different topic, unlike the Integrated Chinese series which is based on a set of characters and their life in school. At the intermediate level, it is definitely more interesting to speak about social issues and more practical conversations you might actually have in Chinese, if you know what I mean.

Another option you could go for is the A New China textbook, which is the textbook that comes before this next book recommendation. While I have used the next book, I have never used A New China, so I cannot vouch for its quality. Nevertheless, briefly looking at the content, it appears to be a slightly easier textbook compared to the Beyond the Basics.

2. All Things Considered

This is my other textbook love, in addition to Beyond the Basics. This is called an Advanced Reader, but I would actually classify it is being at the High-Intermediate stage. It introduces the learner perfectly to the Advanced stage.

This is like the advanced continuation of Beyond the Basics. The transition from one to the other is so smooth and the vocabulary is extremely useful and practical. There are so many useful sentence structures and grammar examples. There’s also numerous exercises at the end of each chapter that emphasize synonyms and grammar points.

This textbook is split into two parts. The first 12 chapters are in the format of dialogues. Chapters 13 to 32 are real newspaper articles that were published in the past. This is a great way to smoothly switch into the advanced stage of Chinese.


Advanced Stage

Actually, at this stage you can experiment with simpler novels or reading newspapers. You don’t need to stick to the traditional textbook approach. However, I fully know that having the structure of a textbook is something many people like, so I’ve included a few of my favorites below. If you do want to buy a textbook at this stage, you should focus on:

  • Diverse vocabulary
  • Idioms (成语 and 俗语)
  • Oral/Colloquial Chinese
  • Advanced sentence structures

1. Discussing Everything


This is a 2-volume set, the first being advertised at the Upper Intermediate level and the second at the Advanced level. To be completely honest, both should be classified as advanced. I remember taking this book around the time of Beyond the Basics and it was too difficult and overwhelming. A challenge is nice, but it needs to be a suitable one when it comes to languages like Mandarin.

In any case, this series is structured with main chapters with an overall, looser theme, and then subsections with more specific dialogues and paragraph text.

Many colloquial and informal Chinese words are introduced, which is super helpful. A wide range of advanced vocabulary is also listed, as well as a huge range of example sentences.

2. Advanced Spoken Chinese


If you want to improve your colloquial Chinese and, at the same time, learn more about Chinese culture, then look no further. This book is a set of 2 and provides dialogues according to common daily life scenarios. There is almost no English in these books, which is something to note, in comparison with the others mentioned.

There are also supplementary texts that are provided that are useful, as well as a comprehensive lists of idioms and commonly used advanced phrases.

By this point, read novels, articles, and newspapers. Immerse yourself in different media forms. Listen to Chinese podcasts and music, watch Chinese TV shows and TV programs. The more you immerse yourself, the faster and better you will learn. It’s that simple.

If I had had this list when first starting to learn Chinese, I would have saved so much time and energy searching for the best resources. So, I really hope you find this useful. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below and share this with all your friends! Invite more people to learn Chinese!

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A Complete Guide to ICOs

Everywhere nowadays we hear the terms IPO, ICO, tokens, and blockchain. But what does any of this mean? There are so many articles on this, but the information is many times unclear for a beginner to ICOs. Here is a complete guide to ICOs, including everything from what it is, a bit of history, the pros and cons, and more!



More articles by Ludovica Fonsato

Best Resources for Learning Chinese & Study Tips

Art and Culture in Shanghai

Healthy Eating in Shanghai

WeChat Official Account Guide & Top 5 Digital Marketing Accounts to Follow


Business China Digital Business eCommerce GAFABAT Marketing Mobile News platforms Strategy Success in China Tips WeChat

WeChat Official Account Guide & Top 5 Digital Marketing Accounts to Follow

There are so, so many WeChat Official Accounts available for people to join. Today, shops, individuals, and brands all have official accounts. It can be hard and stressful to find the most useful ones.

Most people don’t know that there are different types of official accounts. These vary in functions and purposes. Below, the types are explained clearly so that you can identify which one is suited best to your needs.

I have also made a list of the top 5 digital marketing WeChat Official Accounts everyone should follow! They are all in English, don’t worry. If anyone is interested in a Chinese version of this list, let me know and I’ll make one ASAP!


Types of WeChat Official Accounts

The are 3 types of WeChat Official Accounts. The two main types are a Subscription Account and Service Account, along with an Enterprise Account.

Subscription Account

A Subscription Account is found in the Subscription Folder within WeChat. All Subscription Accounts are held within this folder, as shown below.

With a Subscription Account you are allowed 1 message per day, but no push notifications. The red dot you see in the corner signalizes a new message. However, accounts are all inside the folder, so you do not see which account has a new message.


Image credit:


Individuals and businesses can both create a Subscription Account. Usually, news, media-based sources, and magazines all tend to be Subscription Accounts. This is precisely because they can post new content every day.

Finally, a Subscription Account can be converted into a Service Account, which is important to note.


Service Account

A Service Account, on the other hand, offers more advanced features and can post messages 4 times a month. A Service Account can also push notifications because it is listed as an independent friend in your chat list.


Image credit:


In a Service Account, you can integrate payment. This makes them a popular option for e-commerce businesses. There are also options to communicate with users, which is very helpful.

There are numerous more features on Service Accounts so consider this when choosing.


Enterprise Account

An Enterprise Account is, as the name suggests, for internal company management. A unique feature of Enterprise Accounts is that both users as well as the account individual(s) must authorize each other. Content on this type of account cannot also be published to authorization users. So, it is a good tool for management information and news within a company.


Top 5 Digital Marketing Accounts to Follow

(in alphabetical order)

1. ChCh

WeChat ID: China-Channel

China Channel specializes in everything WeChat. The posts range from upcoming trends, to useful tools and resources. My personal favorites are their WeChat User Reports, and their WeChat Trends Reports.

The China Chat Conference is also run by China Channel, where numerous WeChat related topic are addressed. These range from KOLs to E-Commerce.


2. ChoZan

WeChat ID: chozanhk

ChoZan are the ones to go to for Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. They post articles on WeChat content management, resources, and frequently discuss other apps, providing useful comparisons.

My personal favorites are the various lists they post of various ways to generate traffic. This is done via WeChat content, successful brand campaign suggestions, as well as apps and platforms that everyone should be aware of.

Most importantly, the content they post is super PRACTICAL and interesting to read.


3. Curiosity China

WeChat ID: premiumlife

Curiosity China provides quality articles and content on lifestyle, retail, and luxury brands. They post interest reports on Luxury Brands and the success of past campaign strategies. Curiosity China focuses on Social CRM and digital marketing through their own in-house tool called CURIO.

Like ChoZan, I really enjoy their lists where they showcase the Best Luxury WeChat Campaigns and demonstrate success stories in digital marketing in China.


4. Walk the Chat

WeChat ID: walkthechat

The Walk the Chat Team is an expert in everything WeChat. Everything from opening an Official Account to KOL advertising, and store management is available. Their articles are clear, well-written and useful.

My favorites are the recent China Digital Luxury Report for 2018 and the WeChat Mini Program Statistics for 2018.

In general, they provide concise articles and are always up to date with the information provided!

5. 31Ten

WeChat ID: thirty-one-ten

Last but not least, is 31Ten, which is definitely a personal favorite. What I most appreciate from them is their Case Studies and exhaustive design and marketing related articles. But they also post video tutorials!

My absolute favorites are the Baidu Marketing video, their impressive list of E-Commerce Tactics, and their most famous piece, the WeChat Bible. This is a must for anyone learning or interested in digital marketing in China.


Honorable Mentions

  • KAWO focuses on WeChat and Weibo media management
  • ParkLU is a KOL/Influencer Platform
  • Pltform品牌管理 posts bilingual content on platform and media management
  • TMO Group is an e-commerce agency specialized in e-commerce and O2O
China Chinese E-Commerce Plateforms eCommerce General Life in China Lifestyle

Healthy Eating in Shanghai

Healthy Eating in Shanghai

Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet in Shanghai, is hard, but not impossible. There are a plethora of restaurants that cater to various diets including to the vegetarian, vegan, and (rarely) the gluten-free diet. However, constantly going out to eat is quite expensive, and the receipts will build up quickly in your wallet.

On a similar note, many foreigners oftentimes find themselves missing the western cuisine and occidental tastes. There are more and more restaurants that are specialized in more traditionally “Western” food. Sometimes, though we all just want to cook some yummy, healthy food at home.

Therefore, here, below, you will find the best grocery stores and online stores you can check out to order healthy and organic food. Also, just to note, they are all in ENGLISH, so no worries for the ordering, payment, and delivery selection.

Kate and Kimi

Out of all the online grocery stores offering delivery services in Shanghai, Kate and Kimi is undoubtedly the best, in my opinion.

They offer organic produce, nutritious pre-cooked meals, imported food products, as well as a plethora of healthy food ingredients such as oils, grains, superfoods, legumes, and more. What is really unique is their large selection of special diet foods, ranging from imported gluten-free to vegan food options.

As they offer such a unique and catered set of products, their pricing is mid-to-high range, compared to smaller, local vendor shops. However, the quality and organic features attached to the products and service makes up for this higher price tag.

Furthermore, they offer delivery service to your door that can be selected depending on your schedule and personal delivery preferences. This is free once you spend above a certain amount and extremely convenient is you are a busy bee.



Epermarket is another valid and extremely popular choice among expats, as is Kate and Kimi. They focus on health eating and offers a strong loyalty program. This differs from Kate and Kimi, which focuses more on the quality of customer service and the delivery quality. In particular, Epermarket offers plentiful organic options as well as numerous specific food options. These range from those for sugar-free, vegetarian, and the gluten-free diet.

The price point level is comparable to Kate and Kimi, as it is mid-to-high range pricing. In my opinion, I find the slightly higher price point acceptable as you are assured quality, safe, and organic foods. The free delivery service once you reach a certain amount is always appreciate, too.

Something extremely useful that Epermarket offers is a mobile app version where consumers can search and place their orders. When you scan the QR code that is provided, you will be able to download the application, as well as simultaneously receive many points that can be used for your first order placed via mobile device.



Fields, like Kate and Kimi, and Epermarket, is also specialized in organic food and specific imported foods and healthy ingredients such as nuts, oils, superfoods, protein powders and more.

They also offer a decent selection of diet-specific foods, although a smaller offering than its competitors. Nonetheless, Fields offers seasonal boxes with a variety of vegetables and fruits that can be found according to the season and pre-ordered.

There a numerous sales that are constantly available on the website. In addition, they focus on the community aspect behind their store. They oftentimes host events outdoors to spread the word about their store and work with local organic companies.


Fields, like Epermarket, also offers the same mobile app option, which can you can directly download using the QR code above. In general, Fields is perhaps the less well-known company when compared to the aforementioned two. Nonetheless it is a fan-favorite when it comes to quality and health groceries.


City Shop

In contrast to the other stores, City Shop actually also has physical stores, in addition to have an online presence. Also a point related specifically to City Shop is store presence and brand awareness. Out of all of these, the best widely recognized brand is definitely City Shop. City Shop excels both in a high-quality loyalty program, as well as in excellent customer service. This is worth noting because it is the one that succeeds the most in both areas.

The food products offered are comparable to those of Fields and Epermarket. They focus less on the organic aspect that the aforementioned three brands emphasis and incorporate in their branding. Instead, they are primarily simply an imported foods grocer. Something to note is their almost non-existent selection of diet-specific foods. This is something to note if that is a dietary necessity you have when grocery shopping.

The price point is definitely the highest out of the four. However, they are score extremely high in loyalty programs and customer service. So, it truly depends on your own personal preference when shopping. If you want to also have a physical store you can go into and personally select the products, then City Shop might be the best option for you.

China General Lifestyle

Art and Culture in Shanghai

Art and Culture in Shanghai

One of the phrases that perhaps best encapsulates what it’s like to live in Shanghai is “so much to do, yet so little time“. There are business opportunities and networking events almost every day, as well as promotional events popping up left and right. However, apart from the food, business, and shopping that is available, what few people know about is the art and culture, especially the rotating art shows, events, and unique art-related places present in the modern Chinese city that is Shanghai.

Below, to help crave some of your artistic needs, are some of my favorite places to go in Shanghai for some artistic works and a pleasurable cultural experience. As you will see, I have divided them into categories, specializing from art and books, shopping, fashion and more!

Art and Books

My Recommendation: THE MIX PLACE 衡山和集

This bookstore truly is a hidden treasure. Finding international magazines in Shanghai is a struggle, as is finding special or limited editions of books and foreign coffee table books. Located in Xuhui district, this bookstore will fill this gap perfectly. The Mix Place consists of three floors.

The first floor includes a café, film-themed area with a variety of collector’s objects, as well as an area dedicated to select Chinese works of literature.

The second floor is a bookworm’s paradise with a large range of art, design, and photography books, in English.

The real magic happens on the third floor, though. Here, all the walls are covered with a range of international magazines, the majority of which are unheard of by many and undoubtedly unique. A few of my personal favorites that can be found here are Cereal, Holiday, and The White Review, although there really is a magazine for every individual’s taste.


880 Hengshan Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai



Art and Shopping

My Recommendation: K11

K11, coined as an “art mall,” had its grand opening in 2013 and is peculiar as it combines luxury retail with art. In fact, in addition to its range of high-end brand stores, such as Burberry and Max Mara, as well as restaurants and cafés, what is special about K11 and a key selling point for this mall is the amount of art present in the building.

In fact, K11 has a permanent collection of art pieces that are accessible to the public, but also frequent exhibitions, events, and workshops located in the K11 Art Space.

Some of the most popular past exhibitions include those of surrealist Salvador Dali, pop-surrealist Gary Baseman, and multi-media artist Jung Yeondoo, as shown above. Interestingly, there is also the K11 Art Foundation, a not-for-profit art incubation program with the sole purpose of aiding emerging artists to enter the contemporary art scene.

For more information, you can check out the official K11 website here.


300 Middle Huaihai Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai



Art and Fashion

My Recommendation: YUZ Museum 余德耀美术馆

With the intention of promoting dialogue between the East and West, the recently founded YUZ Museum frequently collaborates with fashion brands and contemporary art figures, which has led to extremely successful exhibitions such as that of American designer and pop artist KAWS, as shown above.

YUZ Museum is also devoted to art education, as to allow Chinese individuals to enjoy both Western and Chinese art, integrating the two seamlessly, offering an artistic experience like no other.

This is demonstrated, for example, by the exhibition of Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti, which encapsulates art, culture, as well as a particular cultural spirit enveloped in his art.

To learn more about the YUZ Museum and see their current, as well as past exhibitions, you can click here.


35 Fenggu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai



Art and (more) Art

My Recommendation: M50 Creative Garden

For a taste of quirky, urban, youthful art, look no further than M50. Named after the street it is located on, here you will find a plethora of art galleries. The showcased works range from everything modern, to traditional art, to sculpture and furniture.

There are also, of course, a few cafés sprinkled here and there within this “art district” and graffiti walls for that perfect #artselfie. Many of the galleries display pieces that can be purchased, so get your wallet ready!

Like K11, M50 also has a design incubation program for emerging creative artists in Shanghai. This is also why there is a rotating set of artists putting their work up for display. This makes M50 a place you can return to often, as the exhibitions and galleries frequently alternate, offering a new artistic experience each time!


50 Moganshan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai



Final Thoughts

Regardless of what your interest is, you will certainly find some art-related things to do, see, and purchase and Shanghai. Hopefully, here you have found some art-related suggestions of what to do next time you are free!

Apps China Chinese Language

Best Resources for Learning Chinese & Study Tips

So you want to learn Mandarin, but don’t know where to begin? Here you will find a list of all the best resources that I have used and recommend to people starting out the language learning process, which will take you from the beginning all the way to more advanced levels.

I have grouped the tools into Apps, Dictionaries, and Other Resources, and have listed my top 5 language-learning tips below, as well.


1. HelloTalk

Learn the language AND practice using it, with HelloTalk. Find native language partners and become fluent!

  • State your level in Chinese and find a native Chinese partner to practice with
  • You can send voice, text, and audio messages, all of which can can be corrected, so you can improve instantaneously
  • If there is something you want to save, you can bookmark it for later
  • Extremely friendly community where you find people that genuinely want to learn and improve


2. Drops

Do you want to learn Chinese, but are too lazy or too busy? Then Drops is the app for you!

  • Learn Chinese vocabulary for 5 minutes every day!
  • Starts from the radicals (essential when first beginning to learn Chinese) and works upward towards intermediate and advanced vocabulary
  • Extremely visual way of learning, with images, videos, and lots of colorful graphics (now even with AR functionality)
  • Presents the most commonly used and practical vocabulary words and groups them into categories (i.e. countries, sports, geography)
  • Fast-paced, fun, “gamified” learning experience


3. Hello HSK (series)

To practice for the HSK, look no further than the Learn Chinese – Hello Words apps.

  • The series includes an app for every HSK level, one for taking practice tests and another for vocabulary
  • Apart from the HSK series, there are also 2 other apps by the same company that I recommend (see the full list here):
    • Chinese Sound: useful for practicing tones and pronunciation
    • Business Vocab: for the advanced learner who wants to learn more about workplace and daily business vocabulary



1. Pleco

Clear and simple to use, Pleco offers the all the necessary characteristics of a good dictionary.

  • Search using English meaning, pinyin, or by handwriting the character (if you don’t know the pinyin)
  • Others functions available include:
    • Making flashcards for the words you want to practice
    • Practicing the correct stroke order of a character
    • Viewing sample sentences
    • Hearing the pronunciation of the expression
  • Particularly useful for idioms (成语), oral Chinese and slang

2. Youdao 网易有道词典

Originally made for the Chinese when learning English, this is a great tool for more advanced learners (functions are all in Chinese)

  • Search functions like Pleco, but you can also search for something using voice-operated search or by image-search
  • Provides Antonyms and Synonyms (extremely useful at the HSK 5/6 level)
  • Other functions available include:
    • Making flashcards for the words you want to practice
    • Translate longer sentences or blocks of text (available from Chinese to English, Japanese, Korean, or French)
      • You can also download the Youdao Fanyiguan 有道翻译官, which is essentially “Google Translate” but specialized in translating Chinese
  • Also has a desktop version, which can be accessed offline (although the information provided is more limited)



1. Lang-8

Have a native speaker correct your written work using Lang-8.

  • Particularly useful if you are a self-learner, since you have a native speaker available to correct your exercises or essays
  • Corrections frequently help you learn the linguistic nuances of certain expressions

2. Entertainment: Music & TV dramas

When starting off at the very beginning, the entertainment field is where you will enjoy learning Chinese the most.


  • If you hear a Chinese song you enjoy, print the lyrics and learn the vocabulary
  • Some of my personal recommendations (available on QQ Music, but also linked below on Youtube, with lyrics in the description bar) are:
    • 我想和你虚度时光 – 程璧 (Linked here)
    • 全世界誰傾聽你 – 林宥嘉 (Linked here)
    • 消愁 – 毛不易(Linked here)

TV Dramas

  • Even if you don’t understand, finding a TV show is really helpful to practice your listening comprehension and pronunciation
    • Improve your pronunciation by imitating the actors, regardless of what they are saying and even though you might not understand (once you are at the intermediate stage, you will be able to get portions of the dialogues)
    • Practice reading the subtitles and pause/repeat parts of the show
  • Romantic comedies are typically easier to follow, given that the conversation level is repetitive and more predictable than, for example, a spy drama with more complex terms
  • Some romantic comedies for beginners that I recommend (can be viewed legally on DramaFever) are:
    • 我可能不会爱你 (English title: In Time With You)
    • 没有名字的甜点店 (English title: The Patisserie with No Name)
    • 就想賴著妳 (English title: Down with Love)
    • 胜女的代价 (English title: Queen of SOP)



1. Have a reason for learning Chinese

Chinese is not your average language. You cannot expect to learn it for a few months and be fluent. It is a process that is time-consuming and occasionally stressful. Therefore, you need a reason for learning Chinese, whether it is wanting to read a Chinese novel in its native language, to needing it for work reasons. Whatever the reason, always have that at the back of your mind, and when in doubt, set smaller short-term goals that can help motivate you.

2. Speak, listen, write, and read simultaneously

When beginning, don’t prioritize reading over listening, for example. Learn the four features of Chinese at the same time. That way you will increase in the sections at an equal pace and, ultimately, you will learn faster.

Also, learn the characters from the start, don’t only rely on pinyin. In China, nothing is written in pinyin, only characters.

3. Get a Notebook

Jot down all your grammar points, vocabulary, example sentences, or anything else you find interesting regarding the language. Copy down music lyrics or vocabulary you hear mentioned in your favorite Chinese food restaurant. Whatever it is, copy it all into one notebook and look back at all your progress as time goes on.

4. Incorporate something Chinese in every one of your days

Let’s face it, we are all busy people, so learning Chinese every single day may not be possible. However, whether it’s listening to a Chinese song, attending a Chinese lesson, or practicing some vocabulary on your phone, try to incorporate something Chinese in your daily routine.

5. Find a native language buddy and PRACTICE

Whether it is a physical native Chinese individual you know, or via an app (like HelloTalk), find a native language buddy that will help you put into action what you are learning. Studying grammar points or vocabulary is simply not enough, especially with a language as complex as Chinese. You need to practice what you are learning and what better way to do that than with a native speaker?