Mandarin Monday: The Best News Apps to Help You Learn Chinese

Mandarin Monday is a weekly column where we help you improve your Chinese by detailing learning tips, fun and practical phrases, and trends.

Learning languages from textbooks can help ensure that you are able to build a solid foundation and get to grips with basic grammatical structures and vocabulary. But in order to understand how these rules are applied and transformed in the various contexts of daily life, there is no better pedagogical tool than the ever-evolving world of social media. As Confucius even once said: 三人行,必有我师焉 sān rénxíng, bì yǒu wǒ shī yān, “In a crowd, there’s always someone to learn from.”

However, while social media can provide an eye-opening lesson in colloquialisms and the occasional vulgarity, its chaotic, rapid-fire nature hardly makes it a suitable platform to whittle away the blind spots in your Chinese. Luckily, there is a better way, one that retains some of the freshness of social media without becoming overbearing: newsfeed apps. With their friendly interfaces, a varied selection of topics from trusted sources, they can anyone with an intermediate understanding of Chinese take their study to a whole new level. Click the title to download the app from the App Store.

1. iDaily (difficulty: 2/5)

Best suited to intermediate learners, iDaily provides image-focused briefings of daily global news. Each of the briefings is limited to 200 words, making it less intimidating than other outlets and allowing for comprehension testing. A fun design flourish is that the user interface will pin the news on the map to show the distance between you, the user, and the location of the event, creating a sense of globality even if you’re far away.

2. Houxu – 后续 hòuxù (difficulty: 3/5)

Houxu’s slogan is “News that has memory.” To achieve that sense recollection, they employ a timeline for each story, tracing each major development all the way back to the start of the event. The result is a practical thread that weaves pieces of stories together and creates an ongoing storyboard. For Chinese learners, this has the added benefit of bringing attention to repeating keywords that link different topics, and also help build a better understanding of how stories progress using increasingly specific terminology.

3. Kzfeed – 快知 kuài zhī (difficulty: 4/5)

Compared to the apps above, Kzfeed provides more freedom to its users by allowing them to customize their news feed based on interests or algorithms. Sources are not limited to print or traditional media outlets but also encompass government websites and “self-media.” You’ll also find more video and visual content, which is useful for learners wanting to practice their listening skills.

4. Q Daily – 好奇心日报 hàoqí xīn rìbào (difficulty: 5/5)

As the Chinese name suggests, Q Daily aims to satiate your daily curiosity for news, compiling personal and in-depth perspectives on current affairs unlike anything you’ll find in stale state media. While you’ll find the usual standardized news categories here, where Q Daily truly excels is in its more niche columns which function more like mood boards or personal diaries from their contributors. Also, they add a more interactive element to the news by allowing users to vote and express their attitudes towards various social phenomenons in their “Curiosity Laboratory.”

This content was originally published here.

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