Mengdian (萌典)

As far as pure Chinese language dictionaries go, this is one of the best ones out there. It has a smart new interface and pulls from a larger variety of sources. It’s a good resource to have when you come across any ambiguities in the English definitions for Chinese characters or phrases. I often like to pop into this dictionary to verify that I understand the meaning of the characters that I’m using. They source this dictionary directly from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. You can choose the phonetic system you want, but entries are in Traditional Chinese only.

Included in the app are also dictionaries for Taiwanese and Hakka, which are fun to reference if you happen to encounter those languages quite often (as happens in Taiwan).

Another really great thing about this dictionary is that you can get it for Android, iOS, as well as download it on Windows, OSX and even Linux.

Check out the online version here: https://www.moedict.tw/ There are links to the mobile apps at the top right of the page.

Pleco

It’s really hard to beat Pleco in terms of overall functionality, accessibility (both on iOS and Android), and the sheer number of add-ons that you can get. The variety of dictionaries available for purchase is also a huge asset that makes Pleco invaluable to any Chinese student. However, it is a significant investment to get in all of the features you might want to use (aside from a few dictionary options, pretty much all of the other add-ons cost money. For example, the app has a handwriting recognizing but costs $10 for the enhanced version). One of my favorite add-ons, however, are the Chinese <> Chinese dictionaries, seen in the first entry below.

Find out more about Pleco here.

 

Outlier Chinese

The Outlier Dictionary and accompanying posters started out as a Kickstarter project.

The app itself appears to still be in development, but from the previews online (see the image just below), it looks to be a very comprehensive and promising dictionary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.33.29 AM

In the meantime, they have two “Semantic Components” posters (not to be confused with radicals!), of which there are 100 in total. There’s plenty of detail on the posters, including the pronunciation, stroke order, variants, examples and more. These look great on the wall of any serious student.

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MDBG

MDBG has been around for a while, it is almost the staple online dictionary for Chinese language students. I started using it back when I first started taking Chinese in college, and have been using it ever since. Whether I am working on a translation, need a quick lookup, or just want to double check the Simplified/Traditional variant of a specific character, I find MDBG to be my go-to online dictionary.

It has these other great features:

  • handwriting recognition for writing characters if you don’t know the Pinyin to type it in;
  • looking up by radicals;
  • Chinese and Pinyin typing interfaces

Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.31.32 AM

 

Mandarin Poster

At the core, Mandarin Poster is just what it says it is–a poster for Mandarin. But it had a simple goal: create a study aid for the most basic Chinese characters to help beginners track their progress, while more advanced learners can see how they’re progressing as well as reference back to what they’ve learned before. So it’s a pretty universal tool, with fairly humble beginnings.

For starters–there’s now two character posters! There’s the original poster, which covered 1,000 characters, and now a second one which covers a further 1,000 characters. Not only that, but they also have a 1,500 character poster now as well.

They’ve also got an Elements of Chinese poster, which contains the most common components of the most common characters.

There’s more to be seen there, including self-print editions of their posters, typography maps, and a radical scroll (with both Pinyin and Zhuyin).

Hanping

I’ve already gone over this dictionary a bit in my Chinese Learning Apps for Android post, which you can take a look at here as well as in the recent tone colors post. The developer keeps the app updated regularly, and there is a whole series of related apps, including a soundboard and a Character popup reference tool.

Hanping is an Android exclusive app, but there’s a free version and a pro version available. The Pro version is totally worth the small investment, and opens up a bunch of great features, including AnkiDroid Flashcards and multi-dictionary support.

The free version is no slouch either, and includes handwriting recognition and audio pronunciation. So if you were on a tight budget, Hangping’s free version is a great option to start with (plus, no ads!).

Check out this more comprehensive review I put together, including the rest of the apps in the Hanping suite.

Check it out on Google Play here.

ClozeCards

ClozeCards is something I really wish I had in the early days of my studies, rather than huge vocabulary lists and fairly disjointed example sentences. There’s a huge benefit from learning new vocabulary this way, and I like the way that the site encourages you to write the Pinyin (with tones as well) when you go through the sentence. There’s also a nice little popup menu gives the definition and audio.

There’s also a large collection of texts, perfect for any level learner to jump in and learn.

Anki

Anki is pretty much the go-to SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) for language students, and is available on all major platforms including desktop (Windows, Mac and Linux, see download details here), iOS and Android.

There’s plenty of decks available online and it’s easy to import or create new decks yourself. With regular review and proper grading of your ability to remember each card, you’ll find you remember much more than just by using regular old flashcards.