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Our top 5 tips for keeping on top of your Chinese

Rosie Loyd

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Whilst learning a language can often be rewarding and exciting, you will most likely find yourself struggling from time to time. They are a commitment, but the more you put in, the greater progress you’ll make. Our Current Affairs Editor, Rosie Loyd, a 3rd year Spanish and Mandarin Student, takes you through her top 5 tips for keeping on top of your Chinese knowledge – both the language and cultural-awareness.

The Chairman’s Bao

Launched in 2015 by three friends who all studied Chinese at UK universities, The Chairman’s Bao (TCB) is the perfect resource for students on the hunt for material to complement their Chinese language degree. Depending on your HSK level, you can adjust the difficulty to see what latest news stories have been hitting the headlines.

Once on an article, you can listen, read, instantly learn new words with their in-article dictionary, and afterwards complete grammar and comprehension exercises. TCB also has an app, so it is great for studying on the go! They have also just begun a series called ‘Frank Talks’ in which articles are discussed in Mandarin and students can listen in to different opinions on certain topics.

Most UK Universities should have a subscription, so check with them before you sign up.

Coursera: Peking University Courses

Looking for an online course to help you prepare for an upcoming HSK exam? Look no further than Coursera, a platform providing many courses covering a variety of topics.

Peking University offers several brilliantly detailed and organised courses for a variety of different HSK levels. Split into several 10 minute videos targeting listening and reading skills, each week has a manageable work load for you to fit into your daily life.

HSK 3:

HSK 4:

HSK 5:

Chinese Ear Gym

Whilst HSK exams can be tricky, they do not need to be! A huge part of passing these exams comes down to whether you know your vocab or not. A great way to get your ear in tune for the HSK 4 exam is with the podcast Chinese Ear Gym. Available on Spotify, host Zhini Zeng talks through 10 characters at a time and gives examples of sentences in which they might appear.


Having discovered this during lockdown, it was useful to have some native Mandarin speakers with whom I could practise. Tandem is a language exchange platform, available in app and web app format. Begin chatting with language learners from all over the world, depending on where you search for, and soon enough you will find yourself deep in conversation with a new pen pal!

Given there is a lot of freedom on this app to chat with whoever you want, it is a great way to make friends if you ever plan to travel and practice your language. Be warned, however, as you might find yourself bombarded with messages within minutes of opening an account – I certainly did!

Chinese Whispers

Hosted by The Spectator’s Broadcast Editor, Cindy Yu, Chinese Whispers is a brilliantly accessible podcast for anyone interested in the China of today. Focussing on a different topic each week that has recently reached the news, Cindy interviews specialists and professors, gaining different perspectives on current and interesting Chinese Affairs.

I absolutely love how much she breaks down the issues into digestible and simple terms. From reviewing the history of China, to discussing why the Chinese like to drink so much, it is a brilliant and informative podcast that all students working towards a Chinese-related degree should access.

Chinese Whispers is available on the Spectator website as well as on all the usual podcast providers.


About the Author

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Barbara Dawson

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Lovely tasty dish. Try it you won’t be disappointed.

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Aunty Liz

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Very tasty and cheap. I often have this for tea!

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Such an interesting article!

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