HOW TO Learn Chinese OUTSIDE Of China || 8 Steps to Success

An 8 Step Guide to Learning Chinese OUTSIDE of China

Looking to learn Chinese from outside China? Here are 8 easy ways to practise your Chinese skills, no matter where you are in the world.

DISCLAIMER | There’s no doubt that the best place to learn Chinese is in China. We provide courses all over China and further afield in Singapore if you ever wish to join us 😎

When you immerse yourself in a Chinese-speaking environment, it’s much easier to pick up new words, sentence patterns and the right pronunciation — even when you’re not actively studying.  

But that’s not to say you have to live in or go to China to improve. 

In fact, you can reach or maintain a high Chinese level outside the country. It just takes a bit of hard work and determination. 

In this article, we explore eight ways you can practice and improve your Chinese when you’re not in China. Oh, and most of them are free!

Practice Method #1 || Watch a Netflix Series

Practice Method #2 || Find a Language Group

Practice Method #3 || Use Social Media

Practice Method #4 || Listen to Podcasts

Practice Method #5 || Use Quizlet

Practice Method #6 || Read, Read and Read Some More

Practice Method #7 || Set Measurable Goals

Practice Method #8 || Find a Teacher

BONUS || Use Flexi Classes

Frequently Asked Questions

Practice your Chinese anywhere with Flexi Classes – Read on to find out more

Learning Chinese Outside of China || Watch Netflix

Netflix has a great selection of Chinese shows, and they’re a brilliant way to improve your listening skills, pronunciation and grammar while doing something you enjoy. 

You can choose to watch shows with English or Chinese subtitles (or both)… or if you’re feeling brave, go without any at all! 

But before you start, note that simply watching TV isn’t enough to absorb the language and tick studying off your to-do list for the day (if only it were that easy).

For best results, leave time to actively watch it and take note of the new words and phrases you hear. 

That means pausing, rewinding and rewatching parts to make sure the new knowledge goes in. 

We didn’t say it’s relaxing! 

Find a Language Group

DID YOU KNOW | More than 50 million Chinese people live overseas? 

That’s good news if you want to improve your language skills at home.

No matter where you are, you probably won’t need to look far for a community of Chinese speakers. 

There’s no better way to learn Chinese than by using the language, and this is even more important when you’re not surrounded by it all day, every day.

LTL Singapore Staff

Try searching for groups on MeetUp or Facebook, or ask a local language school if they run or know of any conversation clubs near you. 

This isn’t only a great way to keep your language skills up, but it’s also useful for keeping in touch with cultural news and trends in China. 

Learning Chinese Outside of China || Social Media

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: social media is great for learning Chinese. 

There are so many brilliant accounts on Instagram that focus on teaching the language in different ways. Lessons are often short and super easy to consume (and get addicted to). 

So, whatever your learning style or your level, you’re sure to find something that works for you. 

Fun facts about social media in China

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite Chinese Instagram accounts for you to check out.

Go take a look and tell us which ones you like best!

The same goes for Chinese social media.

If you’ve got an account on platforms like Weibo or Bilibili, try watching videos or reading articles as part of your study routine. 

It’s good for both seeing the language in action and keeping up with trends and current events.

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Learning Chinese Outside of China || Podcasts

If you struggle to find time to study Chinese, then podcasts are your answer. 

Listen to them on your commute, at the gym, when you’re walking into town… basically any time you can’t safely read or write. 

The best thing about listening to podcasts is that you can hear the language in use. This is especially useful for mastering Chinese pronunciation and nailing your tones without needing to memorise them.

Tones in Mandarin - How To Say Them

Again, there are loads of creators on YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok teaching different content in an abundance of ways.

You can find creators based on HSK levels, general conversations or even current hot topics.  

In other words, you’re bound to find one you like.

No excuses any more! 

Learning Chinese Outside of China || Use Quizlet

Learning vocab is a tedious process when you can’t just absorb the new words around you. 

But this free flashcard app makes it more enjoyable by gamifying word lists.

Lex the Lion

Simply create an account, create a set of flashcards and start practising. 

If you’re studying for a HSK exam, you don’t even need to create the lists. Flashcard sets are available for you to use from levels 1 through to 6. 

Use these lists to study from, and when you’re ready, you can test your knowledge with the app’s test function.

You’ll receive a score at the end of each round, and you can keep going until you’ve mastered the list. 

You can even create classes and add other users, which is great if you’ve got study buddies to learn with.

BONUS | We reviewed Quizlet (and a similar app Anki) in more depth here.

Learning Chinese Outside of China || Read, Read, Read

Lex the Lion

Even if you’re more interested in speaking fluently than reading well, reading is a valuable skill that can indirectly improve your speaking. 

That’s because it gives you time to analyse and internalise correct sentence structures — unlike when you’re scrambling to keep up with a listening task.

The most important thing to note here is that you should read something you enjoy.

Reading in a foreign language takes a lot of concentration, so the text needs to engage you. Else you’ll quickly lose focus and stop taking it in. 

TOP TIP | Read material that’s just below your level. 

It might sound counterintuitive, but easier texts are easier to follow, focus on and read fluently. 

You may come across one or two characters you don’t recognise, but looking these up won’t demotivate you like having to check every other word you read. 

The more you train your brain to read hanzi, the easier it gets.

So, start steady and step up the difficulty level as you go!

Set Measurable Goals

Like anything, if you want to make real progress in Chinese, you should set a goal. 

Whether your ultimate aim is to become fluent, pass a certain HSK exam or finish a book, try creating a structured learning plan and defining milestones to meet on your way. 

This makes the process a lot less overwhelming, and it gives you a chance to recognise your achievements along the way. 

Plus, it will keep you on track when things get busy, you hit a language learning lull, or you feel like giving up.

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Find A Teacher

One of the best ways to create and stick to a learning plan is, of course, to find a teacher. 

If you decide this is the route you want to take, LTL is here to help.

BONUS || Flexi Classes

We provide 24/7, live language learning with Flexi Classes and they are hugely popular with our students.

We offer a range of courses, both on and offline, that can help you achieve your goals and that fit your schedule. 

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t use any of these resources in isolation.

This is an 8 step guide to success! 

We’re sorry to say you won’t become a fluent Chinese speaker just by watching Netflix or tuning into a podcast each day!

But if you choose a few of these tools and integrate them into your daily or weekly routine, you’ll continue seeing progress long after you’ve left China. 

DID YOU KNOW | They say it takes around 66 days for a new habit to become automatic — so keep it up!

Are you learning Chinese outside China? How do you like to practise your skills? Tell us in the comments below.

Practice Chinese Outside of China || FAQ’s

How many Chinese speakers are there overseas?

DID YOU KNOW | More than 50 million Chinese people live overseas?

That means there is ample opportunity to find someone to practice with, no matter where you are in the world

Should I read Mandarin when learning?

Even if you’re more interested in speaking fluently than reading well, reading is a valuable skill that can indirectly improve your speaking. 

That’s because it gives you time to analyse and internalise correct sentence structures — unlike when you’re scrambling to keep up with a listening task.

The most important thing to note here is that you should read something you enjoy.

Reading in a foreign language takes a lot of concentration, so the text needs to engage you. Else you’ll quickly lose focus and stop taking it in. 

TOP TIP | Read material that’s just below your level. 

What is the most effective way to learn Chinese outside of China?

Finding a teacher online who is a native is a great way to boost your Mandarin.

If you decide this is the route you want to take, LTL is here to help.

We provide 24/7, live language learning with Flexi Classes and they are hugely popular with our students.

We offer a range of courses, both on and offline, that can help you achieve your goals and that fit your schedule. 

What is a good app to learn Mandarin vocabulary?

Learning vocab is a tedious process when you can’t just absorb the new words around you. 

Anki and Quizlet are two great options.

Simply create an account and start practising. 

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  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Singapore!

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