The best Chinese apps for kids can be a convenient and affordable way to expose children to more Chinese language. Educational Chinese apps can be especially helpful if you live in an area with few native Chinese speakers.
This list includes the top Chinese apps with dictionaries, audiobooks, music, math, reading, and writing tools. I’ve compiled this list based on what our family uses plus recommendations from fluent Chinese-speaking friends.
How much time should my child use Chinese apps?
In general, children do not need apps for learning. If your family is learning Chinese without challenges, there’s no need to use Chinese apps. Families who prefer to avoid screen time can use apps for the audio while turning the phone face down or consider Luka Reading Robot.
For those looking for guidelines on using apps to supplement Chinese exposure, the American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends the following as a maximum cap:
- Under age 18 months: No screen-time except for video-chatting with relatives
- Age 18-24 months: Limited, high-quality screen-time together with caregivers to ensure understanding
- Age 2-5 years: Less than 1 hour per day together with caregivers to ensure understanding. Set a timer and clear expectations.
- 6 years and up: Designate a specific time limit in the daily or weekly routine. Talk to kids about how apps can negative affects on behavior, creativity, physical activity, weight, vision, and sleep.
With infants and young children, real-life experiences and hands-on activities/games are the best ways to expand vocabulary. Minimizing screen-time is necessary to protect their developing brains and attention span. If you don’t have access to a native Chinese speaker at this age, it’s okay to wait until they are old enough to handle screen-time.
To learn more about the effects of media on children:
- Watch this TEDx video by health expert Dr. Dimitri Christakis
- Read these 10 tips to protect eyes during screen time from the American Academy of Ophthalmology
How do I know which Chinese app is best for my kids?
Before showing them to your children, please try the Chinese apps are appropriate for your child’s age and language abilities. Remember that language learning starts with functional communication skills (listening and speaking), followed by learning to read and write.
Be cautious about inappropriate ads and commercials, and delete any unused apps on your iPad or Kindle fire to minimize clutter and confusion.
Best 20 Educational Chinese apps for kids
The titles here are linked to iTunes and Google Play so that you can preview the app.
*Denotes default language is English; Mandarin Chinese must be selected via Settings.
Chinese dictionary apps for kids and adults
- Pleco Chinese Dictionary: iTunes | Google Play
- Google Translate*: iTunes | Google Play
- TrainChinese: iTunes | Google Play
Chinese audiobooks & music apps for kids and adults
- More free and awesome Chinese stories apps in this post
Mandarin Chinese TV show and movie apps
- Youku 优酷视频-蒙面唱将: iTunes | Google Play
- Netflix: iTunes | Google Play
- Amazon Prime
- iQIYI 愛奇藝: iTunes | Google Play
- Viki: Asian Drama, Movies, & TV: iTunes | Google Play
Learn Chinese characters app
- iHuman 1200 Chinese characters 洪恩识字: iTunes | Google
- Gus on the Go – Gus Learns Mandarin for Kids: iTunes | Google Play
- Duolingo: iTunes | Google Play
Chinese writing apps for kids and adults
Chinese math apps for children
- Montessori Geometry – Recognize and learn shapes*: iTunes
- Count to 10: Learn Numbers with Montessori*: iTunes
- Montessori 1st Operations – Addition & subtraction*: iTunes | Google Play
- Montessori Numberland*: iTunes
- Montessori Math City*: iTunes
- Montessori Math: Add & Subtract Large Numbers*: iTunes
- Montessori Math: Multiplication*: iTunes | Google Play
Chinese culture app
Which Chinese app is your family’s favorite?
Which Chinese app do you use most often? Please share in the comments below so we can learn from your experience!
Other Chinese learning resources for kids
- Educational Chinese YouTube Channels
- Best Chinese books for children
- Popular Chinese music for children
- Fun, hands-on Chinese learning activities!
More tips on raising bilingual kids
- Transitioning from Dominant to Minority Language
- 7 Ways to Improve Communication Skills Through Play
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent