Here’s a list of popular, educational Chinese apps for children that we use, have tried in the past, or have been recommended by friends. This list includes Chinese audiobooks and music apps, math, science, and writing, as well as dictionaries.
Based on my experience and knowledge as a pediatrician, I will also share my professional advice about using apps to learn Chinese language.
Chinese apps for children: health considerations
Each Chinese app is supplemental and not a primary means of learning Mandarin Chinese.
Compared to real-life experiences and hands-on activities/games, Chinese apps are not as effective for expanding vocabulary in young children.
However, the Chinese apps can serve as additional sources of language exposure, especially for non-fluent families in a monolingual community.
Can my baby learn from Chinese apps?
Infants and young children learn best from person-to-person interaction. Please do not use screen-time for infants as language teaching tool.
With the exception of video chatting with relatives, the American Academy of Pediatrics generally recommends no screen-time for children under age 2.
Downsides of using apps for Chinese learning
As a pediatrician, I advise limiting screen time for health reasons. In my practice, I have seen numerous children who have used their iPad excessively. The consequences include negative effects on behavior, attention span, hands-on exploration, physical activity, obesity, vision, and sleep.
These adverse findings have been demonstrated by research.
To learn more about the effects of media on children, this TEDx video by Dr. Dimitri Christakis is very informative.
HealthyChildren.org also has research-based advice about children’s health, including screen-time guidelines.
Parent review of Chinese apps recommended
In order to determine whether the Chinese apps are appropriate and safe for your children, please try the apps prior to showing them to your children.
Be cautious about inappropriate ads and commercials…
Using educational Chinese apps while limiting screen-time
Parents who prefer to avoid screen time, listen to stories on your phone while turning your phone upside-down, effectively just using the audio.
For families who wish to use apps, consider setting a timer and set clear expectations with your child prior to use.
In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has 10 tips to protect eyes during screen time.
Our experience with Chinese apps for kids
Of these apps, Ximalaya and various Chinese dictionaries are the only apps that we use regularly.
Educational Chinese apps for kids
The titles here are linked to iTunes and Google Play so that you can preview the app. Some of these apps may not work with certain mobile devices, depending on the version of the operating system.
*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 Writer by trainChinese: iTunes | Google Play
- Skritter: iTunes | Google Play
- Kids Write Chinese: iTunes
- 2Kids 学汉字 – 儿童快乐识字的早教认字游戏APP: iTunes
Chinese math apps for children
- 2Kids Math: iTunes
- 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
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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!
If you know of other educational Chinese resources for children, please leave a comment so we all can check it out!
How to teach kids Chinese
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent
- 15 Ways to Get Your Child to Read Throughout the Day