Chinese Starter Kit

Everything you need to start learning Mandarin Chinese. All on one page. What are you waiting for?



Learning pinyin is absolutely the first step any learner needs to take in learning Mandarin Chinese. Learn it once, and learn it well. We're linking to AllSet Learning's free Chinese Pronunciation Wiki here.

What is Pinyin?

You better be clear on what pinyin is (and what it is NOT), because you need to learn it.

Pinyin Quick Start Guide
Learn the Syllables

Each syllable of Chinese written in pinyin has a structure. You need to know this!

Pinyin Chart
Pinyin Chart

All the sounds of Mandarin Chinese can fit on a chart. Master it, and Chinese is yours.


Tones are the part of learning Chinese that everyone loves to hate. But there's no getting around them.


Learn the Four Tones

You need to know the rough rise/fall of each tone, the tone number, and the tone mark (used in pinyin). This relates to every single Chinese word you'll learn from now until forever! Tones are a long-term project. Time to get started!


You don't need apps to learn Chinese, but they can definitely be useful! Pleco is the best dictionary for beginners and advanced learners alike.

Android / iOS
  • #1 Dictionary app for Chinese
Android / iOS
  • The famous DuoLingo
Android / iOS
  • DuoLingo-like gamification
Android / iOS
  • DuoLingo-like gamification


We'll be adding to this section later. Here's a video about Chinese grammar:

Need Help with Chinese Word Order?

You may have heard before that Chinese word order is basically the same as English word order. But is it really? Well... no. This video gives you some simple examples so you know what to expect as a beginner without getting into the weeds of Chinese grammar.


Sometimes having a solid paper-based book in your hands really helps you learn. These are the best textbooks for beginners.

Not everyone needs to take the HSK, but if you do, this is the book.

Simple explanations of grammar with great, practical examples.

A popular textbook used in Chinese programs across the USA.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should absolutely learn Chinese characters! But learn this other stuff first. Don't jump into characters until your pinyin is rock solid, you kinda get the tones, etc.

Keep at it. It takes time. Memorizing the tones for the words you know will help, because every time you hear a word you know, you know what tone you're hearing as well, which reinforces it.

Join the club! No, seriously, "perfect" tones are a long-term project. It doesn't happen overnight. You're gonna have to settle for slow, gradual progress.

Yes, of course! Get out there and talk as much as you can. Go to mainland China. Go to Taiwan. Talk, talk, talk. But when you can't talk, spend time to learn all of this stuff well.

Mandarin Chinese. Spoken in most of China, most of Taiwan.


Need more help? Check out AllSet Learning!

We feel we've covered all the essential links above, but here are a few more links that might be helpful.

This website and a lot of the free, excellent content linked to on this page is provided by the team at AllSet Learning based in Shanghai, China. For more help learning Chinese, please let us help you!