Chinese Language

This guide points you to some of the Library's main resources that will support the Chinese (Mandarin) language classes on campus. It focuses on resources to help learn Chinese, as well as resources that are IN Chinese.

NOTE: Print books can be requested through the Library's Curbside Pickup and Mail Delivery service

Language Dictionaries

Books in our Collection:

Free Sites or Apps:

  • WordReference.com: has Chinese-English/English-Chinese dictionary as well as a language forum so you can ask questions and get answers
  • MDBG - look up words in English, pinyin, or characters. Can input by typing or enable handwriting tool. Both simplified & traditional Chinese supported. Can listen to pronunciation
  • Ninchanese - look up words in English, pinyin, or characters.
  • Pleco - app for Android & iOS (free, but with in-app purchases)
  • Check out some more reviews & recommendations for free online dictionaries here and here

Grammars 

General

Reading Books in Chinese:

Books in our collection:

  • Advanced reader of contemporary Chinese short stories: Reflections on humanity - English and Chinese characters in parallel text. Includes vocabulary lists, grammar and usage examples, and questions for discussion.
  • The lady in the painting: A basic Chinese reader - intermediate level, each chapter includes extensive vocabulary and notes on the language used in the chapter
  • Routledge intermediate Chinese reader - 40 readings of different types of modern texts. Vocabulary is annotated next to text, includes short grammar explanations and notes on culture and idioms.
  • Searching Omni:
    • You can use the advanced search in Omni to look for a particular author or title. Optionally, you can limit the language choice to Chinese (but the language limit is not always accurate: you may find that you still get translations of works into English)
      advanced Omni search screen for an author, limited to language = Chinese
    • You can also search Omni using Chinese characters, for example:
      showing an example of a search in Omni using Chinese characters

Other Chinese e-book sites:

 

Difference between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese characters

Where each type is mainly used:
Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese
  • Mainland China
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau

Books in our Collection

Other Resources

  • Arch Chinese - features include: animated tool showing how to write each character, worksheets, pre-made vocabulary lists. NOTE: while much content is free, they do have paid premium content
  • Learn Chinese with Litao - Checkout his Learn Chinese Characters playlist
  • Yellowbridge - this online dictionary has many features to help with learning Chinese characters including animated stroke order rules, memory games (tied to many popular textbooks

Scholarly journal articles

  • Omni: our easy-to-use search tool, right on the Library home page. You can limit results by language  OR
  • You can search some of our other recommended databases: 

News & Magazine Sources

We subscribe to a number of databases that have the full text of magazines, newspapers, and  and other news sources from around the world

  • Factiva full text news from around the world. Some important notes for finding material in Chinese
    • To find the most resources you need to search using Chinese characters. If you search using English words results are more limited because only extra information such as subject terms are in English. The full text of the news items are in Chinese
    • Note that the default date limit is "in the last 3 months", so change as needed
    • You can choose one or more specific sources to search, example:
      Screenshot showing search in Factiva using Chinese(simplified) characters
    • OR You can choose to search news sources from one or more cities, countries, or regions. Either type in a city/region or choose using the geographic options:
    • Very important: Remove the default language= English and add language = either Chinese- simplified or Chinese- traditional
      Screenshot showing options for searching news sources from one or more geographic regions
  • Nexis Uni - To find the most resources you need to search using Chinese characters. If you search using English words results are more limited because only extra information such as subject terms are in English. The full text of the news items are in Chinese. You can then filter results to specific regions or specific sources. All dates are included by default
  • Press Reader - access over 5000 newspapers and magazines from over 100 countries. 90 day backfile only. Language or country can be selected from the menu on the left, and then subcategories by topic. There are almost 300 titles in Chinese (majority are in Simplified)
    Screenshot of some of the Chinese (simplified) language publications in PressReader
  • BBC News in Chinese
  • The Chairman's Bao - specifically for language learners,has graded news stories based on HSK level. NOTE: limited free content, they have paid Premium content. Can read in simplified or traditional, with or without pinyin, you can adjust size and spacing between words and you can listen to the article being read and follow along.

Our Collection:

  • Do a Keyword search in Omni for a specific title or by topic.
  • Once you get your results, limit the "Resource Type" to "videos" . (NOTE: you will probably have to click on the "Show More"  to see the video options)
  • Limit the language to Chinese
  • If you only want to see videos available via online streaming, limit the "Availability" to "Available online"
  • You can request physical DVDs through our  Curbside Pick-up service.
    Showing the Videos Resource Type filter, and the availability filter

 

  • We also have a few streaming video databases you can search:
    • Audio Cine - popular commercial films. Use the Filter option to find films that have Mandarin subtitles or Mandarin audio (just a few) 
    • Criterion on Demand - not many Chinese language films here, but if you click on the (small!) "Click here to activate all search menus" link you can search China as the country of origin.
    • Films on Demand
    • Kanopy - films not already part of our collection can be requested

Other Video Sources

  • YouTube: you can find a vast amount of free Mandarin language videos. Don't forget you can use the YouTube settings to slow down the speed. Some channels that might be of interest:
    • ChinesePod - have some channels for traditional, some for simplified. Can choose from 5 levels of lessons, and various themed playlists
    • Learn Chinese Now - playlists include basic Mandarin, grammar guides, and the hot words series that each focus on a single word
    • Mandarin Corner - variety of playlists, from very HSK level directed vocabulary, to the Walk Around videos that follow the host out walking around, street conversations etc. 
    • Yoyo Chinese - beginner and intermediate series of videos, plus grammar videos and their Chinese on the Street series of videos
  • YouKu: an all Chinese video streaming service. (If you use Chrome as your browser, you can set it to translate into English so you can explore the categories more easily)
  • Your favourite video streaming service, for example:
    • Netflix: just search "Chinese" and you'll get a large selection of TV shows and movies with audio in Mandarin. They mostly seem to have  only have  English subtitles though, no Mandarin subtitles
    • Prime Video: search "Chinese". You'll find some Chinese language shows/movies with English subtitles but may also find English language movies or shows that have been dubbed( i.e. Mandarin audio) with English and/or Mandarin subtitles. 

Listening to  music and following along with lyrics, can be a great way to improve your language skills, especially with pronunciation. Listening to audio podcasts is another way to get your ear familiar with rhythm, tone, flow of a language

General sources & Podcasts:

  • With so many podcasts out there, how to choose? Here is a list of 25 recommended podcasts with detailed descriptions to help you decide
  • Chinese Voices Project - recordings of young, native speaking Beijingers on variety of topics. Can make customized flashcards for vocabulary study, can listen and read along
  • Voice of America News podcasts in Chinese
  • Radio Taiwan International - for more advanced learners. When you select a specific news story, look for the headphone icon to listen to the audio. Note that the accompanying transcript will be in Chinese-traditional characters.
  • Ottawa Public Library: Mango Audio and text, each language course consists of 100 lessons. You must use your Ottawa Public library username and password to access Mango (anyone who lives in the city of Ottawa can get a free username and password, contact your local branch
    • The OPL has many other language learning resources: browse by going to their advanced search screen, search "Chinese" and limit Collections to "adult language learning"

Music & Lyrics:

  • MusicAcrossAsia - Mandarin - often have lyrics of songs in Mandarin, pinyin, and English, as well as articles on music topics
  • Chinese Music and Lyrics - for each song you can view the video, with English translation and Chinese lyrics in characters.
  • Youtube: keyword search a song, artist, or the word "Chinese"with the word "lyrics" to find lyric videos. Don't forget you can use the YouTube settings to slow down the speed. A couple of examples:

Curate your own playlist, or discover curated playlists of Chinese language music using your preferred way of listening to music, here are some examples:

 

Content last reviewed: September 7, 2020