Where to Start Learning Chinese Characters

As a relatively new blogger, I admit that I have a bit of an obsession with checking Google Analytics. So far today, 165 new people have visited our site. I call it “our site” because it would not exist if not for you, a lovely reader on a similar Mandarin journey.

Through Google’s willingness to share information with me, I have learned that many of you are very interested in the free Writing Practice Sheets available here. It stands to reason then that most of you are not merely interested in learning to “speak” Chinese. You also want to learn the characters.

My friends call me the “Jedi Master” of freebies. Before sinking all my time into Chinese, I was one of those “extreme couponer” types. While I have left that lifestyle behind, I have maintained the mentality. I love it when I find something useful that is free. Chinese.For Us fits that bill.

While Chinese.For Us’s primary goal is to get you to purchase a membership to their website, they deserve accolades for providing us with a YouTube channel that is actually useful.

If you have just begun learning Chinese Characters, Chinese.For Us has just the playlist for you.  Their 19-part video series is jam-packed with enough information to give you a solid foundation as you begin your Character journey.  Check out the first video in the series below:


If you then plan to invest in learning characters, I highly recommend Remembr.It.  I am not their affiliate.  Its learning system is just the best one I have ever encountered. Its plan prices are comparable to Netflix.

As far as paid apps, I recommend Zizzle, with whom I am not affiliated.  But, what if funds are tight?  Didn’t I say I like “free?”


Flashcards are among the most effective tools to help language learners retain new information.

As I have said before, Anki is not your grandma’s flashcard app. As you study, it learns how well you know the information and then prioritizes it accordingly. Gone are the days of wasting time focusing on things you have already mastered.

New to Anki? Get the desktop and the phone apps here.  I’m not affiliated with Anki; I just love them.

The praises I can sing for Anki are endless. The desktop and Android versions are free. The iPhone Anki app is a bit pricy at a flat $24.99 but well worth the investment if you are an Apple fan. The best part is that free Anki decks are readily available. In fact, we have the famous multi-deck course, Mastering Chinese Characters, available here on MandainMania.com.  

Since many of you are interested in writing as well, I want to share this deck I recently discovered. It boasts 3000 Most Common Chinese Characters. It not only has audio and radicals; it has so much more, including stroke order animation.  Download it here now or later on our shared Anki Decks page.  

If 3000 characters are a bit too much for you, you may want to give 800 a try.  This deck, another of my recent discoveries, has audio for each character. Every card features stroke order and a sample sentence that includes pinyin and English.  Download the 800 Basic Chinese Characters deck now or later on our shared Anki decks page.


Don’t agonize by treating each character independently. Break characters down into their constituent parts. You will quickly see that the radicals repeat again and again across characters. Soon you will be able to recognize parts of characters as quickly as you would a simple English word.

Need help getting started with Radicals?  Check out our dedicated Radicals page. There you will find a chart complete with audio, radical numbers, pinyin and English. There are also free radical writing sheets available, an Anki deck and two videos by other creators that I find very informative.  

Did you know?  All of our HSK Vocabulary Word pages have stroke order pictures.

Let us know in the comments below what character study methods you have found useful, especially if you have found any that are free of charge.

Please also consider sharing this post on the social media sites you participate in using the sharing buttons below. Doing so will help our community grow, and no doubt, help the freebies keep flowing our way.

As always, take care! 保重 Bǎozhòng!

This post may contain affiliate links.

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