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12 Best Textbooks to Learn Mandarin Chinese for Beginners in 2024

12 Best Textbooks to Learn Mandarin Chinese for Beginners in 2024

    Rather than an alphabet, Chinese has thousands of characters. On top of that, the language is tonal, how you speak a word can completely change its meaning. So learning Mandarin Chinese is a very long and arduous journey. Many people like learning with Chinese through online courses. But In my opinion, for something as complex as learning Mandarin Chinese, textbook is a necessary resource which can help by providing a structured curriculum that allows you to progress in a linear manner. Plus, the authenticity and effectiveness that books offer are unparalleled. With so many Chinese textbooks to choose from on the market, finding one that fits your needs can be a challenge. In this article, I will share 12 best Chinese textbooks for learning Mandarin Chinese for beginners. Whether you are helping your child study Mandarin, or are an adult learner learning a few basic phrases before a business trip, these textbooks are suitable for your needs.

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1. New Practical Chinese Reader Vol.1 - Textbook

(Price: $38.88 + up to 2% cashback at

Published by Beijing Language & Culture University Press, this series comes with the choice of traditional or simplified Chinese character versions. This series of 6 textbooks will be your companion from beginner through intermediate.You get to learn the language structure, practice with conversation pieces and get a peek into Chinese culture. The lessons are focused on conversations with sufficient information regarding grammar, writing and idioms.


This series of books are one of the most popular among students learning Chinese for increasing reading ability. This superb collection, which has been revised many times, leads you through various phases of Chinese language learning from beginner through to intermediary level. It contains excellent layout and explanations. These are great aids to understanding grammar structures and basic to more advanced everyday vocabulary.

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2.  Integrated Chinese

(Price: $19.19 + up to 5% cashback at

Integrated Chinese (3rd Edition) is a textbook written by Yuehua Liu and published by Cheng & Tsui. This must-have Chinese textbook is the leading introductory Chinese textbook at colleges and universities all around the world. Fully updated to meet the needs of today’s modern student, this book has communicative and interactive exercises, up-to-date vocabulary, and enhanced cultural coverage.


With a diverse cast of characters and a realistic storyline, this book will help you stay engaged while learning new material. It’s perfect for students just starting out in Chinese, getting used to Chinese characters, how they’re written, and how to use them, and anyone preparing to stay in China (or any other Chinese-speaking country) for an extended period of time who needs to familiarise themselves with the basics of the language.

3. Chinese Made Easier

(Price: from $25.52 + up to 5% cashback at

Chinese Made Easier, as the name suggests, is a book containing basic phrases and words that are often used in basic conversation. There are five books in this series. Topics include  the basic words and sentences used in self-introductions, time, dates, directions, transportation and dining out. It also has activity sheets at the end to test what the reader has learned.


This textbook is one of the better resources for students who’ve just started learning Chinese. It focuses on using Chinese rather than studying it academically and will get you conversing in Chinese more quickly than some of the other textbooks in this list.

4. Get Talking Chinese: Mandarin Chinese for Beginners

(Price: from $14.07 + up to 2% cashback at

This easy-to-use Chinese for beginners textbook and audio app includes all the essential everyday words and phrases. You can learn how to read, write and speak Chinese step by step with this Mandarin learning book. The Content is suitable for beginners of all ages and covers basic grammar, tones, Pinyin and characters. The accompanying audio app covers all the words and phrases taught in the book.


This textbook Bold illustrations and photos bring the text to life, and make the process of learning Mandarin fun and accessible. It will help you get to grips with more than 200 of the most frequently used Chinese characters. From introducing yourself in Chinese and chatting about the weather to reading and writing numbers, Easy Peasy Chinese includes all the vocabulary you'll need to get by in China.The culture pages provide light relief from the language sections and cover such wide-ranging topics as etiquette, slang and the Chinese zodiac. It's perfect for children ages 8 and up, as well as beginners of all ages.

5. 2000 Most Common Chinese Words in Context

(Price: $18.74 + up to 5% cashback at

The first time someone goes through this book, they might think of it as a travel guide. However, it is one of the most practical and easy-to-understand books to learn Mandarin Chinese. It is perfect for beginners or travelers who want to get around the country without a language barrier. 


This textbooks compiled the 2000 Most Common Words in Chinese, a list of terms that will expand your vocabulary to levels previously unseen.  In this, you’ll find tips on how to improve your learning, 2,000 of the most common words and their translations, an example sentence for each word in both Chinese and English, and a final list of tips at the end. 

6. Easy Steps to Chinese for Kids

(Price: $14.95 at

Easy Steps to Chinese for Kids is a series of Chinese textbooks specifically designed for kids from non-Chinese backgrounds. It covers four levels, each of which is made up of two volumes: a and b (each with a CD). Fun and effective, this excellent textbook series adopts an exciting new approach to teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Each lesson has a song using all the new words and sentence structures. The emphasis is on communications skills such as listening and speaking, though recognizing and writing characters are also introduced.


A best-seller in its category on Amazon, this color-book series aims to help children who are total beginners, especially those who are not heritage learners, to build a solid foundation for learning Chinese as a foreign language.

7. Mandarin Chinese for Beginners : Learning Conversational Chinese

(Price: $17.16 + up to 5% cashback at

Mandarin Chinese for Beginners : Learning Conversational Chinese is a user-friendly guide to the basics that will help you learn Chinese quickly and easily. This 208 page book is broken down into 16 chapters: introducing yourself, business phrases, restaurant phrases, and so on. You learn with sample dialogues, plenty of exercises, and the good news is… there’s also pinyin (romanizations).


This book is designed for everyone who wants to learn to speak and understand colloquial Chinese—whether it is for business, pleasure, or travel to China. A lighthearted guide that brings Chinese to life in a down-to-earth fashion, Mandarin Chinese for Beginners makes language learning fun.

8. The First 100 Chinese Characters

(Price: $17.16 + up to 5% cashback at

The First 100 Chinese Characters adopts a structural approach which helps students to quickly master the basic characters that are fundamental to this language. This is a wonderful resource for self-learning Chinese character writing. Each and every character strokes are depicted very clearly. A great resource to understand the character radicals. The English meanings, pronunciations in hanyu pinyin and alternate forms (if any) for each Chinese character are presented along with a stroke order guide and spaces for writing practice.


Printed with gray guidelines, the stroke order guides are designed to be traced over to teach students the standard sequence of strokes used to write the character. Related compounds and phrases are given to assist in vocabulary building. Three indexes at the back allow the characters to be looked up by their English meanings, hanyu pinyin pronunciations, or radicals. Extra practice sheets are also provided.

9. Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners

(Price: $60.35+ up to 5%

Specially written by experienced teachers for self-study or class use, this textbook offers a step-by-step approach to written and spoken Chinese. It focuses on helping learners build a vocabulary and phrase bank of the most common and basic words. With this book, you’ll learn around 600 basic Chinese characters, how they are used in a sentence and character pronunciation using pinyin.


What sets this book apart, however, is that rather than just focus on getting you prepared for a week-long trip, most of the words are centered on daily conversation.  This means that it also incorporates interesting little tidbits about modern slang terms in Mandarin.

10. Practical Audio-Visual Chinese

(Price: $23.79 + up to 4.6% cashback at

Used by the National Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Training Center, these textbooks take beginners through Chinese basics using the Taiwanese style of Mandarin education, beginning with the bopomofo phonetic system and using traditional characters.


The advantage of using this book is that you’ll understand all the vocabulary in-depth. You’ll know how each character can be used in a sentence.The best part is that you can use all the characters introduced here in your everyday life. Thus, it lived up to its title as “practical.” My friend in Taiwan swears by this series and he used this at his language school when he studied in Taiwan.

11. HSK Standard Course 1

(Price: $20.77 + up to 2% cashback at

If you haven’t heard about HSK, it’s about time. Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is the official Chinese level system that is being used by the Chinese government.Authorized by Hanban, HSK Standard Course is developed under the joint efforts of Beijing Language and Culture University Press and Chinese Testing International (CTI). With HSK test papers as its primary source, HSK Standard Course is characterized by a humorous style, familiar topics and a scientific course design.


Matching the HSK test in all aspects, from the content, form to the levels, it is a series of new-type course books embodying the idea of ""combining testing and teaching, and promoting learning and teaching by testing"". It is suitable for the Confucius Institutes in different countries as well as other Chinese teaching institutions and self-taught learners.The HSK 1 is the first and easiest test level, and using this Chinese language textbook will help you begin your HSK journey quickly.

12. Reading and Writing Chinese

(Price: $16.33 + up to 3% cashback at

Understanding the characters is potentially the most important way to learn Chinese. This textbooks  is the easiest, best, and most precise book that I’ve come across for learning characters.  Reading & Writing Chinese places at your fingertips the essential 1,725 Chinese characters’ current definitions, derivations, pronunciations, and examples of correct usage by utilizing cleverly condensed grids.


Used as a standard by students and teachers learning to read Chinese and write Chinese for more than three decades, the bestselling Reading & Writing Chinese  has been thoroughly revised and updated. It only features the Chinese characters you will face in most normal situations. The book will also give you a background story of each character, which is brilliant to memorize them quickly.

2023-02-02 22:15228