6 Clever Ways to Use ChatGPT to Learn Chinese

September 09, 2023

AI has taken some giant steps forward recently, providing us with some incredible opportunities to improve our language learning workflow. In this article, we will explore how to accelerate our Chinese learning by taking advantage of the ludicrously useful ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI language model created by OpenAI. It generates human-like text responses based on prompts we provide it with. Thankfully for us, it’s fully functional in Chinese as well as English (and an abundance of other languages). It is able to understand, respond, and perform tasks for humans with remarkable efficiency.

How Can ChatGPT Help Improve Your Chinese?

ChatGPT offers several features that revolutionize the language learning process:

1. Language Support: ChatGPT can help you expand your vocabulary, sharpen your writing/grammar skills, and generate engaging reading content, all at jaw-droppingly fast speeds.

2. Translations: You can ask ChatGPT to translate texts. Translations can be provided in simplified or traditional script, as well as pinyin.

3. Audio Support: ChatGPT is primarily text-based, so you’ll need to make use of a third-party text-to-speech app or website to generate audio based on the text it generates. One super useful platform you could consider for this purpose is Lingq.

How to Use ChatGPT to Learn Chinese

Let's look at some practical ways to use ChatGPT for Chinese language learning, along with some example prompts. Remember, it’s always a good idea to get specific with your prompts - the more specific and detailed your prompt is, the more likely it is that the response will be useful for you.

1. Generate Chinese Texts for Reading Practice:

We all know the difficulty in finding reading content that’s both relevant to our interests and appropriate for our reading level - those HSK textbooks can get pretty dull! One of ChatGPT’s great advantages is that it can generate texts tailored to our specific proficiency levels, such as HSK levels, while also creating content based on our individual interests. It can also be used to summarize more advanced content, such as news articles, in a way that’s readable for elementary or intermediate learners.

Example prompt: "Write a paragraph in Chinese, suitable for an HSK 5 student, about the history of The Bund in Shanghai. Include both simplified characters and pinyin."

2. Use ChatGPT as a Live Dictionary for Vocabulary Learning:

ChatGPT can instantly provide you with translations, expanding your vocabulary and helping you with your reading.

Example prompt: "Translate the following English words into Chinese: potatoes, onions, tomatoes."

3. Ask ChatGPT to Explain Confusing Grammar Points:

Here at Culture Yard, we know that Chinese grammar can be bewildering at times, given how different it is from English. Luckily for us, ChatGPT can break down complex Chinese grammar concepts into understandable and succinct explanations, helping us grasp tricky grammar points.

Example prompt: "Can you tell me how to use '了' and '过' when talking about things that happened in the past in Chinese? Give examples of how both of them are used in everyday contexts, and provide explanations for each example.”

4. Create Vocabulary and Grammar Practice Exercises:

ChatGPT can provide you with gap-fill and other types of exercises if you want to practice using new vocabulary and grammar in a controlled way. Again, customizability here is limitless.

Example prompt: "Create a gap-fill exercise in Chinese based on a typical dialogue between a customer and staff member in a printing shop. Use the following words: 复印 (photocopy), 打印 (print), 格式 (format), 尺寸 (size), 色彩 (color), 页码 (page number), 折页 (folding), 装订 (binding)."

5. Practice Speaking Chinese with ChatGPT:

ChatGPT can be your conversation partner, enabling you to practice speaking Chinese on your own and participate in role plays. It generates responses based on your prompts, allowing you to engage in natural dialogues on whatever topic you like. This can be especially useful for building confidence in learners who are hesitant to practice speaking with native speakers.

Example prompt: "Let's have a conversation in Chinese about my favorite hobbies."

6. Get Chinese Writing Prompts and Feedback:

ChatGPT can provide prompts if you’re looking for inspiration for a subject matter to write about. After you write a response, you can ask for feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Example prompt: "Give me a writing prompt on the topic of 'family' in Chinese."

The Pros of Using ChatGPT for Learning Chinese

Customizability: ChatGPT can create reading content based on your individual interests, and participate in dialogues based on whatever topics or scenarios you’d like to practice with. This makes it far more engaging and individualized than a regular textbook.

Accessibility: ChatGPT is available 24/7 for free, allowing you to learn and practice Chinese whenever it's convenient for you.

Instant Responses: You receive instant feedback and information, which accelerates your learning process.

The Cons of Using ChatGPT for Learning Chinese

Lack of Human Interaction: While ChatGPT is a valuable tool, it cannot fully replace the guidance and personalized feedback provided by taking Chinese classes with experienced Chinese teachers.

Limitations in Naturalness: Conversations with ChatGPT can sometimes feel a little odd, occasionally lacking the natural flow of human-to-human conversation.


In decades gone by, finding resources for language learning was an arduous process. Learners spent hours at a time scouring dusty library shelves for Chinese books, in the hope that one or two might have a glossary at the back. Then came innovations like MP3, the internet, translation software, text-to-speech, and now here we are. ChatGPT has transformed the language learning landscape and made our lives a whole lot easier. The ability to add ChatGPT to our arsenal of resources makes today the best time ever to learn Chinese.

About the Author

David Lee is a Mandarin enthusiast and hotpot fiend hailing from Ireland.