Brick by Brick: 5 Chinese Vocabulary Builders to Create a Strong Language Foundation (2024)

Brick by Brick: 5 Chinese Vocabulary Builders to Create a Strong Language Foundation (1)

By Brick by Brick: 5 Chinese Vocabulary Builders to Create a Strong Language Foundation (2)Em Casalena Last updated:

Vocabulary is the foundation of any language.

We can’t deny that understanding grammar, context and sentence structure is crucial in any language. But nothing is more important than vocabulary.

We created a great list for you to discover helpful Chinese vocabulary builder activities online.

But how exactly can these games help you reach your vocabulary goals?


  • Why Use a Chinese Vocabulary Builder?
  • Digital Dialects
  • FluentU
  • Chinese Vocabulary Builder
  • Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builder
  • Arch Chinese

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Why Use a Chinese Vocabulary Builder?

  • Chinese vocabulary builder activities help you memorize new or difficult vocabulary words. No matter what level of learner you are, there will always be a time when you run into a word that leaves you puzzled. This is just a result of learning a complex language! A vocabulary builder game, activity or video can broaden your vocabulary skills and familiarize you with difficult Chinese words.
  • Many of these Chinese vocabulary builders are simple and easy to use, making them excellent tools to add to your daily study plan. Amidst the courses and lessons and note-taking and practice, your Mandarin daily study plan probably gets a bit boring at times. Why not add in something different, like a vocabulary builder game, to spice things up?
  • Most of these activities are based on learning levels and HSK vocabulary words, so you know you’re learning the right vocabulary for your particular learning level. The HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) is made up of six different levels of Mandarin proficiency. Each test includes its own set of Mandarin vocabulary words that you’ll be quizzed on. If you want to prep for the HSK or just want to improve your vocabulary skills, many of these vocabulary builders are based on the HSK system.

Digital Dialects

This vocabulary game is just one of many Flash games for learning Mandarin from Digital Dialects.

Learners who love simplicity and prefer to play Chinese vocabulary builder games on their laptop rather than through a smartphone app will definitely enjoy this vocabulary game.

To play, simply locate the “vocabulary” section accompanied by a picture of a bicycle and click to begin playing. There are multiple game options to choose from, such as “pinyin with audio” or “Chinese characters without audio.” Select your preference to begin playing. Many of the vocabulary words in this game are very simple, so it would best suit beginner learners.

All of the Flash games from Digital Dialects are 100% free to play in-browser.

Example words from Digital Dialects:

  • 铅笔 (qiān bǐ)— pencil
  • 瓶 (píng)— bottle
  • 鸟 (niǎo)— bird
  • 小船 (xiǎo chuán)— boat
  • 花 (huā)— flower


FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Some vocabulary words from FluentU’s videos:

  • 现在 (xiànzài)— now, presently
  • 趁 (chèn)— to take advantage of
  • 在 (zài)— located at or existing in
  • 世界 (shìjiè)—the world
  • 没有 (méiyǒu)— have not

Chinese Vocabulary Builder

This in-browser Flash game from 101 Languages is designed specifically for beginners—but intermediate and advanced learners will appreciate the focus on hanzi and some of the more difficult vocabulary words. Beginners can definitely benefit from this Chinese vocabulary builder’s in-depth list of vocabulary words divvied up between dozens of categories.

It’s simple to play. Select a lesson from the list (you’ll have to enable Flash beforehand) and click on a specific English word. You’ll be shown the hanzi for the word along with an image. You can quiz yourself on the characters you’ve studied per category, as well.

Some example words from Chinese Vocabulary Builder:

  • 午安 (wǔān)— Good afternoon
  • 银行 (yín háng)— bank
  • 厂家 (chǎng jiā)— factory
  • 男朋友 (nán péngyǒu)— boyfriend
  • 儿子 (ēr zi)— son

Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builder

Visual learners know that just studying plain ol’ words definitely isn’t ideal. Luckily, there’s a Chinese vocabulary builder designed just for you!

This app from Microsoft is based on a unique learning method from the publisherJourist Verlags GmbH.

Not only does Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builder teach you vocabulary words, it also focuses on spoken phrases. If you’re trying to learn Chinese for a business trip or vacation in a Mandarin-speaking country, this app is worth checking out.

The game is simple to play and is more of a simple flashcard game than anything, but it’s packed with a lot of images to help you properly associate hanzi and pinyin with the correct definition. You can also select different categories and genres to fit your needs.

The only downside to this app is that you have to organically progress through the beginner flashcard levels in order to reach vocabulary words that would best suit intermediate and advanced learners. But there’s nothing wrong with brushing up on the easy stuff, right?

Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builders costs $9.99 in the Microsoft store, but we think the price of a burger and fries is definitely worth this handy app.

Sample words and phrases from Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builder:

  • 您能给我您的地址吗? (nín néng gěi wǒ nín dì dì zhǐ ma?)— May I have your address?
  • 黄瓜 (huáng guā)— cucumber
  • 恭喜!(gōng xǐ!)— Congratulations!
  • 当然 了! (dāng rán le!)— Of course!
  • 不是 (bùshì)— no

Arch Chinese

If you’re taking a traditional Chinese course, this vocabulary builder is definitely worth checking out. Not only is it great as a flashcard application and Chinese vocab matching game, but you can upload vocabulary lists that your Chinese professor may have sent you digitally for study.You can also manually look up Chinese vocab words that you need to memorize to build your own custom vocabulary builder games.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find some popular vocabulary lists used by learners around the world. To play the matching game, simply drag and drop the hanzi card into its respective pinyin or English translation card.

Some example words from Chinese Vocab Matching Game from Arch Chinese:

  • 小 (xiǎo)— small
  • 人 (rén)— man or person
  • 我 ()— I or me
  • 报纸 (bào zhǐ)— newspaper
  • 穿 (chuān)— to wear

Ready to kick your Mandarin vocab skills up a notch?We suggest giving all of these Chinese vocabulary builder resources a shot before settling on just one or two to add to your Mandarin study plan.

学业進步 (xué yè jìn bù)— May your studies progress!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Greetings, language enthusiasts and learners! As someone deeply immersed in the realm of language acquisition, particularly Mandarin Chinese, I bring forth a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to guide you on your linguistic journey. I understand the intricacies of language learning, recognizing that while grammar, context, and sentence structure are undeniably crucial, nothing surpasses the significance of building a robust vocabulary.

Now, let's delve into the concepts introduced in the article titled "Learning Mandarin Vocab? Check out These 5 Chinese Vocabulary Builders" by Em Casalena, updated on October 6, 2023. The article explores the importance of vocabulary in language learning and introduces various Chinese vocabulary builder tools. Here's a breakdown of the key concepts:

  1. Importance of Vocabulary: The article emphasizes that vocabulary serves as the foundation of any language. It acknowledges the significance of understanding grammar, context, and sentence structure but asserts that vocabulary is paramount.

  2. Chinese Vocabulary Builder Activities: The article introduces the concept of Chinese vocabulary builder activities as tools to memorize new or difficult words. Regardless of the learner's proficiency level, encountering puzzling words is inevitable in the process of mastering a complex language like Mandarin.

  3. HSK System: The HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) is mentioned as a benchmark for Mandarin proficiency. The article highlights that many vocabulary builders align with the HSK system, which comprises six levels of Mandarin proficiency. This ensures learners focus on the appropriate vocabulary for their skill level.

  4. Digital Dialects: This is one of the recommended vocabulary builder tools, particularly suitable for laptop users. Digital Dialects offers free Flash games for learning Mandarin, allowing learners to choose game options such as "pinyin with audio" or "Chinese characters without audio." Example words from Digital Dialects are provided.

  5. FluentU: FluentU is introduced as a platform that transforms authentic videos into personalized language learning lessons. Vocabulary words from FluentU's videos, such as "现在" (now) and "世界" (the world), are highlighted.

  6. Chinese Vocabulary Builder (101 Languages): This in-browser Flash game is designed for beginners but caters to intermediate and advanced learners. It focuses on hanzi (characters) and challenging vocabulary words, allowing learners to select lessons and quiz themselves on studied characters. Example words from this tool are provided.

  7. Chinese Visual Vocabulary Builder (Microsoft): This app, based on a unique learning method, caters to visual learners. It combines vocabulary and spoken phrases, making it useful for practical situations like business trips. The app, available for $9.99 in the Microsoft store, features flashcard levels and various categories. Sample words and phrases are provided.

  8. Arch Chinese: This vocabulary builder is recommended for those taking traditional Chinese courses. It functions as a flashcard application and vocab matching game, enabling users to upload custom vocabulary lists. Example words from the Chinese Vocab Matching Game by Arch Chinese are provided.

In conclusion, the article serves as a comprehensive guide for Mandarin learners, offering a diverse range of vocabulary builder tools catering to different learning preferences and proficiency levels. As an enthusiast with expertise in language acquisition, I encourage you to explore these resources to enhance your Mandarin vocabulary skills. Happy learning!

Brick by Brick: 5 Chinese Vocabulary Builders to Create a Strong Language Foundation (2024)


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