Skip to Main Content

Chinese Studies: Language Learning

A resource guide for students learning Chinese as a second or foreign language

Finding books

Especially for beginners, e-textbooks are the best option for learning Chinese as opposed to the physical textbooks. They are newer, more applicable, and more user-friendly than any of the materials made for foreigners on the shelves at WashU. See below to see recommended textbooks and readers. Alternatively, you can also search "learning Chinese" though the Library catalog.

Other materials:

At higher stages of learning a language, reading about a topic you are interested in is a great way to build vocabulary. Click here to see the newest books added to the East Asian Library collection (updated monthly). Also, feel free to take a look at the new book display at the East Asian Library to see the most recent additions to the collection. You can also search for a topic you are interested in in Chinese on the Library catalog.

Most of the Chinese materials at WashU are more academic and not suitable for language learners. However, the books under "Book recommendations" may be less intimidating to foreigners.


The Open Textbook Library also has a few open access books for elementary Chinese, which include audio and video.


The East Asian Library also has 大中华文库 / Library of Chinese Classics, a collection of iconic Chinese works of literature with translations, historical information and explanations. Not only do they include the English translations, but many include a version written in modern-day Chinese, which can help non-Chinese students without a background in Classical Chinese understand them. The works span across Chinese history from ancient times all the way to the Qing dynasty, and also cover a diverse array of topics including history, poetry, religion, and military science. Click the list to see a full list available at the library.

Book recommendations

Volumes 11-14 of the above series can be viewed here

If you are interested in Chinese philosophy and traditional stories, the library holds several comic books illustrated by Cai Zhizhong 蔡志忠. While the concepts of these comics are higher-level, some more advanced students may find the pictures helpful for understanding the story and learning the vocabulary. Click here to see a full list of his titles available at the library.

漫画道家思想 Taoism in Comics仁者的叮咛 : 孔子说 Confucius Speaks漫画禅宗思想 Zen Buddhism in Comics