Elevating my Chinese reading & writing: one month using maayot – a review

Maayot is a fairly new app that helps to improve your Chinese reading, writing and speaking by providing a daily story and exercises. It is nicely designed and powered by a dedicated team in Hongkong. I tested it for one month. Here’s the summary of my experience learning Chinese with maayot.

Over the past years, I wrote on a number of Chinese reader apps (DuShu, Readibu, Easy Chinese News, Weixin DuShu and more), but I so far hadn’t checked out more than maayot’s free account. This time I ‘went Pro’ and got access to everything.

In this blog, I’ll quickly introduce the app and its main features. I summarize my own findings and try to answer the following questions:

What can this app do that other apps cannot?

What does it cost and is it worth it?

For whom is this app interesting (and for whom not)?

Please note that this review contains affiliate links. Nonetheless, I try to be as objective as I can and write a helpful review that helps answering the question whether maayot can support your Chinese learning in a meaningful way.

First steps: choose your level

Start reading today’s story

What does maayot have that similar apps don’t?

Writing and correction

Recording and correction

What does it cost?

Differences between mobile and desktop version

What if I don’t like the content?

Anything to improve?


1. First steps: choose your level

You can choose between three levels: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Beginner (roughly) matches the first three HSK levels, intermediate matches HSK 4 and 5, and advanced equals HSK 6 and beyond.

I picked the advanced level, since I’ve passed the HSK 5 and started studying ‘HSK 6 territory’ (although my speaking skills are lagging behind by lack of daily practice). My expectation was to read short, yet complex texts, learn new words and improve my writing skills by daily practice and feedback. And above all, I wanted to have a good time.

2. Start reading today’s story

Every day, you’ll find a new story in the maayot app and a timer shows how long it will be available before a new story appears. The heading is in Chinese and the summary in English. A star rating signifies the difficulty level. In this case, it’s a conversation about a crime that happened in China.

In the next step, you enter reading mode. Every text typically introduces two new words (in green) and repeats vocabulary from passed texts (in orange). You can choose to show pinyin and read the English translation if you want to. Every text is recorded by a native speaker. The speed of the audio recording can be adjusted. The record button integrated in the player allows you to record your own reading.

3. What does maayot have that similar apps don’t?

Maayot isn’t the only graded reader app for Chinese learners. The Chairman’s Bao (TCB) is somewhat similar, providing almost daily new content.

The difference is that maayot creates a learning path and picks the story for you. That might seem a disadvantage, since you can’t just choose a topic according to your interest. The advantage, however, compared to TCB is that the stories are organized in a way that is beneficial to your vocabulary learning. Not unlike spaced repetition you repeat previous learnt words with smart intervals. New vocabulary comes only in small doses.

Maayot also stands out with its clean and distraction-free design that is ideal for focused reading. The idea of fresh content, only available for a limited time, pushes you not to miss it, although past stories can still be read (exercises can’t be submitted anymore though).

But most importantly, in my view, are the individual writing and pronunciation corrections, because this is a feature that you won’t find in any other Chinese graded reader app. This means you’re not merely reading, but also actively producing and get feedback from a teacher.

Why is this important? Well, TCB is a great app for improving your reading skills, but merely reading and doing some exercises somehow doesn’t do it. It simply doesn’t stick. And this not only due to lack of an effective structure or learning routine, but because the ‘production’-part is missing. Maayot tackled exactly this problem by delivering a writing prompt and corrections.

I made this short video, serving as a tour through the app.

4. Learning Chinese with maayot – writing and correction

Maayot’s team usually provides feedback within a day. The screenshot above shows what it looks like. I’m not sure why, but it’s always excited to see how the text you wrote the previous day returns, which words crossed out, which were added. Sometimes the corrector adds a personal comment. In short: The more you write, the more effort you put in, the bigger the reward, the more you learn.

5. Learning with maayot – recording and correction

Many learners who are serious about improving their pronunciation practice reading out loud. Maayot has integrated this as a feature. Read and record your voice. No worries, you can have several takes. I know I did.

A teacher from the maayot team uploads her or his correction the next day. I got a lot of useful feedback on my tones. Especially fourth tones like in 据报道 which I screwed up, but also second tones. Having your reading examined by a teacher really helps to stay sharp and take tones seriously. And although you might not feel a personal connection with the teacher who is correcting you, you still don’t want to disappoint them by making the same mistakes over and over again.

6. Learning Chinese with maayot – what does it cost?

Maayot offers three plans: Free, Standard and Pro.

You can choose between Free, Standard and Pro and a monthly or a yearly subscription. The latter has a lower monthly price. The free plan merely gives a taste of the maayot experience. By creating a free account you get one free story every Sunday, but can’t enjoy any of the key features.

With the standard plan ($ 10 /month) you can start reading on a daily basis, do the quiz and writing prompt, but you won’t receive writing and speaking corrections. That is a real pity, since these two features really make the app special. They allow you to go beyond passively absorbing content by actively creating your own output and get feedback from a teacher. So only with Pro ($ 37,5 /month) you enjoy the full maayot offer including daily, individual corrections.

7. Differences between mobile and desktop version

Mobile and desktop version are synchronized when you’re logged in with the same account, but currently only the desktop version offers all features. For example, the mobile app only allows you to read ‘today’s story’ and do the exercises. You can’t – at the moment of writing – access past stories or corrections or unfold the English translation for that matter. Also worth noting is that the mobile app does not support speaking and writing submissions for corrections (yet). These should be made on the maayot website.

8. Learning Chinese with maayot – what if I don’t like the content?

If you’re learning Chinese with maayot you can choose your level, but not the texts or topics you want to read. So you’re sort of ‘stuck with’ the content the maayot team provides. On the other hand, these texts aren’t simply random texts. They are carefully tailored to introduce new vocabulary and repeat previously studied words, as well refresh certain topics. Pretty much like a Chinese coursebook with an intelligent progression of learning content.

This also means you’ll get a daily surprise and won’t have to waste a single moment searching for something interesting to read. You can ‘go with the flow’ and trust maayot to come up with brilliant reading material. And last but not least, the texts aren’t that long, so even when it’s not your cup of tea, reading them is a matter of minutes.

By the way, so far I enjoyed the variation of the advanced level texts. All topics are related to present-day China. Many of them are in the field of economics and finance. We covered the e-commerce platform 1688 for example, layoffs and recent developments in the Chinese banking sector. All topics especially relevant for people with a professional interest in China.

9. Learning Chinese with maayot – anything to improve?

Maayot is like any other language learning app work in progress. Some things I personally noticed:

Audio player should have a jump backward & forward button.

Auto-replay option for learners who like to put audio on repeat (while doing other stuff). I always find it makes reading out loud easier when you first listen at least 4 times.

For long-term users a option to download all writings and corrections would be nice. Or even – with the help of AI – a summary of your most common mistakes or other useful feedback.

10. Learning Chinese with maayot – verdict

I tested the Pro Plan for one month and really enjoyed it. Even though it was a little intensive to do every day. Reading, writing and recording took me between 30 and 60 minutes. The good thing is that you are surprised every day by a new story that, although new, also contains many familiar elements. No random content, but a learning path. These new texts and daily corrections kept me energized. It feels good because you’re working on your vocabulary and ‘fluency’ in different, yet related areas.

Standard or Pro plan?

Although maayot offers discounts for students and teachers, the Pro plan – which would be my first pick because of the corrections – does seem quite expensive ($450 yearly). Compared to the graded reader app The Chairman’s Bao for example, which currently costs $80 / year, but doesn’t provide corrections, yet also has plenty of interesting content to discover.

For me the Standard Plan really lacks the most interesting features. The stories with their natural progression are nice, but there’s no way to test and challenge yourself by writing and speaking (and being corrected). So – in my view – it has to be the Pro Plan.

Who should be interested in giving maayot a try?

Maayot covers all levels – from beginner level to intermediate and advanced. I think the app is especially interesting for self-directed learners who are willing to invest 30 to 60 minutes of daily learning time. But anyone who wants to improve one of these three skill sets – reading, writing and pronunciation – or all of them should be able profit from using maayot. It’s not unlike a language class: you can make remarkable progress, but you have to show up and put in the effort to get the reward. By providing a daily story and exercises that you can finish within 30 to 60 minutes maayot does offer more structure for learners than most other apps.

Is it worth it?

Is this worth spending $37,5 every month compared to other options? I personally have no knowledge of apps that offer quite the same features and learning experience. It’s a very convenient way to receive instant feedback without taking expensive Chinese lessons (it costs about $ 1,25 / day) . Plus, maayot challenges you to cultivate a daily habit of writing and practicing your pronunciation. If you mostly care about your writing skills though, a platform like Journaly or – when you’re lucky – a language partner might be the less pricey option.

It also depends how you look on it. If you consider maayot to be purely a Chinese learning app, it does seem rather expensive. If you look at it as ‘daily access to a Chinese teacher’s feedback’, maayot doesn’t seem expensive at all.


All in all, I had a very positive experience and don’t doubt that maayot can boost your reading, writing and pronunciation in a significant way, when you put in the effort. If you want to check out for yourself, simply visit the maayot website and create an account.

Affiliate links

Disclosure: These are affiliate links. They help me to support this blog, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Post