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Archive for the 'Chinese Podcasts' Category

Learn Chinese Anywhere: The 10 Best Chinese Podcasts

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Chinese isn’t the easiest language to learn. Maybe you’re tired of studying Chinese from your lengthy and grammar-heavy textbooks. Maybe you want to speed up your Chinese learning but can hardly find the extra time to study in your busy day-to-day life. Or maybe you’re running out of Chinese learning materials and don’t know where to find more resources.

Look no further: It’s time to try Chinese podcasts!  

Not only are podcasts easy to access, but they also make learning convenient, mobile, and fun! Better still, there’s something for everyone: beginners, intermediate learners, and even more advanced students. Keep reading to find the right Chinese podcast for you!

Tablet User with Headphones

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Best Chinese Podcasts for Beginners
  2. Best Chinese Podcasts for Intermediate Learners
  3. Best Chinese Podcasts for Advanced Learners
  4. The Best Chinese Podcast for All Levels
  5. Last, But Not Least

1. Best Chinese Podcasts for Beginners

The best Chinese podcasts for beginners possess certain features, such as clear pronunciation and the use of common daily expressions. Some podcasts also come with downloadable transcripts so you can follow along. 

Living Chinese 实景汉语 (shíjǐng Hànyǔ)

This is a great podcast series for people with zero Chinese speaking experience who plan to travel to or live in China. Additionally, we recommend this series for those who haven’t yet decided whether they’re ready to learn Chinese, but would like a sneak-peek of the language and culture. 

The series focuses on real-life situations with short dialogues, giving you a glimpse of China and the everyday lives of Chinese people. These Chinese podcast lessons cover common everyday topics such as shopping, taking a taxi, going to the hospital, hunting for an apartment, and so on. 

Unfortunately, this series only has 23 lessons available. However, it’s still an excellent place to get a headstart in your Chinese learning, especially if you’re an absolute beginner. If you’re interested, check out their lesson Taking a Taxi

Beginners’ Chinese

This series was designed by The Open University. The best part of this podcast is that each lesson is no longer than two minutes. The dialogues primarily focus on everyday life, though there are also some lessons explaining the basics of Chinese pronunciation as well as the tones. Each lesson is designed to give you a taste of the Chinese language and culture. Along with the short dialogue tracks, you’ll find transcripts to download for free. 

You can find all 46 lessons (with transcripts) on iTunes

You Can Learn Chinese

Unlike many other Chinese learning podcasts for beginners—which are structured with vocabulary lists, dialogue, and explanation sections—each episode of You Can Learn Chinese is formatted as a casual conversation between two Chinese learners. In this podcast, they share their experiences with learning Chinese and suggest tricks & tips for making the acquisition process smoother. They also discuss frequently asked questions from Chinese learners.

Created in 2019, this popular Chinese learning podcast is still actively publishing two episodes every month. Want to get a feel for what to expect? Then we recommend heading over to this lesson, where they talk about when you should start learning Chinese characters.

2. Best Chinese Podcasts for Intermediate Learners

As learners approach an intermediate level, variety is key. When it comes to practicing your listening comprehension, try to find materials related to history, culture, and current topics. It’s also recommended to listen to podcasts that are in Chinese only.

Great Wall of China

Speak Chinese Naturally 自然而然说中文 (zìránérrán shuō Zhōngwén)

This podcast actively uploads content on a bimonthly basis. It’s perfect for people who have some knowledge of the Chinese language and culture and want to go deeper. Each episode is recorded in Chinese, and transcripts are available for download.

There really is a lot of content for intermediate-level learners to explore here. For example, the episodes cover topics such as popular Chinese cities to visit and the stories behind some fascinating aspects of Chinese culture:

  • 成语 (chéngyǔ) – “idioms” 
  • 俗语 (súyǔ) – “sayings” 
  • 传说 (chuánshuō) – “folklore” 

Curious to learn more? We recommend checking out their lesson on the weird habits of Chinese people on Apple Podcast.

Learning Chinese Through Stories 听故事学中文 (tīng gùshi xué Zhōngwén)

Another active Chinese-language podcast series for intermediate learners, Learning Chinese Through Stories is all about stories and discussions. Topics include Chinese history, traditional Chinese holidays, work-life balance, celebrities from all around the world, Chinese songs, and difficult Chinese grammar points. The two native Chinese hosts speak in a relatively slow and clear manner, occasionally repeating key words and phrases

This intermediate-level podcast is perfect for those who would like to bring their Chinese to the next level. The podcast transcripts are available for download by donating $3-$5 per month on Patreon. 

To get a taste, listen to this episode where they introduce the Chinese influencer 李子柒 (Lǐ Zǐqī), who has over 15 million subscribers on YouTube.  

Slow Chinese 慢速中文 (mànsù Zhōngwén)

Just as the name suggests, the podcast episodes in this series are narrated at a slow speed by native Chinese speakers. Instead of everyday phrases and conversations, you’ll hear about widely discussed and highly controversial topics such as “political correctness in China” and “sexual scandal of a professor from Beihang University.” Because of the slow speed, it’s a great audio resource for pronunciation or writing practice; you can easily repeat phrases after the speakers or write down the Chinese characters you hear.  

Here’s an episode that talks about a popular Chinese photo-editing app called 美图秀秀 (Měi tú xiù xiù) – “Meitu.” 

3. Best Chinese Podcasts for Advanced Learners

Advanced learners will benefit from more in-depth discussions containing vocabulary that’s used mainly in writing or formal situations—truly ambitious learners might even want to try their ear at classical Chinese! To really improve your Chinese with podcasts at this stage, we recommend trying to translate each episode you listen to and focusing on podcasts that meet your interests. 

Below are some podcasts that are great for more advanced learners, mostly focusing on news and history. 

MandarinPod 中文特高级 (Zhōngwén tè gāo jí)

MandarinPod is a conversational Chinese language learning podcast. You’ll hear current and engaging content designed for advanced learners. This podcast will help you improve your listening skills, dive deeper into Chinese culture, discover the opinions of Chinese people on different topics, and even learn about expats’ experiences living in China. 

MandarinPod is actively producing new content every month. To get started, we recommend listening to this episode, where an expat shares his experience of being gay in China.

China: As History is My Witness 

This BBC Chinese podcast is narrated in English, but it still offers a panoramic view of the history of China and the notorious people behind it. If you’re serious about studying China’s history, we recommend you give this podcast a try.

Here’s an episode about 秦始皇 (Qínshǐhuáng), or “Qin Shi Huang,” the first emperor of China following its unification.

Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang

Story FM 故事 FM (gùshi FM)

This is a 100% native Chinese podcast that tells the stories of ordinary Chinese people. People are invited to share their stories, struggles, thoughts, and outlooks on life.

We recommend this podcast series for advanced Chinese language learners because the narrators often have heavy accents and speak in local dialects. The podcast’s slogan is, after all: 

用你的声音,讲述你的故事。(Yòng nǐ de shēngyīn, jiǎngshù nǐ de gùshi.) – “Use your own voice to tell your own story.” 

This also makes this podcast the closest to reality.

Male Farmer

New content is uploaded every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you’re curious about the life of a multimillionaire’s wife, check out this episode on 故事 FM.

Searching for more native Chinese podcasts like this one? Head on over to the popular Chinese podcast sites 蜻蜓 FM (qīngtíng FM) and 喜马拉雅 (xǐmǎlāyǎ). Here, you can find different types of Chinese audiobooks, music, news, talk shows, traditional crosstalks (相声 xiàngsheng), and so on—all meant for native Chinese speakers.  

4. The Best Chinese Podcast for All Levels 

Now it’s time to introduce the podcast we’ve all been waiting for—the best Chinese podcast for any level!

Happy Students Jumping

ChineseClass101

What makes the ChineseClass101 podcast so amazing for learners? 

We regularly upload new lessons, each one featuring world-class content created by language experts and presented by native Chinese speakers. We provide podcast lessons for learners at every level—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—so that you’ll always have access to useful and engaging content that’ll help you level up faster.

In case you love our podcast but feel it’s not quite enough, we recommend creating your free lifetime account on ChineseClass101.com today. Here, you’ll find: 

Consistent Lesson Structure

Every audio and video lesson is structured with a lesson introduction, everyday dialogue (read by native speakers at normal speed and then slow speed), vocabulary explanations, grammar explanations, and cultural insights. Most audio lessons are hosted by a Chinese teacher and a Chinese learner, who together provide insights from both a Chinese and non-Chinese perspective. 

On your smartphones, tablets, or computers, you can download complete transcripts and lesson notes. 

Curated Pathways

An exciting new feature on ChineseClass101.com is our curated pathways. After you log in for the first time, you’ll find a guided pathway for your current level that takes you from lesson to lesson, interwoven with assessments. The five levels are closely in line with the CEFR  (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), which helps to measure your learning progress. 

Growing Sprouts

Useful Study Tools

There are so many useful tools on our website, such as flashcards, vocabulary lists, and assessments.

In particular, we highly recommend that our learners take advantage of the voice recorder. Imagine, for instance, that you find yourself really struggling to master the four tones. With the recording feature, you can easily record and play back your pronunciation and compare it with a native speaker’s. You’ll be surprised how fast your tones and pronunciation improve. Just look for the microphone icon next to the dialogue lines and vocabulary words in every lesson. 

Different Plans to Choose From

Of course, you can listen to our podcast for free and even create your free lifetime account on our website for access to a few lessons each month. But if you decide that ChineseClass101 is the best learning platform for you, we recommend upgrading to a Basic account for just $4/month (for a 24-month subscription). This will give you complete access to our lessons and downloadable lesson notes. 

If you love our content, upgrade to the Premium subscription for just $6 more a month. This will allow you to use many more study tools like those we mentioned above.

For those who would like to study intensively and get faster results, take advantage of a Premium PLUS subscription for just $23 a month. You’ll get all the features, plus access to your own personal teacher. 

5. Last, But Not Least

Learning Chinese doesn’t have to be painful. With podcasts, you can be entertained and get educated at the same time. If you’re determined to conquer Chinese, it’s time to set your goals, find your level, and get a little forward motion every day with the help of Chinese podcasts! There are so many wonderful resources out there to help you succeed.

Start now by logging in to ChineseClass101.com!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?

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How long will it take me to achieve the desired level in my target language? Will I ever get there? 

These can be excruciating questions for any diligent language learner, but knowing the answers can give you a sense of security and motivate you to work even harder toward your goal

Today, we’re going to answer that pressing question: How long does it take to learn Chinese? We’ll give you the best possible answer for each of the three major levels in Chinese learning (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Moreover, we’ll provide you with a few secret tips on how to learn Chinese effectively! 

But first: Have you ever wondered why some people can learn Chinese quickly, and others learn it more slowly? Well, there are many contributing factors. Your language learning progress can be affected by any number of things, such as…

  • …the kind of environment you’re in. 
  • …the amount of time and effort you dedicate to learning. 
  • …your own gift or knack for languages. 

After reading this article, I believe you’ll have a much better idea of how long it will take you to master Chinese based on these and other factors.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. The Factors Involved in Your Learning Progress
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?
  5. Conclusion

1. The Factors Involved in Your Learning Progress

As mentioned, there are a few different things that can affect how long it takes to learn Chinese. Here’s a quick breakdown of those factors for you. 

Your Native Language vs. Chinese

All of the time estimates in this guide are based on the assumption that your native language is English or one of the Romance languages, which are very different from the Chinese language. But if you happen to know one or more Asian languages already (such as Korean or Japanese), congratulations! This will definitely give you a major advantage and make the learning process a lot faster for you, because these languages share many similarities with Chinese. 

Your Study Method

Everyone has his or her own way of learning and adapting to things. The first thing you should do is become aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and then find the best way to utilize or tackle them. 

Secondly, determine your goal and main reason for learning the language. Do you want to become a fluent Chinese speaker so you can have fulfilling conversations while traveling? Or would you like to read a book in Chinese? Your answers to these questions will determine how much time you should assign to learning different parts of the language, such as reading comprehension/vocab memorization and speaking/pronunciation practice. 

Once you pinpoint your goals, it’s time to take real action! Are you going to self-teach or learn the language systematically at an institution or convenient online class? To figure this out, ask yourself whether you thrive in people-oriented environments, or whether you have enough discipline to study by yourself. Either way, find the learning methods that best suit your interests and preferences. 

From there, it’s all about dedication! 

Your Own Dedication

A Man Studying Late at Night

If you want to achieve something, then you’ll have to pour your sweat and tears into it.

Have you established your goals and put a systematic learning system in place for yourself? Great! But that’s just the start. Learning a language is a daily practice that requires consistency; if you ever break that consistency, your progress may go downhill. 

You need to always keep your motivation in mind and push yourself forward in this long journey, little by little. You might get upset sometimes, but remember that this happens to everyone. It may take a long time for the progress to reveal itself, so it’s normal to become frustrated. The important thing is that you don’t give up. 

The Environment Around You

If you’re planning to move to China for work, study, or even just a short trip, take advantage of the opportunity and talk to people. Pay attention to the way they talk and never feel afraid to speak, even if you have limited proficiency. 

If you were raised in a bilingual environment, this is another huge plus for learning a third language. This is because your brain has already adapted to language learning and switching between languages—one less factor to worry about! 

Of course, it’s possible that you’re stuck in your own place for now and have no native Chinese speakers around. No worries! Try your best to create an immersive environment for yourself, whether that means listening to local Chinese audio sources, watching Chinese shows, or even trying to make a Chinese friend online. All of these things may boost your language speaking ability dramatically!

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to start strong as you enter the beginner level. Here’s some useful information on how long you can expect this to take, what the “beginner level” looks like, and how to get there quickly! 

What a Chinese Beginner Needs to Know

A Man with Steam Coming Out of His Ears in Frustration

The beginning part of the learning process is always the hardest!

HSK, also known as 汉语水平考试 (hàn yǔ shuǐ píng kǎo shì) in Chinese, is the only official Mandarin Chinese proficiency exam for non-native speakers in China. It includes six levels across the beginner, intermediate, and advanced stages. 

As a beginner in the Chinese language, you should first start by learning the Pinyin system. Once you have that down, you can move on to learning phrases for basic daily greetings, self-introductions, telling the time, and asking for help and directions, as well as other everyday vocabulary. 

Of course, your proficiency is very limited at this point. Chinese is a tonal language, a concept that is difficult for speakers of English and Romance languages to grasp. In addition, the writing system is quite different and thus complicated to learn. Don’t worry about those things just yet; try your best to master the basics first and the harder aspects will become easier as you progress.

Required Time to Achieve the Beginner Level

Because Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, it usually takes more time to grasp the fundamentals than it would for other languages. Assuming a student is studying consistently on a daily basis and putting in quality effort, it should take around 30-50 hours to achieve a beginner level. 

Secret Tips for Beginners

Are you feeling overwhelmed already, and wondering how to learn Chinese from scratch in the most efficient way possible? Don’t worry! These tips from ChineseClass101.com will help you make the most of your study time. 

Tip #1

Take advantage of your free time or time between tasks! You can keep a stack of flashcards in your pocket to review throughout the day or repeat vocabulary in your head while waiting in line, doing chores, or even taking a shower. Don’t underestimate these precious moments; once they accumulate, they can become pretty powerful.

Tip #2

Watch some Netflix shows or YouTube videos in Chinese with the help of English or Chinese subtitles, and never let a new vocab word slip past you again! Once you catch a word you don’t know, pause the video and look it up. It can be excruciating to pause the video over and over again, but trust me: you’ll learn more this way than you would just being entertained!

Tip #3

Chinese is a flexible language. As a beginner, you should start by mastering the Pinyin and trying to get a hang of the tones. Once you grasp the pronunciation aspect, it’s time to learn the most frequently used vocabulary and practice using those words in sentences. Don’t worry about the writing just yet—after all, learning how to converse is the most important part of learning a language.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “How are you?”

Language points: Common daily phrases
Highlight: Learn how to use Chinese adjectives and how to negate them.
Estimated time to study: An hour
Tips: Try to read out loud along with the video, doing so several times until you get used to reading the new phrases. Try reading them by yourself while thinking about the meaning.

3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?

Depending on your goals, the next logical step is probably to begin working toward an intermediate level. But what exactly does this look like and how long will it take to get there? 

What an Intermediate Chinese Learner Needs to Know

Two Twin Girls Sitting on the Couch and Raising Their Arms

You’re getting better and better now after so much practice! Congratulations!

It takes about 1-3 years to become fluent in daily conversations in Chinese. At this level, you’ll be able to talk about what you’ve done and express your feelings, which are considered intermediate-level topics. Additionally, you should be able to articulate the different tones most of the time and be able to read any Chinese character with the help of Pinyin. 

The writing system may still seem complicated to you as an intermediate learner, but you should be able to write some basic Chinese characters. In addition, you should be able to read most of the commonly used sentences and have a good understanding of how they’re structured. 

Required Time to Achieve the Intermediate Level

I suggest you spend at least two hours a day studying, which will ensure you can achieve the intermediate level within three years. These two hours should be spent effectively, studying all aspects of the language: active reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Secret Tips for Intermediate Chinese Learners

Tip #1

Instead of flashcards, you should now have a handbook of all the new and old vocabulary you’ve learned. You should form the habit of reviewing and updating it daily to keep track of your progress.

Tip #2

As you approach the intermediate level, you should try to start thinking like a Chinese speaker. This will pave the way for your upcoming advanced-level studies. Namely, you should actively learn Chinese like a native speaker and try to memorize vocabulary without translating it to your own language.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “Chinese Study Abroad”

Language points: Vocabulary and grammar
Highlight: Learn how to stand up for yourself.
Estimated time to study: An hour and a half
Tips: Take advantage of the “Vocabulary” part of the lesson, because it will introduce you to the Chinese spelling, Pinyin, and pronunciation of the most commonly used words for daily conversations.

4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?

If your goal is to become completely fluent in Chinese, then let us congratulate you! That will be a huge accomplishment that will change your life for the better. To help you out, here’s everything you need to know about how to reach this level and how long it will take. 

What an Advanced Chinese Learner Needs to Know

Two People with Cardboard Boxes on Their Head Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Gotta give yourself a thumbs-up if you ever achieve this level!

An advanced Chinese learner should be able to express things in depth and in a more elaborate manner. Prior to reaching this level, you should have started to learn more like a native speaker, meaning that you’re now able to speak, write, read, and listen without translation to your native language (most of the time).

Required Time to Achieve the Advanced Level

It takes about 4-7 years (roughly 2200 to 4000 hours) to become fluent in every aspect of the language, if you spend at least an hour and a half to study every day. However, it’s quite common for learners to become more fluent in some areas than others depending on how they allotted their study time. For example, you might have excellent Chinese speaking skills but have limited reading and writing ability. 

Secret Tips for Advanced Chinese Learners

Tip #1

You should try to create the best possible language learning environment for yourself as possible. To do this, try to think and talk to yourself in Chinese whenever you can; this will enhance your ability to learn the language like a native speaker would. If you’ve experienced any struggles with thinking in Chinese, you should actively look for a solution to this problem while you continue to pick up useful vocabulary and expressions. 

Tip #2

You should now challenge yourself by reading simple Chinese books and trying to keep a journal in Chinese. This will improve your skills in both reading and writing, as well as speaking. Above all, you should shift your goal from simply being able to converse to enriching the conversation.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “The Joy of Being Busy”

Language points: Grammar, structure of sentences, and vocabulary
Highlight: Listen to our Chinese host talk about what she does in her spare time to relax in China.
Estimated time to study: Two hours
Tips: Try to learn the sentence patterns and common phrases used here. You can use them for your journal to make your writing sound more natural.

Conclusion

A ChineseClass101 Image

ChineseClass101 has the ultimate Chinese learning resources for you!

How long does it take to learn Chinese? By now, you should have a much clearer picture of the time commitment you’re looking at based on your goals. No matter what those goals are or where you are right now, there are two important things you should do to maximize your progress: 

  • Know your personal strengths and weaknesses.
  • Build your own unique learning system.

ChineseClass101 has established a unique learning system customized for our dedicated members. Our approach allows students to learn Chinese in the fastest and easiest way possible. We provide thousands of practical, immersive lessons that will guide you through daily Chinese conversations with up-to-date vocabulary and colloquial language—and the fun doesn’t stop there! 

You’ll also get a chance to experience Chinese culture and local life. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, you can be sure to find your perfect fit as we have lessons for every level of proficiency. Join now and you’ll get much more than learning materials. You’ll be getting the language learning experience of a lifetime!

How likely are you to start (or continue) learning Chinese after reading this article? Do you still have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments!

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Learn Chinese Direct from Beijing with ChineseClass101.com

Dear Chinese Students,

Today we’re pleased to announce the launch of ChineseClass101.com. This is a joint project between Popup Chinese and the folks at Innovative Language Learning.

If you’re familiar with the Innovative Language approach to teaching, you’ll know the strength of their materials has always been tight, step-by-step progressive lessons for beginners. At Popup Chinese, we’ve historically geared our materials towards more advanced students, so when we had the chance to cooperate with the Innovative team and work together to build something that could take advantage of the powerful system they’ve already built we leapt at the chance, and began work designing a focused and stepwise program for Mandarin instruction.

Although a few hints leaked out (*ahem*), for the past few months we’ve worked somewhat stealthily to build the best team possible for the task. You’ll find our progressive beginner lessons hosted by none other than the famous Frank Fradella. Other big names on our roster are Amber Scorah and of course everyone on our existing team like Echo Yao and Brendan O’Kane. This is a great team and I can say with confidence I’ve never worked with a stronger one. With more than 100 lessons on the new site, our content is off to a good start too. As Frank said once after a marathon recording session, “our first twenty lessons here teach more than I learned in a whole year studying elsewhere.”

We think this is a great step forward and look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts as well. It is definitely a major step forward for Chinese language education online. There’s never been a better time to learn Chinese, or a better way to learn it online. Regardless of whether you’re an advanced independent learner or a total newbie, we hope you’ll enjoy the work we’ll be doing both here and at ChineseClass101. Thanks for your support, and 加油 everyone!

Best from Beijing,

David Lancashire

Best from New York,

Amber Scorah