Upper Intermediate Chinese podcasts

matthias on 2014/02/23

In the aftermath of my Chinese learning recapitulation, I got a short motivation straw-fire. As of now, it has fizzled because I found more worthwhile side projects than the Chinese language. I was also rather pleased that I understood a lot more during my last trip to Taiwan, so writing the New HSK Level 5 in 2014 isn’t completely off the table yet.

During my motivation sprint, I looked for Chinese language podcasts with transcription that I could understand and I am going to list what I found here.

For foreign learners (mostly paid subscriptions)

  • Chinesepod Upper Intermediate feels very convenient now. I think I could still get something out of just listening and studying the occasional new vocab they explain. The other option would be their advance lessons. Remember that their first materials are still under Creative-Commons license and should be out there somewhere. No idea, how much they improved since then. For reference, the premium membership is 250 USD / year. You will have to sign up and click around a lot to find that out though; I really hate the shady feeling it leaves when businesses have me sign up and only then slowly start informing me about their prices. This seems to be the new thing in general though.
  • chineselearnonline.com. They are selling their individual lessons at 50 USD level. I like this concept much more than having a yearly or monthly subscription that I may or may not use a lot. You can check how your aptitude matches up with their levels by looking at the demos they offer: http://www.chineselearnonline.com/demo/list.html
  • iMandarinPod. They are selling everything they put out during a year for 30 USD which I find acceptable as well. I signed up for their trial membership and it felt somewhat uncoordinated. New content doesn’t seem to build on the last content. I printed some lessons, but I never got around to them.

Real podcasts (mostly free)

The following are podcasts that are made for the Chinese to enjoy, not for the foreigner to study. Some of them have transcripts, but most don’t. I still find them worthwhile.

  • dongwutalk. Probably my favorite show out there even though it’s really tough. It has a really long archive; you can download the last 200 episodes or so. The show features two guys (my Chinese is too bad to figure out if they’re famous experts of whatever) discussing contemporary issues. The explanation on how to find the transcripts online is buried in this post on chinese-forums.com. The entire thread is excellent, so read it if you can spare the time..
  • How Easy 好簡單 Video Podcast as recommended on chinesehacks.com. I have only watched some samples, but it’s quite funny. I don’t really want to follow videos though b/c that takes extra effort.
  • 声行漫步 Itunes, ximalaya (ximalaya looks it leads to a lot of other worthy podcasts as well). Credit for this also goes the thread on chinese-forums.com. Quoting: “As far as I can tell, it’s a collection of hand-crafted “stories” about cities in China, narrated by a girl with an absolutely fantastic, miraculously gorgeous voice. Seriously, if I could marry a voice, I would marry her’s. Each cast has the transcript included so you can pull up your iPod/iPhone or whatever and look up something if you don’t understand it.” The thing with the transcripts doesn’t work as well with Beyondpod on Android, so I can’t comment on that, but overall it’s a great show.
  • 双份De阳光 ximalaya, itunes A girl that is talking about her life; often takes a spiritual view if I remember correctly. I like it because of the nice music and the great voice.

  • BBC - Podcast of the day (新闻播客) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/podcastoftheday & http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/podcastoftheday/rss.xml) BBC hosts a news show that talks about daily events. Unfortunately this is somewhat too difficult for me, so maybe it should be considered advanced, not upper intermediate.

  • 老百姓的声音: http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/zhuanlan/laobaixingdeshengyin
    My new personal favorite! Random average people are calling and telling their story or their opinion on a recent development. Quite interesting and thankfully they don’t have overly thick accents most of the time 🙂 Still, I don’t understand everything, but I believe I understand enough to slowly improve by listening.