This is my opinion of ChinesePod, my favourite Chinese language study podcast.
I’ll describe how a podcast differs from a typical Chinese course, as well as the product’s key features and rates for various membership options. In addition, I’ll discuss the most common blunders individuals make when utilizing a podcast to learn languages.
Can a podcast like ChinesePod help you learn more effectively?
Motivation, flashcard review, the usage of a “traditional” Chinese course, and the need to listen to Chinese movies and music regularly were all stressed heavily. I also emphasized the importance of avoiding quick exhaustion by limiting my study time to one hour every day.
I maintained my drive and studied each day by sticking to a regular program. You may discover a list of my major Chinese study blunders and realizations here.
I decided to spend the hour I was going to my office more productively because I was travelling one hour per day.
Almost the entire time I was on the road, I listened to Chinese music. However, I enjoy bands with a distinct Beijing accent, such as the Er Shou Meigui (which I can barely understand).
I wasn’t picking up any new words from my listening exercise (movies weren’t helping much either). I wasn’t boosting my Mandarin comprehension, either, because understanding what people want to say enables you to progress much faster.
Even if I lived in China, it would limit my exposure to the language because I would spend my days working in front of a computer.
I’m no longer a student, so when I go out with my friends, I like to change to English (or switch language I comprehend entirely, such as Italian or Spanish), drink a glass of wine, and unwind.
As a result, I learned most of my new language using flashcards. And, while flashcards and SRS methods are excellent tools for learning a language, they are not “healthy.”
The issue is that when you use flashcards to memorize new words, your brain starts to stress out since you don’t have the context you need to fix a new term mentally.
If you’re interested in learning more about the value of acquiring Chinese words in context, I published an entire article about it.
As a result, I resolved to devote one hour each day (the time it took me to get to and from my office) to listen to a Chinese podcast.
I have learned that listening to podcasts is an excellent way to discover new terms and enhance your listening skills.
Why did I choose ChinesePod over another app?
The reason for this is that the Intermediate and Higher Intermediate level presenters were John Pasden. He also runs Sinosplice, one of my favourite Chinese-language blogs.
What is the price of a ChinesePod?
The Basic subscription is 14 dollars per month, while the Premium subscription is 29 dollars per month.
You also can pay monthly or annually if you wish to save some money. The following are the prices:
• Basic monthly: 14 dollars per month • Basic quarterly: 13 dollars per month (39 USD per quarter)
• Basic annual fee: ten dollars per month (124 USD per year)
Click here to see what each subscription type has to offer.
You can also subscribe for a month and download the podcasts you want to listen to because this is permitted (the database contains about 4.000 lessons at the moment I write). You can always re-subscribe to get new podcasts later. You may lose the other advantages in this case, but it may be a reasonable trade-off for you.
What do I enjoy about ChinesePod?
•you can get all educational resources for free (audio tracks, videos, and transcriptions).
• If you purchase a Premium package, you will also use their excellent app (accessible for iOS and Android), which you may use without being connected to the Internet.
• At the time of writing, ChinesePod has over 4.000 lessons available. So even if I miss the first two levels (they’re too simple for me), there are still roughly 3.000 lessons to select from.
• Most language courses focus on the same topics, which is lovely because I only want to listen to lectures on things that interest me to avoid monotony (order food at the restaurant, ask for directions, and so on). This is OK at first, but my attention span becomes too short to keep up with it after a time. So even though the ChinesePod classes are also about daily life, I felt they were more specific.
So you can listen in on a taxi driver’s conversation with a woman who refuses to ride in a taxi without seatbelts, learn how to get the biggest discount card from your hairdresser, or participate in the tragicomedy of a businessman who nearly misses his flight because his secretary misspelt his name while booking the ticket. You will discover many minor things about Chinese everyday life this way.
• Even though John is fluent in Chinese, he takes on the role of a bumbling laowai after each discussion. As a result, each session is a “Socratic” discussion in which John asks a slew of questions about grammar, tones, vocabulary, and Chinese traditions, as well as the female host (at the levels I listen to, Jenny or Dilu) responds.
This is amusing, and John does an excellent job portraying the “stupid” student (that is, you and me). As a result, it’s simple to develop empathy for him. Even if I’m strolling in the middle of Shanghai traffic congestion, this is typically enough to retain my attention.
• Listening to ChinesePod will help you understand Chinese grammar. They frequently pick a specific grammar structure (such as the infamous…), repeat it numerous times during the dialogue, and analyze it.
•The discussion of new words is my favourite part since I can place them in context with the dialogue and retain them better than when they appear in my flashcards session.
Each discussion is accompanied by a pdf and HTML transcription (in Chinese characters and pinyin) and a translation. I particularly appreciate the HTML transcript because it allows me to copy-paste the sentences I want to remember directly into my flashcard deck.
I’ve written about why you should utilize flashcards and why you should only make flashcards that contain whole sentences (rather than just words or symbols) here:
What should you do to get through your Chinese class?
• The lessons on ChinesePod are divided into six levels: beginner, basic, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advanced. You will also have accessibility to all podcasts and files based on your class once you have subscribed.
While the dialogues in the first two levels are relatively straightforward, and the discussion following the conversation is in English, the female host begins speaking in Chinese at the Intermediate level. At the same time, the male presenter continues to speak in English. Starting with the Upper Intermediate lessons, the male host speaks Chinese (switches to English from time to time).
Advanced-level lectures are entirely Chinese and present actual Chinese sources without any filters.
• You can ask a question or provide or receive feedback by leaving a comment on the lesson’s webpage. There is also a community where you can pose questions and interact with other students.
•There are a lot of video tutorials in addition to the audio files.
• It provides Say It Well, a video program for all levels that aims to enhance and correct pronunciation faults, which is an integral part of Chinese.
You’ll also get access to lesson review tasks, customized vocabulary lists, and vocabulary study with flashcards if you upgrade to Premium.
•You will also get used to its great app if you subscribe to the Premium plan.
Common ChinesePod blunders
• It’s human instinct to avoid squandering resources that we’ve paid for. This is one of the reasons why we eat until there is no more food, even if we are no longer hungry (the other reason is that we are greedy).
Since we paid for all of the podcasts, we feel compelled to make the most of the course by beginning and to work our way through all the discussions.
This, in my opinion, is the most basic mistake among podcast listeners, as both John Pasden and Sinosplice have pointed out.
If the Newbie podcasts are too simple for you, move on to the Elementary or even Pre-Intermediate levels. Again, you’ll push yourself out of your comfort zone, forcing yourself to pay closer attention and learn more quickly this way.
I made the same error with ChinesePod by staying too long at the Intermediate level.
•Another mistake that is similar to the first is choosing a level and afterwards listening to all of the podcasts without evaluating whether or not you are interested in the topic.
Boredom is your only enemy while studying a complex language like Mandarin, as I point out virtually every time I write about it.
When you become bored, you lose drive and begin to rationalize that no matter what you do, you will never learn Chinese, that you will leave China one day and forget everything, and so on. The litany of our illogical rationalizations goes on and on.
reasoning) tries to entice you back to your old habits. Steven Pressfield coined “resistance” to describe this phenomenon in his excellent book The War of Art. It’s a must-read for anyone with a creative job or who wants to improve at doing something (Mandarin, for instance).
• You don’t follow up after you listen. It’s fantastic to listen to a podcast regularly. However, if you don’t review the dialogue afterwards, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to expand your vocabulary.
I propose utilizing flashcards and downloading the free software Anki to keep track of your sessions because it has a terrific algorithm that will save you a lot of time.
Considerations at the end
You are correct if you believe that all of this motivational nonsense is nonsense and that the simplest method to learn Chinese is to go outside and chat with Chinese people. However, this may be sufficient for you if you are sufficiently motivated.
Simply by getting out, talking to people, and paying attention, I acquired French, English, and Spanish. It worked because I was motivated appropriately. I lived in France, were speaking English or any other language is frowned upon (no offence to French people here, Italian and Spanish people are as spoiled as them). I needed to learn English for my profession, but I adore Spanish and can’t stop speaking it whenever I get the chance.
This, however, did not go over well with the Chinese. Although I have been in China since 2010, I can get around using English and call a friend for assistance whenever I have to do something more complicated, such as rent an apartment or visit the hospital.
So it’s either avoid boredom & find the best drive or never study Chinese for me. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this issue.