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🎧 The Best Podcasts For Learning Chinese
A list of my favorite podcasts that helped me learn fluent Chinese
哈啰 Chinese learners!
It’s no secret that I love podcasts for learning languages. I think podcasts are the best tool for learning Chinese.
Today I’m going to share with you the best podcasts that have helped me learn fluent Chinese so you don’t have to spend hours looking for them yourself.
I’ve organized them into 3 levels, beginner, intermediate, and intermediate/native podcasts.
These levels are subjective and should be used as a general guide to your learning. For example, I was listening to podcasts that are deemed “native” as a beginner, and even though I didn’t understand much, the host had a beautiful voice and it was a great way to immerse myself in the sounds of the language and slowly build comprehension.
I recommend trying to listen to many different podcasts and see what you gravitate to and don’t be afraid to listen to harder podcasts while you learn beginner material.
Let’s get started!
Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese
Duration: 10-15 minutes
Although this is technically an audio course, I’ve included this because it essentially functions as a podcast and this is the first type of Chinese audio that I regularly listened to. The episodes are structured with lots of repetition of common words suitable for beginners. There is a focus on conversation from the start which is very practical.
Some learners may find it slow but I enjoyed the repetition, especially as a beginner. The vocabulary taught is a bit more formal and there is less coverage of everyday slang. This podcast is the only paid one on this list (not sponsored) but you can usually find it free at your local library or if you look hard enough online.
Duration: 10-15 minutes
This podcast is a casual conversational style dialogue between an English speaker and a native Mandarin speaker breaking down a short and practical audio clip.
I listened to this a lot as a beginner to help me get used to understanding common daily phrases. You only learn a few new words or phrases per episode so the learning is a bit slower than other podcasts.
Duration: 15 minutes
This is a very popular podcast similar to Popup Chinese. A native English and Mandarin speaker breaks down short passages in Chinese with quirky humor and an addictive intro. They move slowly and this is suitable for beginners.
Duration: 60 minutes
This is a very casual and conversational style podcast with an equal mix of English and Mandarin (Taiwanese accent) suitable for beginners.
The hosts are a married couple living in Taiwan and they discuss common everyday topics with quirky humor.
Duration: ~ 20-30 minutes
Similar to Popup Chinese, you get English and Chinese explanations of common phrases with two hosts. They move very slowly and this is suitable for absolute beginners.
Update - Other recommendations by readers:
“I quite like Chinese Track, I think it is good for beginners because there is also space for repeating.”
“Slow Chinese! It’s a podcast done, but at a slower speaking pace (like reading a story book to children.”
Duration: ~60 minutes
This is my favorite podcast for intermediate learners because they discuss very interesting and sometimes controversial topics with humor and wit.
There are three hosts, Richard from Taiwan, Lican from Mainland China and Ben who grew up in Mainland China but is living in Spain. Check out my interview with them here.
Duration: 10-20 minutes
This is a great gateway podcast for those wanting to try more intermediate podcasts because the host speaks clearly and slowly.
The host is from Taiwan and each episode covers a well-researched topic that is practical for Chinese learners interested in Taiwan culture. Check out my interview with her here.
Duration: 40-60 minutes
This is a podcast hosted by two passionate Chinese learners (me and my good friend Tom 😂) and we discuss interesting topics and issues Chinese learners face in Mandarin!
Although we are not native speakers, we are learners just like you so we can relate to your struggles, and many learners like listening to us for motivation and inspiration.
Duration: 5-20 mins
This podcast is hosted by a Chinese teacher and her partner who is also a Chinese learner so it’s a great way to hear what a typical conversation between a native speaker and a learner sounds like. They discuss interesting cultural topics and differences between China and Western countries. It’s also very relaxing to listen to!
Duration: 10-50 mins
This podcast focuses on teaching Mandarin through stories and is good for students who are looking for something more structured and produced.
Every episode has two parts: story (A) and story explanation (B), accompanied by annotated vocabulary and transcript. They speak slowly with lots of repetition and it is suitable for intermediate learners.
Duration: 10-20 mins
This podcast is good for students looking for something more structured and formal. It is hosted by a passionate language teacher and learner who discusses various topics including Chinese culture, customs, idioms, slang, and stories.
Duration: 20-40 mins
This is the podcast that I’ve listened to the most and my favorite podcast on the entire list. It’s also the first podcast I listened to that was not made for language learners.
I started listening to this as a beginner learner, initially not understanding much but as I listened more and more, my comprehension improved significantly.
The hosts are from Taiwan and the theme of their podcast is “adulting”. Each episode is a discussion around topics related to self-development, relationships, communication, career, investing and other “adulting” issues not taught in school.
Not only do I get to learn Chinese through this podcast, but I often find myself in awe of the host’s insight into common struggles in life. Highly recommend.
Duration: 10-20 minutes
This is a great gateway podcast for those who want to try listening to something not made for language learners because the host speaks slowly and clearly.
The host is a native Chinese speaker who immigrated to New Zealand and talks about design, productivity, book reviews, language learning, and travel.
Duration: ～60 minutes
This is the podcast I’ve been listening to the most recently. The host is a Chinese psychologist/therapist and his podcast focuses on intimate relationships.
I love listening to this podcast because the host is often very insightful and provides a unique and intimate glimpse into the Chinese psyche, way of thinking, and struggles that is often difficult to glean from most popular media.
Duration: ~60 mins
This is one of my favorites because it’s a fun and easy podcast to listen to. The hosts are two good girlfriends who use the podcast to catch up weekly and they chat casually about topics like their personal relationships, lifestyle, travel, work, etc. This is great for learning colloquial language.
Duration: 20-60 mins
I really like this podcast. The podcast host has a soothing and relaxing voice to listen to. She speaks slowly and clearly and talks about a variety of topics including social and cultural issues in China, relationships, travel, languages, and much more. Each episode is very insightful and casual and great for learning colloquial speech.
Duration: ~30 mins
This podcast is very well produced like listening to an audiobook or an investigative report. Each episode includes interviews with ordinary people in mainland China who share fascinating stories on various topics.
The content is more challenging but provides native-level listening practice.
I still listen to podcasts regularly as an advanced learner for their convenience and many other benefits.
Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned learner, there is a podcast out there for your level. I wrote about why I think podcasts are the best tool for learning Chinese here.
There are many other great podcasts that I couldn’t cover in this article and I didn’t want to overwhelm you. It’s better to focus on one podcast that you can stick to than a bunch that you never listen to.
But I’d love to hear what your favorite Chinese learning podcasts are. Reply or let me know in the comments below!
There’s a lot more I could share such as how I find podcasts, how I listen to podcasts and shadow the speakers while listening, and build vocabulary. If there is any interest, let me know and I’ll make a post on this.
PS If you want more practical help to level up your Chinese, check these out:
Speaking Course: I show you step by step how I used podcasts and videos to shadow, improve my pronunciation, and speak fluent Chinese in 4 months.
The Language Learner OS: Organize all your notes in one place, track progress, stay more productive, and learn Chinese faster.
I want to make The Mando Press even more useful for you so please reply or leave a comment on topics you want to see in future posts!
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