The Question of Chinese Language Podcasts

Last night while bowling with friends in Taiwan (a random spur of the moment idea for something to do), a tweet came in on my phone from Lingomi asking if anyone knew of a place to download Chinese language radio shows or podcasts. At the time, due to the bowling ball stuck to my hand, I couldn’t reply right away. Though this similar to a question that I have been asking myself since I first started learning Mandarin – “Are there any good Chinese language podcasts?”.

Where can I download Mandarin podcasts?

This question is a subset of the problem that plagues all learners of Mandarin, which is the lack of, or reduced selection of, available content. When compared to languages like English or Japanese, the selection and variation of Mandarin content, specifically targeted towards students of the language, or even native speakers, just doesn’t compare. Anyway, back to the question at hand. There were a couple of replies from Bill Glover and Olle Linge, who suggested TuneIn.com and this thread on Chinese Forums, respectively.

Online Radio

Firstly, TuneIn.com, a website that allows you to listen to radio stations from the country of your choice, seems quite good and well worth checking out if you’re stuck in your home country studying. Here’s the list of stations for Taiwan, for instance.

TuneIn Taiwanese Radio Stations

Not bad if you want to listen to music, but how about downloadable discussion based podcasts?

News and Current Affairs Podcasts

There were some good suggestions in the Chinese Forums thread, but a lot of them seem to have been discontinued or are heavily focused on current affairs, which can become boring very quickly. Some of the best podcasts from the thread are Princess Remi (黑米公主) which hasn’t been updated in a few months, and then the Deutsche Welle (德國之聲) and BBC Chinese podcasts, though these are both current affairs podcasts. There’s also Bookast, though the DRM is so restrictive I was hesitant to even mention it.

It’s clear that there’s not really a huge selection of Chinese language podcasts that cover things other than current affairs (unless you know something I don’t, in which case please post a comment below and share what you’ve found!). I think Strawberries513 puts it nicely in this reply from the above thread:

I am in search of a native Chinese podcast (as in, made for and by Chinese) that are:

NOT news
NOT economics, politics, international affairs, etc.

I’m still a teenager, and so Im looking for podcasts that talk about things like dating, fashion, music, highschool, daily life, etc. ANYTHING BUT NEWS. If anyone could help me out I would appreciate it.

Whether a teenager or not I am sure that most of us Chinese learners can agree, we want some more diverse and interesting content that is not news or current affairs. Well, obviously it depends what your interests are. If current affairs is what you’re after then you’ve hit the jackpot and are probably off listening to a podcast instead of reading this post.

How about niche content?

If your interest is a niche then it’s unlikely you’ll find content to meet your needs, but it’s a shame at least the basic topics don’t get more coverage. My interests are technology, the web, some business, and generally geeky topics, which at various times during my Mandarin studies have been covered in podcast form – in a previous post I have mentioned Shou3 (說三), Push Reporter and Framebox Studios all of which have either ceased production or are on hiatus, a real shame.

Also, as I mentioned above, everyone’s taste is different, so it’s difficult to make a suggestion that will suit all needs. Luckily though, I have one video podcast to recommend that should go at least some way to achieving this.

How Easy 好簡單 Video Podcast

How Easy (好簡單) is a Taiwanese video production and marketing company that also produces video podcasts on Youtube.

How Easy Video Podcast

So why do I like this video podcast so much? It’s because it covers topics that range from popular Taiwanese/Chinese language culture, but at the same time has a geeky edge to it. Check out a few of these videos to see what I mean:

The 10 questions women ask that scare guys the most
男人最怕女人問的10句話(男人最怕女人问的10句话 nánrén zuì pà nǚrén wèn de 10 jùhuà)

A topic that should interest both men and women alike, and should be useful to either sex when studying or travelling around Taiwan or China.

Easy to use series – Android 3.0 Apps
Android 3.0 輕鬆上手系列之應用程式篇 (Android 3.0 轻松上手系列之应用程式篇 Android 3.0 qīngsōng shàngshǒu xìliè zhī yìngyòng chéngshì piān)

Now back to a more geeky video that introduces Android Marketplace on tablets using Android 3.0. There are lots of these mini reviews and tech-related help videos.

Ten super-effective secret ways to get someone out of bed
十種超有效叫人起床秘笈(十种超有效叫人起床秘笈 shí zhǒng chāo yǒuxiào jiào rén qǐchuáng mìjí)

With any luck you’ll be able to find a few videos in the How Easy library on Youtube that you find interesting. Plus the newer videos also feature subtitles – just press the CC button in the Youtube player. There is one caveat – being that these videos are hosted on Youtube means if you’re in mainland China then you won’t be able to watch them so easily. I tried to find them elsewhere without much luck, but let us know if you find them hosted somewhere that is accessible in China.

Now here comes the mandatory question for all posts! If I’ve missed something in this post, namely any mor e decent podcasts, then make a comment below and let us know. No matter what your interest is, even if it’s news and current affairs, post a link to your favourite podcast below so we can all check it out.

  • I listen almost exclusively to RTI (Radio Taiwan International). They offer a wide variety of programs, so you’ll hear everything, including gardening, singing, movies, travel, health, news, lanugage, education, etc.

    Live stream here.
    List of programs here.

    • @Olle good point, RTI does have some good stuff. Plus I just realised all of their news articles have an accompanying MP3 so you can listen while you read!

      • 真的假的? I feel incredibly stupid. I didn’t know that. 🙂

        I don’t know what you think, but I find the RTI news broadcasts quite difficult. I do understand most of them, but if I want to understand them fully, I need to listen more than once. It’s probably a combination of fairly formal language and the relatively high speed. Still, since it’s easy to stream, I have RTI on autostart and listen perhaps six hours a day. Excellent stuff!

        • The problem I have, with English or Chinese, is that if I’m not interested in the subject then I just turn off/zone out. Though I’ll give RTI a try and see how it goes.

          I’ve just been on iTunes having a look around, and not much seems to have changed since the last time I looked. There is a ton of content from Hong Kong that is in Cantonese, but nowhere near as much in Mandarin.

  • I am still early in my learning the language and have tried many different pod casts but I have Popup Chinese is current and entertaining for learning. It has by far, been my favorite as a beginner.

  • on the Tunein Android app, choose By language, Chinese, Talk and there are quite a few choices. all a bit beyond me at this stage.

  • For Cantonese, I’ve found CantoneseClass101.com to be pretty good. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good and not too far from what Chinese Pod is.

  • LeeHunter

    The pro version of the Tunein Android app also allows you to record what you’re hearing. Unfortunately it doesn’t give you the option of recording specific programs (like a vcr) but it’s still worth a few extra dollars. I mostly listen to Shanghai ERC Story Radio and Beijing Literature Radio.

  • I appreciate the post.

    Unfortunately I can’t access RTI (GFW). I did some more searching and found
    this site:

    http://52podcast.com/chinese-podcasts-list.html

    It’s semi-regularly updated. But so far, most of the podcasts aren’t what I’m looking for. Too many are slow monologues where the person podcast is 太抒情. I’m basically looking for a podcast with 3+ people talking about a subject that I find interesting.

    I’ll keep looking.

    • That is exactly what I am looking for, too. A podcast with discussion and analysis of a topic that I find interesting. I mentioned in a comment above that RTI provides MP3 recordings of their news stories, but the problem with this is that the language is often formal and as a text is being read it’s not natural speech.

      • This won’t help Steven because of GFW, but RTI has lots of programs like this. Admittedly, they are mostly two persons discussing a topic, but it’s not unusual with three. Very few are monologues. If you’re into more serious stuff, check the 為人民服務, where the host interviews someone and talk about a topic related to the guest. The topics can be considered ploticially sensitive at times.

        There are many other programs like this and using interviews seems to be very comomn. The topics include almost anything you’d expect to hear on a national radio station (culture, travel, sports, health, etc.)

        I realise that I’m sounding like RTI is paying me to do this, but alas, they are not. I just really appreciate the radio station and it’s helped immensely both with improving my listening ability and understanding Taiwanese/Chinese culture.

  • This is such awesome stuff Dave! To think that I used to be getting by on VoA (Voice of Amercia)…

    • VOA… ugh. I can’t believe my tax dollars pay for that.

  • Pingback: Mandarin Learner: Best of the Web for January 13th through January 15th | Bill (葛威)()

  • COLOR

    酷哦!

  • Another really good one is 锵锵三人行. You can get video, audio and transcripts for every episode, and it talks about a range of topics concerning the greater China area and has guests with a variety of accents from all over China.

  • Ian Chen

    There is a very interesting and popular Chinese podcast targets teenager students called 青春愛消遣
    The two DJs are college students in Taiwan, they talk about funny news, school life, movies, and some topics that are closer to teenagers in an amusing way!

    English introduction http://www.chinesepodcasts.com/chinese-language-podcasts/taiwan-talk-show-podcast/
    青春愛消遣’s Website http://youngloveplay.blogspot.com

  • Ian Chen
  • This place seems to have an interesting selection – the Douban ‘podcast’ station. First time I’ve gone though – so might not renew often. Also, haven’t yet figured how to download them, but I’m onto it :-p.

    http://site.douban.com/podcast/

  • Pingback: Skeptoid Chinese Language Podcast | Chinese Hacks()