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?
— lingomi (@lingomi) January 14, 2012
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.
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.
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 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
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.