Improving your listening comprehension is one of the most important things you can do while learning Mandarin.
The reason is pretty obvious.
If you don’t understand what people are saying, how are you going to communicate with anyone?
Luckily, improving your listening comprehension isn’t terribly difficult. There are some excellent podcasts that can help you out.
Similar to studying with apps, it’s usually quite easy to find some free time to listen to a podcast.
When working on your listening skills, you need to find materials that fit your level. If you only listen to materials that are too challenging, you’ll likely get frustrated and not pick up much. On the other hand, listening to materials that are too easy, won’t push you to improve as quickly as you can.
In this article, we’re going to look at a variety of podcasts, both free and paid, that can help you improve your Mandarin listening comprehension.
At the end of this post, I’ll share some other podcasts related to language learning and China that you may find interesting.
The Du Chinese app is quite possibly the best designed Chinese learning app around. I don’t know if it’s the best app overall to learn Chinese but the developers really did an outstanding job. In this review, I’ll tell you more about Du Chinese and help you decide whether or not it’s worth the subscription cost.
First off, I just have to reiterate how smooth and well made this app is. It’s about as sexy as a Chinese learning app can be. It packs all of the features I would want into a clean interface that can be customized to fit your preferences.
Across the top of the screen is the English translation of the currently highlighted sentence. I love that you can tap it to show or hide the translation. If it always showed the English, I’d likely feel it was a crutch and use it too much. However, without it, there would be instances where I’m not certain I understood the sentence correctly. I like hiding the English and then using it to check comprehension later if I’m confused about something.
ChinesePod is one of the resources most often recommended to Mandarin learners for good reason. Improving your listening skills may be the most important skill to becoming fluent in Chinese. After all, being able to speak isn’t particularly helpful if you have no idea what the conversation is about.
This review will look at both the Basic and Premium plans. The Basic Plan is more fitting for people who just want to listen to audio podcasts and be able to check the lesson notes. The Premium Plan is better suited for people looking to study each lesson very in-depth. This is for people looking for a resource that can cover other areas besides just listening.
ChinesePod been around longer than a decade and the lesson library has become massive. It’s not a perfect all-encompassing resource but it’s probably as close you can get.
Despite living in China and spending a lot of time studying Chinese, I felt that my speaking ability lagged behind my listening and reading skills. The reason is simple. I spent far more time practicing listening and reading.
While I could have basic conversations – I didn’t have much cadence or confidence in my spoken Chinese. I was often in my head trying to figure out the tones and felt like I was always stumbling over my word choice. My decision to hold off on working on my spoken Chinese was partially a conscious decision as well. I put more emphasis on my listening skills because I felt like being able to understand what was said was more important than being able to speak well.
The other part of it was just a byproduct of my personality and habits. I’m very introverted. Even in English, I spend more time listening and reading compared to speaking. This personality trait transferred to my studying. I would listen to Chinesepod (my review) or read news articles on The Chairman’s Bao (my review) on my way to work and in my free time. Once a week, I would have an hour long conversational class with a tutor from Italki (my review).
The vast majority of my Chinese studying time wasn’t going towards learning how to speak – and it showed.
That’s when I decided to try Glossika.