Top 10 Chinese Podcasts to Improve Your Listening Skill

Francesca Rossi is an experienced writer currently focused on researching and writing articles. She studied languages in Italy and in the USA, her works include English-Italian and Chinese-Italian translations as well as content creation and creative writing for different blogs and websites. She is currently based in Europe.
Francesca Rossi

Understanding people talk when you’re learning a foreign language is a crucial step to become fluent, however, this skill requires some time to improve and perfect. In order to easily understand what a person is saying in Chinese, you’re going to need to exercise your listening quite a bit and even a few minutes per day of listening comprehension can really make the difference.

Getting a hang of Chinese tones and pronunciation can become a bit easier if you make a habit of listening to native people talk about different topics and, needless to say, your vocabulary will improve as well, but what is one of the most fun and interesting ways to exercise your listening? The answer is Chinese podcasts.

 

Podcasts and Their Benefits in Learning Chinese

Technically speaking, a podcast is a spoken word digital audio file that can basically be about anything of interest. Nowadays there are podcasts in nearly every language and, if you’re looking to improve your listening comprehension, they are definitely a useful tool to have under your belt.

Let’s start by covering the main benefits of using podcasts to exercise your Chinese skills:

  •   Through podcasts, you’ll almost certainly find topics that interest you and that engage you more than the ones found in textbooks.
  •   Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to at any time of the day, even when you’re taking a walk or doing the dishes.
  •   Listening to podcasts is often free of costs. 

 

How to Choose the Right Chinese Podcasts

On the Internet, you can find dozens of Chinese podcasts, however, before settling on a specific one, you should consider your choice carefully. Here are some pointers on the main factors you should think about before picking a podcast:

  •   Choose one that suits your Chinese level: A podcast shouldn’t be too difficult, otherwise you’ll probably get frustrated and won’t pick up as much as you would like, but it also shouldn’t be too easy, or you won’t be pushed to advance and improve.
  •   Avoid dialects, local slang, or heavy accents: When trying to learn a foreign language, slang, dialects or heavy accents can confuse you quite a lot, therefore it’d be better to choose generic podcasts that avoid those features.
  •   Subtitles or transcripts: If you’ve just started taking the first steps in learning Chinese, listening to podcasts that include subtitles or transcripts can make the difference as they can really help you pick up more words and tones.

 

Top 10 Chinese Podcasts: Our Review

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to actually suggesting and reviewing what we think might be the top 10 best podcasts to improve your Chinese listening skills basing on your current language level.

Beginner-Level Podcasts

»Takeaway Chinese 

How often are the podcasts updated: every week

Length of the podcast: 25 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

This podcast is perfect if your Chinese level falls somewhere between beginner and low-intermediate. Every week, Takeaway Chinese releases new episodes that are about 25 minutes long each and the hosts make sure to explain word meanings, idioms, and expressions that can be confusing to those who are just starting to learn Mandarin.  Most of the time, the podcast covers topics such as general Chinese culture, which are always interesting to listen to other than helping you deepen your understanding of China and Chinese people, as well as everyday language that you’ll find quite useful when visiting China.

Where to listen and subscribe?   

Google podcasts   

Soundcloud

› Apple podcast

All apps to subscribe:

»Mandarin Monkey

How often are the podcasts updated: 1 or 2 episode a week

Length of the podcast: 60 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

Mandarin Monkey’s most interesting characteristic is that it features both a native Chinese speaker host and an English speaker host that talk in equal proportions, making it easier for a beginner to keep track of what’s going on in the lesson.

The tone is always lighthearted, and the episodes focus on a variety of different topics with the intention of keeping the listeners interested and engaged.

More often than not, the podcasts heavily use repetition to help beginners practice their pronunciation by mimicking the sound of the host’s words and sentences.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Google podcasts 

Soundcloud 

Tune In 

› Spotify

› Apple podcast

»Melnyks

How often are the podcasts updated: 267 episodes in total, but not update anymore

Length of the podcast20 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

One of the best things about Melnyks is that it already has 100 Chinese episodes available for beginner-level foreign students. In this case, the host Serge Melnyk has studied Mandarin Chinese for over 25 years and spent 17 years in China. The other two hosts are native Chinese speakers from Beijing and Taiwan. They help listeners with their vocabulary and tones by repeating the same words multiple times before moving on to full phrases.

Besides the 100 free episodes on Google Podcasts, you can access their full lessons, which are 276 lessons, if you sign up on their official website. The best thing is they also provide transcripts and worksheets for each episode. However, as you may have noticed, this resource mainly focuses on words and simple sentences, intermediate learners may find it not that interesting, especially for the first 10 pieces.  For a complete beginner, however, it is very helpful to start from the very beginning.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Melnyks.com  

Google podcasts   

Tune In

› Apple podcast

 

Intermediate-Level Podcasts

»Learn Mandarin Now

How often are the podcasts updated: 235 episodes in total. The latest update was on 2 May 2017.

Length of the podcast: 10 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

‘Learn Mandarin Now’ is a podcast that features more than 200 intermediate-level lessons, all of which are between seven to eight minutes long.

This podcast focuses on dialogues; during the first few minutes of each lesson, the hosts will introduce the most important words you’ll find in the dialogue, afterward, the users will listen to the actual dialogue twice, and lastly, the hosts will go through each and every line to explain both the words and the phrases featured in the episode.

Most of the lessons are set at an intermediate difficulty level, however, the downside is that in the long run, it’ll be hard to find new content.

Where to listen and subscribe?

› Tune In

› Podyssey

› Podbean

› Listen notes

»Slow Chinese

How often are the podcasts updated: 224 episodes in total. The latest update was on 13 August 2018.

Length of the podcast: 5 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

‘Slow Chinese’ is a completely free podcast service with over 200 lessons already available, each lasting around three to five minutes. One of the main characteristics that set this podcast aside from the others is that here the host speaks at a considerably slower pace, meaning that following along won’t be as difficult, especially if your listening skill still needs some work. Moreover, all the transcripts and translations in different languages are available online.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Soundcloud

› Podbean

› Internet Archive

› Apple podcast

»Learning Chinese Through Stories

How often are the podcasts updated: 229 episodes in total. The latest update was on 23 February 2021.

Length of the podcast: 20 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

As the title of the podcast suggests, here users will get the chance to improve their Chinese skills by listening to different stories. The length of the single episode varies based on the story, some lessons are only a few minutes long, while others can last for over twenty minutes. Although the hosts will often stop the storytelling to explain the meaning of certain words or sentences, unlike most of the other podcasts we mentioned in our guide, this one doesn’t feature any subtitles or transcriptions, therefore it’s more suited for individuals who have an intermediate or a higher level of Chinese listening comprehension.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Google podcasts

› Soundcloud

› Podbean

› Apple podcast

 

Advanced-Level Podcasts

»365读书 (dú shū)

How often are the podcasts updated: every day

Length of the podcast: 15 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

If you happen to love reading, you might find 365读书 quite interesting. In the 10 to 30 minutes long lessons, the host will focus on meaningful articles written by famous writers, both from China and from all over the world. The topics we can often find are about literature, society, and relationships, and the host speaks at a slow pace with clear pronunciation and a Southern Chinese accent. All throughout the episode, soft music will play in the background and, close to the end, a song will play to end the podcast session.

Due to the difficulty of the topics at hand, this podcast is recommended for those who have an advanced Chinese level.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Google podcasts

喜马拉雅 (Himalaya)

Listen notes

› Apple podcast

»品读论语 (pǐn dú lún yǔ)

How often are the podcasts updated: Update from time to time

Length of the podcast: 30 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

This advanced level podcast is perfect if you wish to know more about traditional Chinese culture and values. More specifically, the episodes present Chinese traditional culture and history through quotations taken from Confucius’ ‘The Analects’. The main host is a woman that speaks at a normal pace with a sweet voice, and during each lesson, there’ll always be a different guest that’ll interact with her and talk about the meaning of the chosen citation.

The length of the sessions goes from 20 to 30 minutes and if you find Chinese culture and philosophy interesting, then you might want to take a look at this podcast.

Where to listen and subscribe?

› Google podcasts

› Player FM

› 喜马拉雅 (Himalaya)

› Apple podcast

»罗辑思维(luó jí sī wéi)

How often are the podcasts updated: Daily update from Monday to Friday

Length of the podcast: 50 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

This is an advanced-level Chinese podcast that basically covers a lot of different topics, from history to economics. These episodes are quite long since they often last from 40 minutes to 1 hour, and, during each session, the male host will analyze different issues in a professional and profound way. Furthermore, the podcast focuses on China, as well as comparing it to America or other countries, therefore, you’ll be able to get to know more about different parts of the world.

As a last note, remember that this podcast requires advanced-level Chinese listening skills, otherwise, it could be quite hard to fully understand what the host is saying.

Where to listen and subscribe?

› Google podcasts

YouTube

› 喜马拉雅 (Himalaya)

› 得到 (iget)

»吃货老吴(chī huò lǎo wú)

How often are the podcasts updated: 103 episodes in total. The latest update was on 10 March 2020.

Length of the podcast: 30 minutes per episode

Description of the podcast:

The last podcast we’re going to introduce focuses on different types of foods and cuisines from all over the world. The episodes are divided into two series, the first one is entirely about foods, while the second one talks about some of the experiences the host had while traveling.

The length of each podcast session can go from 15 to 35 minutes. In terms of speed and pronunciation, the host speaks clearly and at a normal pace. Moreover, in some lessons, he will invite different guests to talk about a specific kind of food or cuisine. In other words, this podcast is a fun way to discover traditional food from all over the world.

Where to listen and subscribe?

Google podcasts

› 喜马拉雅 (Himalaya)

› Podtail

› Apple podcast

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