Podcasts are my favorite way to consume content. If you’re anything like me, you’ve subscribed to a number of awesome podcasts that inform, teach and entertain. But what about learning Chinese? Are there good podcasts to learn Chinese?
Listening to the Chinese language as you’re trying to learn is as important as writing, reading, and speaking in that language.
It takes time to learn Chinese, but the more that you can immerse yourself in the language in your day-to-day life, the better.
In addition to TV shows, music, and movies, listening to Chinese podcasts is another great way to familiarize yourself with the language. Personally, I listen to a number of them, and I’m going to be sharing with you my favorite podcasts to learn Chinese.
Most of these podcasts are free, but some are part of a premium learning package. And if you want to think about more than just podcasts, check out our comprehensive guide to all of the best tools for learning Chinese online.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will be compensated if you decide to use some of these tools.
ChinesePod | Recommended Podcast (& Discount Code)
The ChinesePod podcast, first started in 2005, is one of the longest running language podcasts available. They have literally thousands of archived podcasts that are excellent ways of learning new words and phrases from native Chinese speakers.
ChinesePod is well known for their lessons which include:
- Native Chinese & Native English speakers together;
- Well-written and well-produced dialogues that are relevant and fun;
- Vocabulary sheets, lesson downloads, & more (subscription required);
ChinesePod is great for beginners, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using all of the intermediate and advanced lessons.
ChinesePod follows the “freemium” model, which means that you can download the free beginner ChinesePod podcasts on iTunes but if you want access to the full lessons or intermediate/advanced levels, you’ll need to subscribe to the ChinesePod service.
You Can Learn Chinese Podcast
Before we get deeper into the other podcasts that are actually teaching Chinese, I’d like to bring your attention to a podcast that helps you learn Chinese.
There is a difference.
Hosted by John Pasden (former host at ChinesePod) and Jared Turner (co-creator of the Mandarin Companion series), this is a podcast that gives you tips and advice on how to master the Chinese language as well as interviews with other language learners to hear how they did it.
The podcast itself isn’t in Chinese and they aren’t teaching you vocabulary or sentence structure. Instead, it’s a podcast about the process of learning Chinese.
It’s a fairly new podcast (January 2019), and it’s already one that I’ve enjoyed and am excited to see more growth this coming year.
Melnyks Podcast (Beginner- Advanced)
Melnyks is another excellent podcasts out there for learning Chinese. They have over 275 Mandarin lessons, which are easy to follow and are progressive, which means that they each build on each other.
The podcasts are better suited for intermediate and advanced Chinese learners and are organized by topic. However, you must download transcripts to read grammar and translation notes separately.
The only downside to using Melnyks is that it is a set course of 275-ish lessons, as opposed to a constantly growing library of podcasts (such as ChinesePod above).
You can download a free set of 25 podcasts on iTunes to try it out, but if you want access to the entire library of lessons, it will cost you a little less than $100 per year.
Slow Chinese Podcast (Intermediate & Advanced)
The Slow Chinese podcasts discuss daily life in China. They offer short, 10-minute lessons, where students talk (using a slower tempo) about a variety of topics related to life in China.
This provides you an opportunity to learn about Chinese culture at the same time as polishing your language listening skills.
Best of all…
Take note: Slow Chinese is NOT a lesson-based podcast. There is no English translation and although the transcript is available in the podcast notes, you can’t download it.
It’s for this reason that I only recommend this podcast for upper-intermediate and advanced Chinese listeners.
The Pastimes of Youth Podcast
The Pastimes of Youth podcasts are good for beginners and intermediate learners. The topics mainly involve daily life issues themes, which is good because it doesn’t feel like you’re learning. They’re mainly conversations between friends, and target a younger, less formal audience.
As in Slow Chinese, this Pastimes of Youth podcast is not a lesson-based podcast meant to teach Chinese. Rather, it is a fun, comical podcast in the Chinese language that is useful for learning.
In order to find this podcast, you’ll either have to search using the characters 青春愛消遣 or you can just visit the iTunes page on using the button below.
FluentU – Shows, Music Videos and Audio Lessons
FluentU isn’t a typical Chinese podcast, but it comes with TV shows, music videos, commercials, and talks, all in Chinese, and all great for learning listening to Chinese. These are extremely helpful for beginner speakers to native speakers.
FluentU offers interactive captions and turns videos into lessons. One of the greatest parts is that it’s completely personalized, in that it keeps track of your own personal vocabulary growth.
You can easily download the FluentU app on the app store (you won’t find any podcasts directly in the podcast app), but it’s usually best to just check out their website directly. Plans start at $10 per month and are worth checking out.
Final Thoughts on the Best Chinese Podcasts
There you have it – my recommendations for the best podcasts to learn Chinese.
Listening to podcasts ranging anywhere from inspiring talks, casual conversations, and rehearsed speeches, will help enhance your Chinese language vocabulary immensely. With continuous practice, your Chinese listening skills will make rapid improvement in no time!
I also suggest you look through my suggestions for the best tools to learn to read Chinese. This is an important skill that most people put to the side!
Kevin Peters says
What about PopupChinese? I heard that is also a great podcast that compares well to ChinesePod. Have you used it before?
Josh Summers says
I haven’t used it personally, Kevin. Thanks for sharing it, though – I’ll go check it out!
Here is a coupon code for 25% off a yearly subscription on melnyks.com to learn chinese in a podcast format: ESP2WH8B