chinese podcasts

Mandarin on the Go: 17 Awesome Chinese Podcasts in 2022 You’ve Never Heard Of

Mandarin Chinese language podcasts could be a great way to improve your Chinese listening skills, especially if you often have to ask native speakers to repeat what they said until you understand.

Instead of spending most of our time on the usual suspects (e.g., ChinesePod and Popup Chinese), I’m going to introduce some other options for Chinese podcasts that you might not have heard of.

These are native language podcasts, which could be perfect for you if you’ve reached a plateau in your learning and want to improve.

Contents

Everyday Life Podcasts 

1. Best for Taiwanese Culture: 青春愛消遣 — The Pastimes of Youth

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: qīng chūn ài xiāo qiǎn

Podcast difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 與王小姐談心 (yǔ wáng xiǎo jiě tán xīn) — Talking with Ms. Wong
  • 青春藤解析英語 (qīng chūn téng jiě xī yīng yǔ) — Youths Dissecting English
  • 青春萊塢: 猜猜是哪部電影 (qīng chūn lái wù: cāi cāi shì nǎ bù diàn yǐng) — Youth-lywood: Guess the Film

What it’s about: 

One thing I love about Taiwanese talk shows is that they’re always very relaxing—it almost seems like dropping in on a conversation between friends, so it always gives you a homely feel… great for a weekend listening session to learn Chinese through podcasts… and to relax!!

Typical of Taiwanese talk show hosts, this podcast is brought to audiences in a very conversational tone. It’s also targeted at a younger audience, so the dialogue is a lot less formal, and a lot easier to listen to.

Started by two college students, this show is pretty popular in Taiwan, and it basically talks about life issues from the eyes of younger people, so you can really see how Taiwanese people live their daily lives, their cultural values, beliefs and such.

So if you’re interested in seeing Taiwan through the eyes of youngsters, this is definitely the show for you!

2. Best for College Life in Mainland China: 慢速中文 — Slow Chinese

chinese-podcast-5-slow-chinese

Title in pinyin: màn sù zhōng wén

Podcast difficulty: Upper-intermediate to advanced

Materials: Transcripts

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 豆漿和油條 (dòu jiāng hé yóu tiáo) — Soy Milk and Deep-fried Breadsticks
  • 中國好聲音 (zhōng guó hǎo shēng yīn) — The Voice of China 
  • 古箏 (gǔ zhēng) — GuZheng (A Chinese Musical Instrument)

What it’s about: 

Slow Chinese is a relatively new show, and it’s also pretty unique. It’s created by Chinese college students, and basically, these students talk about a snippet of what it’s like to live in China, often in short sessions under 10 minutes.

The most unique aspect of Slow Chinese is that it’s designed to be spoken out loud slowly, so even if the content is a bit more advanced than you’re used to, it’s much easier to make out the individual words because of the slower speed!

I think that in terms of learning materials, it’s not the most well-equipped on the list, but in terms of podcast material, it can be interesting—these are genuine snippets of what life is like through the eyes of college students, so you can count on it that you’re not just going to learn new words, you’re also going to hear some unique stuff about Chinese culture from a native’s perspective!

The content isn’t exhaustive, but you can get a glimpse into China through Slow Chinese, and I highly recommend it for people who are at an intermediate level to really polish their listening skills here.

3. Best for Life Stories: 發發大王 — King Fafa

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: fā fā dà wáng

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 06期 – 西安 (06 qī – xī’ān) — Xi’an
  • 34期 – 夏日蟲趣 (34 qī – xià rì chóng qù) — Episode 34: Summer Bugs
  • 97期 – 看天吃飯的人 (97 qī – kàn tiān chī fàn de rén) — Episode 97: The Man Who Makes His Living by Watching the Sky

What it’s about: 

To truly see how native speakers live their day-to-day, 發發大王 is for you. This channel has a whole collection of stories of people of all ages and all walks of life, living in and out of China.

Before diving into this one, note that these podcasts are quite lengthy, with some lasting just under two hours. For that reason, it’s better to save this channel when you have a stronger command of Mandarin.

The hosts are also from Beijing and tend to speak a little faster with regional slang, which will be difficult to understand if you’re not at least at the intermediate stage.

Unless you’re an advanced learner, I suggest that you break these episodes up into digestible chunks. There’s a lot to pick up from each episode in terms of both language and culture, so you really don’t want to miss anything.

They upload a new episode every Thursday, which you can listen to bits of throughout the week until the next one comes.

News Podcasts 

4. Best for Mainland Chinese Politics: 新浪視頻 — Sina Videos

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: xīn làng shì pín

Podcast difficulty: Advanced

Materials: Video subtitles 

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 女局長用假證與男子結婚同居 (nǚ jú zhǎng yòng jiǎ zhèng yǔ nán zǐ jié hūn tóng jū) — Female Police Chief Uses a Fake ID to Marry a Man and Live with Him
  • 男子劫人質 特警一槍將其擊倒 (nán zǐ jié rén zhì tè jǐng yī qiāng jiāng qí jī dǎo) — A Man Takes Hostages, a Special Officer Takes Him Down with a Single Shot
  • 中國需提防個別國家搞偷襲 (zhōng guó xū dī fang gè bié guó jiā gǎo tōu xí) — China Needs to Take Preventive Measures to Fend off Surprise Attacks from Individual Countries

What it’s about: 

Sina is one of China’s largest websites, and it’s also within the top 25 most visited websites in the world. Think of it as the Chinese NYT, except its operations cover a whole lot more than just news! But if you’re looking for more news and current affairs podcasts, this is definitely the way to go.

Sina podcasts cover a huge variety of topics, and there are almost 20 clips added daily.

However, be forewarned—this isn’t the easiest Chinese podcast to listen to! Because it’s a native Chinese show, it’s not designed to be used as Chinese learning material, so what’s said on screen is what native Chinese people hear, which doesn’t sound tough, but add on the non-Beijing accents used by some TV anchors, it can be a real challenge!

So, yes… that means you’ll have to slowly attune yourself to listen to a wide variety of accents… even from reporters!

If I had to recommend how to use it, I’d say you can treat it as a daily practice session to improve your listening flexibility, but I wouldn’t advocate it as a way to learn vocabulary (the topics are way too varied, not to mention way too dry for my tastes!).

5. Best for Short News Clips: BBC 中文 — BBC Chinese

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: zhōng wén

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: Video subtitles 

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 從小因智力障礙被欺凌,如今她已贏得3面奧運獎牌 (cóng xiǎo yīn zhì lì zhàng ài bèi qī líng, rú jīn tā yǐ yíng dé 3 miàn ào yùn jiǎng pái) — She was bullied for mental retardation since she was a kid, and now she has won 3 Olympic medals
  • 金藝林Lim Kim:以K-pop打破東方女性的刻板印象 (jīn yì lín Lim Kim: yǐ K-pop dǎpò dōng fāng nǚxìng de kèbǎn yìnxiàng) — Lim Kim: Breaking the stereotype of oriental women in K-pop
  • 歐洲遭遇熱浪襲擊 多國山火肆虐 (ōu zhōu zāo yù rè làng xí jī duō guó shān huǒ sì nuè) — Europe hit by heat wave, wildfires raging in many countries 

What it’s about: 

Prefer to listen to or watch the news? BBC 中文 is great for catching up with current affairs in Chinese.

The news can be a pretty heavy subject with way too much journalistic jargon that may be overwhelming for Chinese learners. Thankfully, most clips on this channel range between two to five minutes, which makes each clip easier to digest and much more approachable for intermediate listeners!

This channel might not be as engaging as the other Chinese learning podcasts on this list; however, it’s important to see Mandarin in different settings. This allows you to compare the formal language of reporters with the casual speech of talk show hosts. And the channel offers more than just political coverage, as you might have noticed in the example lessons mentioned above.

If the clips are a bit difficult to follow, try finding related articles in English. Having this background information will definitely help you understand what’s being said in the videos.

6. Best for Storytelling: 環球故事會 — Stories Across the Globe

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: huán qiú gù shì huì

Podcast difficulty: Advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • Uber創始人卡拉尼克:偉大創業者的8個特質 (Uber chuàng shǐ rén kǎlā ní kè: wěi dà chuàng yè zhě de 8 gè tè zhì) — Uber Founder Kalanick: 8 Traits of Great Entrepreneurs
  • 王要飛:31歲的焊接大王,竟然是這樣煉成的!(上)(wáng yào fēi:31 suì de hàn jiē dà wáng, jìng rán shì zhè yàng liàn chéng de! [shàng]) — Wang Yaofei: This Is How the 31-Year-old Welding King Was Made! (Part 1)
  • “漢字叔叔”理查德·西爾斯的故事 (“hàn zì shū shu” lǐ chá dé·xī ěr sī de gù shì) — “Uncle Hanzi” – The Story of Richard Sears

What it’s about: 

If news-style podcasts in Chinese are your cup of tea, give this broadcasting program a shot.

環球故事會 delves into the backstory of renowned names and other subjects covered in mainstream media. Though rather than just spitting out facts, the host acts sort of like a storyteller, making the content more approachable compared to standard news channels.

The host is quite the dynamic narrator, which can help you with perfecting your accent.

Each episode is about 45 minutes. But given the formal subject matter and that the podcast is entirely in Mandarin, this one is really only suited for advanced learners who are comfortable talking about history, politics and current affairs in Chinese.

I will say though that the host speaks at a slow enough pace for intermediates who are up for a challenge.

Learning Chinese Podcasts 

7. Best for Listening Comprehension: 聽故事學中文 — Learning Chinese through Stories

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: tīng gù shi xué zhōng wén

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: Transcripts

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 《三個女人一台戲:三十而已的三位女主》(sān gè nǚrén yì tái xì: sān shí ér yǐ de sān wèi nǚ zhǔ) — Three Women in One Play: Three Heroines in “Nothing but Thirty”
  • 《大頭兒子小頭爸爸》(dà tóu ér zi xiǎo tóu bà ba) — Big Head Son, Little Head Dad
  • 《醜小鴨》(chǒu xiǎoyā) — The Ugly Duckling

What it’s about: 

Stories are some of the best ways to be entertained and to learn at the same time, and this podcast delivers in both those respects.

As the name of this podcast describes, it uses short stories to teach Chinese. Each story and podcast ranges from a couple of minutes to around 20 minutes. These stories and their explanations are completely in Chinese, so I’d recommend a pretty solid level (think intermediate level) in order to get the most out of this podcast. In theory, you should be comfortable with little or no English support.

For each story, the host breaks down the stories for themes and comprehension and explains them in careful Chinese. There are some grammar lessons released in addition to stories, and new stories are uploaded regularly.

8. Best for Podcast-Style Lessons: MandarinBean

chinese podcasts

Podcast difficulty: Beginner to advanced

Materials: Transcripts, pinyin, notes, translations

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 中國古代的重要發明 (zhōng guó gǔ dài de zhòng yào fā míng) — Important Inventions In Ancient China
  • 南北之爭 (nán běi zhī zhēng) — The Dispute Between Southerners and Northerners
  • 動車上結婚 (dòng chē shàng jié hūn) — Getting Married on the High-Speed Train

What it’s about: 

Wouldn’t it be nice if a podcast evolved with you as your level of Chinese improved? Look no further!

MandarinBean is designed as a program rather than a straight podcast. It teaches multiple levels of Chinese (HSK 1-6) all through podcasts. That means that you can use MandarinBean as a beginner Chinese learner and then continue to use the program as you move through the intermediate and advanced learner stages.

While there are a few free lessons, to get the best of MandarinBean, you have to sign up. There’s a monthly subscription fee, but each lesson comes with a transcript, notes and English translation.

Each podcast’s transcript can also be accessed in traditional or simplified characters as well as pinyin. Learners can also adjust the speed of the podcast to be faster or slower.

Chinese Pop Culture Podcasts 

9. Best for Entertainment: 電影不無聊 — No Boring Movies

Title in Pinyin: diàn yǐng bù wú liáo

Podcast difficulty: Advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 迪士尼味兒的花木蘭,香嗎?(dí shì ní wèir de huā mù lán, xiāng ma?) — Is Disney’s “Mulan” Good?
  • 跟著上影節刷片 (gēn zhe shàng yǐng jié shuā piàn) — Follow the Shanghai Film Festival and Update Your Movie List
  • 災難物語(與科幻作家聊科幻)(zāi nàn wù yǔ [yǔ kē huàn zuò jiā liáo kē huàn]) — Disaster Story: Talking About Science Fiction with Science Fiction Writers

What it’s about: 

If you’re a movie buff and enjoy Chinese and Western movies alike, then 電影不無聊 or No Boring Movies pretty much guarantees that you’ll never be bored.

Like previous “talk show” style podcasts, this one is completely in Chinese. Furthermore, it’s hosted by a man and a woman who speak the standard Beijing dialect of Chinese, but their discussions can get quite complex and technical. Because of that, I recommend that learners have a pretty high level (advanced level) of Chinese before listening. It would also be helpful to have seen the movies that the hosts are talking about to help put things into context.

As expected, each podcast features a movie review or discussion about a movie or movie genre. Occasionally, there are interviews or they feature a certain director or actor. The podcasts are quite lengthy, so be prepared to get an in-depth look at the topic.

This podcast is also a great way to learn about Chinese cinema and see what’s popular in Chinese entertainment at any given time.

10. Best for Humor: 不亦樂乎 — What a Joy!

chinese podcasts

Title in Pinyin: bù yì lè hū

Podcast difficulty: Advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 編個瞎話搶個座 (biān gè xiā huà qiǎng gè zuò) — Make Something Up and Grab a Seat
  • 飛天的本事 (fēi tiān de běn shì) — The Ability to Fly
  • 真正的底價 (zhēn zhèng de dǐ jià) — The True Value of Rock Bottom

What it’s about: 

Want to know what everyday life in China is like? See what Chinese people laugh about.

Very few subjects illustrate everyday life better than jokes. This podcast primarily consists of jokes that are submitted by listeners. This is also a great introduction to Chinese pop culture.

The presenter’s accent is pretty close to the standard and he speaks fairly slowly. But that doesn’t mean this is an easy podcast to start out with. It’s actually probably the most difficult on this list! Jokes are a fabulous window into a culture, but also require a certain level of linguistic and cultural knowledge.

There might be plays on words that are hard to get if you’re a Chinese learner, and some jokes won’t make any sense unless you already know the cultural phenomenon they’re referring to. Listeners be warned!

Chinese Reading Podcasts 

11. Best for Book Recommendations: 開卷八分鐘 — Eight Minutes Reading

chinese-podcast-9-eight-minutes-reading

Title in pinyin: kāi juàn bā fēn zhōng

Podcast difficulty: Upper-intermediate to advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 黃金羅盤 (huáng jīn luó pán) — The Golden Compass
  • 摩西五經 (mó xī wǔ jīng) — The Pentateuch
  • 物種起源 (wù zhǒng qǐ yuán) — On the Origin of Species

What it’s about: 

This is another nichey-type Chinese language podcast—it’s a show that was broadcasted on a major Chinese TV network from January 2007 to December 2014, and it’s basically a show where the host talks about book recommendations in short eight-minute snippets (thus the title 開卷“八分鐘”), talking about his thoughts on the book, summarizing it and talking about why he recommends reading it.

If you’re an avid reader and would love to expand your book selection to Chinese work, this is a great way to get a close-up with Chinese books (literature, essays, short stories, etc.) in a more relaxing way, and get good book recommendations to read in the meanwhile.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to read Chinese books nowadays, so I haven’t bought any books recommended by the host yet. But, based on how he describes some of these books, I’d definitely be enticed to check out these books if I had the time, so this show gets my personal thumbs up for great book recommendations!

(Word of caution, though: Reading these books requires a fairly good grasp of Chinese literature, so while anyone can practice their Chinese listening skills with the show, these books aren’t for the faint of heart!)

12. Best for Analyzing Articles: 365讀書 — 365 Reading

chinese-podcasts

Title in pinyin: dú shū

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: None 

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 魯迅: 男人的進化 (lǔ xùn: nán rén de jìn huà) — Lu Xun: The Evolution of Men
  • 知識的敵人不是無知,而是擁有知識的錯覺 (zhī shi de dí rén bú shì wú zhī, ér shì yōng yǒu zhī shi de cuò jué) — The Enemy of Knowledge Isn’t Ignorance, but the Illusion of Possessing Knowledge
  • 莫泊桑:懊惱 (mò bó sāng: ào nǎo) — Guy de Maupassant: La Rue Chagrin

What it’s about:

If you’ve ever taken an advanced/university-level language course, you probably know that some people think language learners need to read tons of literature. You’d think that all those years of talking about your hobbies and vacation plans were only stepping stones on your path to reading 18th-century literature.

I happen to think this focus of many university programs is bogus. But it’s true that reading Chinese literature can enrich your experience of the language and open you up to new vocabulary, expressions and ideas, and it’s a worthy intellectual pursuit. If reading is your thing, then this is the podcast to listen to.

Each episode lasts around 10 to 30 minutes and the podcast is updated daily. Each episode focuses on an article or piece written by a famous writer (often, but not always, a Chinese writer).

Although the male presenter has a slight southern accent, he speaks slowly and clearly, making this a good podcast for intermediate learners who are just starting to listen to native audio.

Niche Podcasts 

13. Best for Technology: 狗熊有話說 — BearTalk

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: gǒu xióng yǒu huà shuō

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: None

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 《成為》- 給自己相信的力量 (“chéng wéi” – gěi zì jǐ xiāng xìn de lì liàng) — “Becoming” (Give Yourself the Power to Believe) by Michelle Obama
  • 有了小孩如何保持高效率 (yǒu le xiǎo hái rú hé bǎo chí gāo xiào lǜ) — Immediately Become a Productive Parent (lit. How to Stay Productive When You Have Kids)
  • 日式蛇精病民科讀書法?(rì shì shé jīng bìng mín kē dú shū fǎ?) — Read a Book in 20 Minutes, Really? (lit. Japanese Crazy Folk Scientist Reading Method?)

What it’s about: 

狗熊有話說 or BearTalk is a pretty well-known and well-liked podcast on the Chinese podcast scene. It has been around for a long time, and in fact, it won the iTunes Editor’s Choice award in 2013 and has been featured in newspapers worldwide.

The podcast’s creator is a guy named “Bear,” and he’s a techie app designer and marketer who has lived in China and now New Zealand. His podcast touches on a variety of topics ranging from book reviews, technology, app design, self-improvement and productivity.

His speech style is accessible to intermediate learners because he speaks slowly and carefully, but he also uses an informal, conversational tone and some of his content uses technical language. For this reason, I’d recommend this podcast for high intermediate and advanced learners.

Further, this podcast is useful for learners to hear real Chinese as it is actually spoken. I would use this for everyday ways to talk about specific topics and see Chinese used in a natural, conversational setting.

14. Best for US vs. Chinese Culture: 隨口說美國 — Talking About the United States

chinese-podcasts

Title in pinyin: suí kǒu shuō měi guó

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: None  

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • “放開控制,跟隨引領” – 訪談今年美國高考媽媽 (“fàng kāi kòng zhì, gēn suí yǐn lǐng ” – fǎng tán jīn nián měi guó gāo kǎo mā ma) — Interview with the Moms of This Year’s American College Entrance Exam Takers
  • 全套西餐的餐具擺放等於一張地圖,它會準確告訴你將吃到什麼 (quán tào xī cān de cān jù bǎi fàng děng yú yì zhāng dì tú ,tā huì zhǔn què gào sù nǐ jiāng chī dào shén me) — A Map of Western Food Tells You Exactly What You’re Going to Eat
  • 美國藝術市場,水很深 (měi guó yì shù shì chǎng , shuǐ hěn shēn) — The Water Is Deep in the American Art Market

What it’s about: 

Technically this is a podcast about the United States, but it’s from the perspective of a Chinese person and there are plenty of interesting lessons for Chinese learners.

The presenter draws detailed comparisons between life in China and life in the U.S., providing listeners with a very clear idea of what’s the same or similar and what’s different. It’s a good way to answer the questions, “what would a Chinese person think about X?” or “how do they do X in China?”

Each episode is between 40 minutes and an hour long and it’s updated once a week.

The host speaks Mandarin Chinese with an accent from Fuzhou, which is similar to the Taiwanese accent. Even though it’s not especially standard, it’s clear and at a normal speed, so it shouldn’t be impossible for a Chinese learner to understand.

15. Best for Relationships: 一個人聽 — Listening Alone

chinese podcasts

Title in pinyin: yí gè rén tīng

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate

Materials: None  

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 女人要不要動用 “性感資本”?(nǚ rén yào bú yào dòng yòng “xìng gǎn zī běn”?) — Do Women Want to Use “Sexy Capital”?
  • 七十歲時還能為你做些改變 (qī shí suì shí hái néng wéi nǐ zuò xiē gǎi biàn) — At 70 Years of Age, You Can Still Make Changes
  • 結婚很可怕啊,但我卻想和你有一個家 (jié hūn hěn kě pà a , dàn wǒ què xiǎng hé nǐ yǒu yí gè jiā) — Getting Married Is Scary, But I Want to Have a Home with You

What it’s about: 

Relationships are a source of joy and angst all around the world, including in China. If you want to get a Chinese perspective on this universal preoccupation, this is the podcast for you.

Each episode is between 10 and 20 minutes long and it’s updated twice a week.

The presenter speaks slowly and in a standard broadcasting accent. Coupled with the relatively short length, that makes this podcast another great one for intermediate learners looking to break into native-level podcasts.

16. Best for Supernatural: 鬼話連篇 — A Big Load of Paranormal Events

Title in pinyin: guǐ huà lián piān

Podcast difficulty: Intermediate to advanced

Materials: Video subtitles (but not interactive)

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • 超膽任務實驗工廠鬼屋 (chāo dǎn rèn wù shí yàn gōng chǎng guǐwū) — Super Daring Mission to Experiment with a Haunted Ghost Factory
  • 靈動總回顧 (líng dòng zǒng huí gù) — Looking Back at Telekinesis
  • 空屋女鬼 (kōng wū nǚ guǐ) — Female Ghost in an Empty House

What it’s about: 

This is a pretty popular TV show in China, based around a fairly unusual theme: supernatural stuff!

If you’re into supernatural things, this is definitely something you want to check out! Based on a reality TV show format, it shows episodes of audiences visiting places rumored to be haunted, and their reactions are filmed on screen, and since a lot of this isn’t “staged,” you’re more than likely to hear a genuine scream permeating the set—sending shivers down your spine!

One thing that bugged me is the fact that I don’t think it’s updated anymore… but even with the current episodes count, you can get pretty busy combing through the content.

Subtitles are available, and if you’re a supernatural fan (no pun intended), this might be an interesting show to catch.

17. Best for Chinese Medicine: 黃帝內經與養生智慧 — Staying Healthy with the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine

chinese-podcasts

Title in pinyin: huáng dì nèi jīng yǔ yǎng shēng zhì huì

Podcast difficulty: Advanced

Materials: None 

Example Chinese podcast episodes:

  • [中醫用心說] 走過萬千山海,依舊初心不改 ([zhōng yī yòng xīn shuō] zǒu guò wàn qiān shān hǎi , yī jiù chū xīn bù gǎi) — [Chinese Medicine Practitioners Speak from the Heart] After Walking Through Thousands of Mountains and Seas, I Still Haven’t Changed My Mind
  • 黃帝內經與養生智慧第502講:庚子年白露節氣養生概要 (huáng dì nèi jīng yǔ yǎng shēng zhì huì dì 502 jiǎng: gēng zǐ nián bái lù jié qì yǎng shēng gài yào) — The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic and Health Wisdom Lecture 502: Overview of Health Maintenance During the White Dew Festival in the Year Gengzi
  • [中醫用心說] 要與你同看這世間萬物 ([zhōng yī yòng xīn shuō] yào yǔ nǐ tóng kàn zhè shì jiān wàn wù) — [Chinese Medicine Practitioners Speak from the Heart] I Want to See Everything in the World with You”

What it’s about: 

Even for those who aren’t studying the language, Chinese medicine is one of the most fascinating aspects of Chinese culture. Chinese medicine is based on research and ancient practices recorded in classic works, but it also influences the daily life and habits of people throughout China.

Ever see elderly people hitting themselves as they walk? They’re actually hitting specific spots on the body in a way that’s believed to be beneficial according to traditional Chinese therapies.

Back to this podcast, though. Each episode is between 15 minutes and half an hour long. “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” is one of the most important works in the history of Chinese medicine.

The podcast focuses on ways to stay healthy according to “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.”

The announcer has a slight southern accent but speaks relatively slowly. The most difficult aspect of listening to this podcast is that every episode has some medical terminology that you won’t find in your HSK lists.

If you’re interested in Chinese medicine, though, this is a great podcast to dive into.

Bonus Programs

For Fun Watching: 康熙來了 — Kangsi Coming 

chinese podcasts

On a different but not unrelated note, I also want to mention a hugely popular and award-winning talk show that I think deserves to be on the list: 康熙來了 (kāng xī lái le) or “Kangsi Coming” in English. It doesn’t have subtitles, episodes are 45 minutes long (very long!) and can be a little localized at times, but I personally love the show a lot, so I can’t resist bringing it up at the end.

The show’s name, Kangsi Coming,  is a play on the Chinese emperor 康熙 but is actually a portmanteau of the two hosts’ names. It was one of the longest-running variety shows in Taiwan that aired from January 2004 to January 2016, where the two hosts invited many different guests, celebrities and normal people to the show to talk about a variety of topics that people often find interesting and controversial.

I highly recommend this for some light-hearted entertainment, humor, insight into Taiwanese culture and also for learning a couple of phrases in the local Taiwanese dialect!

For Guided Learning: FluentU 

Another resource would be the FluentU program for a podcast-like experience with a visual and interactive twist. FluentU is an immersive language learning platform for serious language learners with Mandarin Chinese videos that cover various topics and skill levels. For example, you can find cartoons, movie clips, trailers, commercials, news segments and more.

The program also has a number of audio courses that introduce you to grammar concepts and vocabulary through slow and easy-to-follow dialogues and vocab pronunciations by a real native speaker.

Each video and audio course features interactive subtitles with definitions, example sentences and pronunciation guides, so that you can follow along with the audio:

FluentU TedX Clip

You can also click on new words or phrases and add them to your deck of flashcards or view other videos where they’re used in context.

In addition, all of the clips have downloadable transcripts, with quizzes for practicing your listening and speaking.  

FluentU is accessible on your browser or through the iOS or Android app.

What Makes a Great Chinese Podcast?

Here’s how I gauged these Chinese podcasts—and you can also use the same criteria when you’re looking for more Chinese language podcasts to follow: 

1. It has to be suitable for your level.

If the podcast is overly technical and riddled with obscure words nobody thinks about using, it might not be immediately attractive to you. Instead, you might want to find Chinese podcasts that are suitable for your current Chinese level. Usually, the best podcast services designed for learning will sort their podcast lessons by level.

2. It shouldn’t have too much local slang or dialect in it.

This is another biggie—I personally find slang to be very difficult, and mostly irrelevant when learning another language. It’s ironic… most people say that Chinese is a difficult language to learn, but surprisingly, it doesn’t have a lot of slang that finds its way into the language as with the colorful expressions you often hear in English. I’m not against slang per se, but I certainly don’t advocate it either, especially for learning in the beginning.

3. Avoid Chinese podcasts that are heavily accented.

I’m sure you already know this, but China is a big place. Unfortunately, the Chinese language tends to have a lot more variation in accent which makes it difficult to listen to. For example, a heavy Guangdong accent may make Chinese sound very much like Cantonese, and someone who’s a local in Taiwan or who speaks the Minnan dialect often likes to throw in a couple of phrases here and there from that local dialect. I would recommend against these ones unless you’re trying to master those specific accents.

4. Choose Chinese podcasts with a transcript or subtitles if you’re not yet advanced.

If you’re a beginner in Chinese, subtitles, transcripts and learning materials are always welcome. I tend to be a bit biased, but between two podcasts that have good content and mediocre content, I would choose the one with mediocre content but with great learning materials (assuming the one with good content doesn’t have them). That way, I know I’m actually learning!

5. Awesome Chinese podcasts should discuss interesting topics.

It depends on the person, but I lean towards podcasts that talk about really nichey stuff, or podcasts that are more casual (that don’t sound like a recording taken out of a Chinese textbook). The main thing is that they should be interesting, or else I find my vocabulary retention rates drop after a while.

In my opinion, Chinese language podcasts are a great way to learn Chinese, especially to help strengthen your listening skills. I hope you’ve found this post helpful and that it made you consider adding podcasts to your Chinese learning approach in the future!

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