5 Online Chinese Radio Stations to Practice Easy Listening
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, access to online Chinese radio stations are just a few clicks away.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of Chinese radio stations that you can stream.
They cover a wide range of topics—from news headlines and music to politics and much more—providing quality learning and entertainment for anyone who wants to practice their listening skills from the comfort of their home.
That’s why I’ve created a list of five online Chinese radio stations for you that not only make Chinese listening fun and informative, but relatively easy as well.
- 1. RFI Chinese
- 2. CNR-1’s Voice Of China
- 3. SMG (Shanghai Media Group)
- 4. RTI (Radio Taiwan International)
- 5. TuneIn
- Why Listen to Chinese Radio Online
- Tips for Listening to Chinese Radio Online
1. RFI Chinese
Category: International News, Chinese Talk
RFI Chinese is a France-based Mandarin radio station that delivers high-quality streams on a number of different topics. Their news broadcasts are particularly good, and the international news coverage is very well-researched.
2. CNR-1’s Voice Of China
Category: Chinese Culture
China National Radio (CNR) is one of the best radio outlets for finding out more about Chinese topics. Their premier channel “Voice of China” is a great place to hear more about Chinese news, politics and culture, and it’s a great way to broaden your vocabulary on these topics.
3. SMG (Shanghai Media Group)
SMG (Shanghai Media Group), is one of China’s largest media corporations: offering both radio and television programming for the city of Shanghai. Given the city’s status as a blooming cultural and artistic hub, it’s a great place to tap into China’s vibrant culture.
4. RTI (Radio Taiwan International)
Category: News, Entertainment Channels
RTI is excellent for beginner to intermediate learners because it has transcripts available for many of their articles, and both audio and text are easily accessible through its website.
Remember that RTI is a Taiwanese radio station, so there will be a Taiwanese accent.
There will be different programs at various times of the day and week, so check out what interests you. Some categories include 新闻 (xīn wén) for news and 节目 (jié mù) for Chinese stories and dramas.
TuneIn gathers information for radio shows and stations. It’s also free and conveniently available as an app for your iPhone or Android.
Here you can find Chinese talk radio stations worldwide, including Chinese Radio Network based in New York and CRI News Radio in Beijing.
CRI News Radio runs 24 hours a day and has programs for all interests, including “环球教育” (huán qiú jiào yù – Global Education), “新财富时间” (xīn cái fù shí jiàn – New Fortune), and “听电影” (tīng diàn yĭng – Movie Listening).
Why Listen to Chinese Radio Online
Hear Tones Correctly and Clearly
At street levels in China—especially in cities outside of Beijing and its immediate surroundings—there are many pronunciation irregularities and local slang, but radio is much more standardized.
Radio speech is far more grammatically and tonally precise. Part of this is due to the government’s focus on teaching people Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) and its associated tones instead of more regional derivatives.
Most national Chinese radio stations that you can listen to online avoid such localized pronunciation and, as such, are a great source for listening practice.
But while this is excellent for improving your listening skills in the beginner stages, be careful not to rely only on Chinese radio.
This is why I recommend supplementing your Chinese radio sessions with resources like FluentU, an online immersion program that lets you learn Chinese in context with authentic videos.
Since native speakers are the target audience of most of these videos, you’ll see how Chinese people speak in real life and get accustomed to different regional variations and accents.
Broaden Your Chinese Vocabulary
While textbooks and conversations teach you vocabulary, they only scratch the surface of the Chinese language and its extensive vocabulary. One great way to extend your vocabulary is by listening to an online Chinese news radio station.
In addition to keeping you informed about happenings in China and the world, you can learn a great number of new words. Especially in areas like geography (Chinese words for countries and major landforms), politics (Chinese names of leaders, organizations and groups), and of course pop culture.
Furthermore, audio can be easily paused, allowing time for unknown words to be looked up in a dictionary.
Connect with Chinese Slang and Culture
While we’ve talked about how most Chinese radio stations generally stay clear of “slang” vocabulary for a number of reasons, the opposite is true for Chinese pop radio stations.
A large selection of such stations can be found online, and in addition to putting you in contact with a wide range of contemporary, Chinese pop and rock music, they also provide a valuable window into Chinese youth culture.
Discover China Through Listening
Short of spending a large amount of time in a homestay with a Chinese family, one of the best ways to experience a more authentic China is through radio.
By listening to online Chinese radio stations, you can gain a broader perspective on what life is like in the distant regions of China: keeping abreast of Chinese political and economic news.
Learn Chinese Regional Accents
While most large, government-run, national radio stations in China are broadcast in clearly-spoken Putonghua, if you are looking for a listening challenge, consider checking out some regional private radio stations.
Yes, the accents may be more difficult to understand, but training your ears to identify and understand these regional accents is rewarding and useful.
Tips for Listening to Chinese Radio Online
Chinese radio can be listened to in a myriad of different ways. That said, getting more out of Chinese radio is possible if you follow a few simple tips:
- Pause and look up definitions of words. Whenever you hear a word that you don’t know, pause the broadcast, look up its meaning and then write it down.
- Jot down song titles. If you hear a Chinese song you particularly like, listen for its name, and then look up and learn its lyrics. Quite often, online radio stations will show the name of the current song and artist—yet another benefit of listening via the web.
- Listen at different times. Listen to a radio station at different times of the day and/or night to familiarize yourself with the varying tones of each of the announcers.
- Stay focused. Try to actively listen for as long as possible. If you don’t understand everything immediately, don’t be put off and don’t give up.
- Practice every aspect of your listening comprehension. There are four main types of listening activities for improving comprehension, all of which you can do with Chinese radio—background listening (having Chinese radio on in the background while you do other things), passive listening (paying attention to the radio but not heavily interacting with it), active listening (interacting with and studying with the audio) and deliberate listening (a planned out listening session that may require preparation before and analysis at the end).
Perseverance and regularly listening to online Chinese radio stations will rapidly turn into the most entertaining part of Chinese learning that you have on hand.
So what are you waiting for? Start listening today!