Five free Chinese podcasts you should be listening to
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I really
like Chinese podcasts as a source of listening material.
There are plenty of great paid Chinese podcast services that teach you Chinese.
Those are great and often worth the money, but always remember that there’s no
shortage of totally free Chinese podcasts offering genuine Chinese audio for
This is by far my favourite of the Chinese podcasts I listen to. The presenter
is a guy from Kunming, and each episode consists of him talking about his
interests and playing a few tracks that he likes. He often reads out feedback
and messages from listeners as well.
There are quite a few reasons I like 狗熊有话说 so much.
The first is that the content is very natural, genuine Chinese, which isn’t
always the easiest thing to find as a learner. Each episode really is just 狗熊
chatting away. This is good from the perspective of a Chinese learner, but is
also pleasant to listen to because it’s unpretentious and easy-going.
Another thing I like about 狗熊有话说 is that 狗熊 talks about topics I find
interesting: productivity, technology and language learning. He talks about his
approach to learning English, which makes it great listening material for those
of us studying Chinese.
I’ll also add that it’s nice to hear slightly accented Mandarin, and a
down-to-earth male voice. A lot of Mandarin learning materials and publicly
available audio is excessively correct, and there tend to be more female voices
than male in my experience. It’s good to hear a balance of how different people
狗熊有话说 has an audio podcast, a video blog, and a 微信 channel you can
锵锵三人行 (‘Behind the Headlines with Wentao’)
锵锵三人行 is a current affairs discussion show. It’s actually primarily a TV
show (it has a YouTube channel),
but the audio podcast version makes good listening material as well.
I like 锵锵三人行 because it is ostensibly a news show but isn’t composed, with
each episode taking the form of natural conversations between the host 窦文涛
and two guests.
There’s a mix of topics and guests, including speakers from Hong Kong and
Taiwan. This means you get a range of accents and styles of speech to tune your
静雅思听 offers recordings of Chinese literature by various readers. Because of
this it differs widely from 狗熊有话说 and 锵锵三人行. The Mandarin is generally
very standard and rehearsed, and has more of a performance feel.
Because the content is more literary, 静雅思听 episodes use a richer
vocabulary and greater variety in style and sentence structure. This makes it
a great complement to 狗熊有话说 and 锵锵三人行 in my view.
The content doesn’t shy away from deep issues, and is often genuinely engaging.
Having said that, I have heard quite a few readings of extremely wordy and
not particularly interesting texts on dull topics (in my opinion!).
The only thing I dislike about 静雅思听 is that they intersperse the readings
with adverts for themselves that are either ostentatious or overly jolly. This
tends to break any atmosphere that the reading has built up over the preceding
minutes. Then again the podcast is free, and there’s a paid version if the
adverts get on your nerves too much.
To tell the truth, I don’t enjoy the BBC News Podcast as much as the other
shows, but I feel it’s important to get used to this form of Chinese.
As you’d expect from a news show, it’s quite high-speed and pretty formal. They
do have quite a lot of contributions from various speakers and experts though,
who add some variety to the mix.
I like BBC 新闻博客 because it’s quick and to the point, and the episodes don’t
carry on for too long. Try as I might, I just can’t maintain interest in a
rapid-fire news show for too long. It’s certainly not like 狗熊有话说！
開卷八分鐘 (‘Eight Minutes Reading’)
I discovered 開卷八分鐘 via this post from FluentU.
Unfortunately they stopped making new content in Decemeber 2014, but there’s a
hefty backlog of past episodes to keep you going.
Like 锵锵三人行, this is actually a video show, but the audio makes for great
listening on its own. The only issue is that I can’t find an RSS feed for this
one so I’ve been downloading episode files manually instead (well, with some
As you might guess from the title, 開卷八分鐘 consists of eight-minute episodes
in which the presenter reviews and summarises a book. I like this because you
get to hear about potential Chinese reading material whilst improving your
Do you listen to any of these podcasts? Which Chinese podcasts would you add to
This content was originally published here.