6 Best Chinese Podcasts for Beginners!

listening audio on headphones

Introduction

Congratulations on beginning your Chinese journey! It may seem daunting sometimes how many different characters (汉字 – Hànzì) exist. Don’t get overwhelmed, with patience and hard work you’ll definitely reach the proficiency level you are aiming for. Our carefully crafted list of the best Chinese podcasts for beginners will surely help you!

Grasping a new language requires a comprehensive approach. There is no magic formula. You won’t find on this website information on how to be fluent in 3 months, there is no such thing. Even though listening to natives is essential, the optimal approach is based on reading and writing as well. It goes without saying that traveling to China or preparing for the HSK exam will give you a big boost.

studying and learning
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Listening Chinese as a beginner

The following podcasts and listening materials will enable you to listen to the language, most of them are hosted by native speakers. Mandarin is a tonal language, the same word spoken with a different tone (声调 – Shēngdiào) has another meaning. Therefore, it’s recommended hearing the same episode more than once and trying to speak the sentences out loud. Don’t forget to pause whenever necessary and think about what you just heard.

If possible, make the effort of listening to at least half an hour each day. Possibilities are endless; while driving, cleaning the house, or walking down the neighborhood, the choice is yours. Make sure to have a good pair of headphones as people nearby may not want to listen alongside, their loss!

Here’s the best Chinese podcasts for beginners list you’ve been expecting for, enjoy!

Mini Mandarin

Hosted since 2018 by Amy Lin. She’s a renowned online Chinese teacher, you will be learning from an expert. The episodes are just a few minutes long, in them she goes through a single phrase several times, explanations are very clear. On her website you may also find a blog and courses (a bit pricey though seem high quality), all contents are tailored for beginners.  Though it did not make the list, you’re more than welcome to enjoy a second podcast by Amy.

Talk Chineasy

Daily podcast created by ShaoLan since 2017. In case you’re not familiar with the award-winning Chineasy teaching method, it’s a great way for Mandarin beginners to grasp Chinese characters through stunning graphic design along with insightful and simple explanations, please visit their website for more information. Podcast episodes go through a single word or phrase explained several times, thus giving a wide array of real-life situations you could use it in. She regularly invites guests who help her out with the lesson while also talking about their latest endeavors, some of them are famous experts and include the likes of Niall Ferguson and Bill Gross among many others. You may find useful resources from Chineasy sold in here.

Coffee Break Chinese

Each and every podcast on this this list is excellent, the one made by Mark and Crystal is no different and might even be considered the top one of our best Chinese podcasts for beginners list. Created by Mark Pentleton (director of Radio Lingua), he plays the role of beginner Chinese student who is trying to grasp Mandarin; Crystal, a native Mandarin speaker and experienced teacher, helps him along the way. Coffee Break Chinese lessons are 15-20 minutes long; they are fun and easy-going. Sadly for us, they made only one 40-episodes season, enough for a few months of listening tough not nearly as extensive as other resources.

In their website, an accompanying course with many perks is offered; and unlike several other Chinese learning services, a one-time-only purchase is required instead of a monthly subscription. I won’t lie, the price tag is quite high, only consider buying if you really see yourself using it. You may check out a demo of the full course in here.

Chinese Pod - Beginner

No list would be complete without Chinese Pod, they were the first, in 2004, to come out with Mandarin learning video resources. Over the years they’ve created an outstanding library of 4000+ immersive audio and video lessons that teach phrases that real Chinese people use, unlike several textbooks out there. Lessons cover a wide range of topics, from beginner level till fluency. Many lessons, in their audio format, are available completely free through their podcasts. A premium version which includes transcripts, complete access to all video lessons and much more is available for purchase through their website. They host a great app as well. The company has changed hosts several times, the ones I recommend the most are Fiona, Constance and Gwilym.

Popup Chinese

Popular and long-running Chinese-learning website. New lessons stopped recording a few years ago. Regardless, you may find a wealth of past recorded superb lessons suited for the elementary-beginner level, topics are well chosen and some very funny (check out “The MacGyver of Chopsticks” or “Workplace Pickup Techniques”). Please notice that access is possible solely through their website, you won’t find them on podcast apps such as Spotify/Apple Podcasts.

You Can Learn Chinese

Made by Jared Turner and John Pasden of Mandarin Companion (wonderful series of easy-to-read novels in Chinese, mostly suited for the elementary level). Unlike former podcast, this one is completely in English and won’t teach you Chinese. Nevertheless, I wish there was a podcast like this one back in the day. Even more important than learning is learning how to learn. Jared and John, both of them fluent Mandarin speaker, will walk you through proven techniques and methods for reaching your Chinese-learning goals, explain Chinese culture and lifestyle, along with much more.

Bonus Tips

  1. Buy wireless headphones, they are very convenient and quite accessible nowadays. Click here for a list of the best ones being offered today.
  2. You have just started your Mandarin journey, materials for beginners abound for free, there is no need in purchasing pricey subscriptions at this stage. Of course, if you find yourself constantly using a particular service, you may consider upgrading to the premium version.
  3. Take it easy. Improvement takes time.
The sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts.
Do you listen to Chinese podcasts? Which one do you enjoy? Should it make it to the best Chinese podcasts for beginners list? Your opinion does matter and may help others. Please be kind and share in the comments section below.
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