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Thanks to the intricacies of the Chinese language, learning Mandarin is arguably one of the toughest things to do for non-native speakers. Thankfully, there are now dozens of online resources to help you.
And, as a native speaker, I have to say that Chinese podcasts are one of the most important tools to mastering the language.
Why are podcasts important for learning Chinese?
The toughest part about Mandarin is learning how to pronounce your words correctly. Given that different intonations have different meanings, proper pronunciation is the only thing that differentiates “I can’t find my glasses” and “I can’t find my eyes”, for example.
In that regard, Chinese podcasts are a godsend. Not only can you learn in a more engaging way, but you’ll also be able to listen to native speakers speaking the language. From there, you’ll pick up conversational nuances and, over time, perfect your pronunciation.
With that, let’s dive right in!
Chinese podcasts for all levels
1. Rocket Chinese
Rocket Languages enjoys a stellar reputation for being one of the best online language learning platforms. Its comprehensive Chinese program, which is split into different levels of proficiency, is no different.
Chinese podcasts make up the bulk of the lessons on Rocket Chinese. Featuring natural dialogues narrated by native speakers, you’ll be able to quickly expand your bank of Mandarin phrases and improve your pronunciation as you follow along with engaging conversations.
What I like about Rocket Chinese:
- A comprehensive course that caters to all levels of proficiency
- Features a voice-recognition system to help hone your pronunciation
- Comes with writing lessons for Chinese characters
Price: Paid subscription (one-time fee) starts from $99.95.
While not exactly a podcast, another popular audio course that I feel compelled to include in this list of podcasts to learn Chinese is Pimsleur.
Known for their amazing audio-only lessons, Pimsleur is a great starting point not only for those just starting to learn Mandarin but also for intermediate and advanced learners to further improve their proficiency.
As a native speaker, I cannot stress enough the importance of expanding your vocabulary when learning Chinese. Pimsleur helps you do exactly that, with lessons that tend to highlight practical vocabulary and expressions using authentic conversations to keep learners interested.
Here’s an offer for you: Try Pimsleur free for 7 days!
What I like about Pimsleur:
- Lessons are split evenly according to your level of proficiency
- Engaging conversations that keep the learner interested
Price: At the moment, there are five different levels of Mandarin lessons on Pimsleur, with each costing $150
3. Mandarin Bean
If you’d like to track your progress in Mandarin according to the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) standard that Mainland China uses for non-native speakers, then Mandarin Bean is one of the best podcasts to learn Chinese for you.
With lessons that are split according to different HSK levels (Beginner to Advanced), Mandarin Bean covers a wide range of topics ranging from basic everyday routines to news reports about the day’s trending topics.
What’s more, instead of using dialogue, this Chinese podcast focuses on repetition to help you remember what you’ve just heard. Plus, each podcast comes with a transcript that you can hover over for instant translation!
What I like about Mandarin Bean:
- Features an interactive transcript that can be translated in real-time
- Lessons are based on the HSK Standard levels of proficiency
Price: You can access most lessons for free. A premium subscription plan is priced at $29.99 per year and unlocks all other features.
Another personal favorite of mine when it comes to Chinese podcasts is ChinesePod.
Hosted by a group of native speakers in Mandarin and English, this fun, engaging series offers over 4,000 lessons that are suited for language learners of different levels of proficiency.
Whether it’s fundamental grammar, vocabulary, or the cultural history of the language, ChinesePod covers just about everything there is to learn in the Chinese language with a gradually increasing level of difficulty to build up your confidence!
What I like about ChinesePod:
- Contains lesson exercises to help you retain information
- You can take a placement test to track your progress
- Lessons are based on a flexible structure, allowing you to personalize your learning
Price: A basic package starts at $14 per month with special prices available for groups and education groups.
Hosted on Spotify, Maayot is an awesome Chinese podcast that helps learners get familiar with and improve their Mandarin using weekly short stories.
Conveniently separated into different levels, the stories are usually about daily life and Chinese culture. As you advance, the stories will contain a more complex vocabulary. That said, the narrator maintains a learner-friendly pace so you’re able to fully understand what you hear.
What I like about Maayot:
- Uses interesting stories to unpack complex vocabulary and grammar
- Introduces listeners to Chinese culture and nuances
- Lessons are conveniently marked with a corresponding level of proficiency
Price: Free on Spotify
6. FluentU Chinese
FluentU is one of the most popular online language courses that avid learners rely on. Its Chinese course, which features more than just podcasts, features a plethora of different content, ranging from TV shows to commercials and speeches.
The personalized lessons come with interactive captions and help you keep track of your vocabulary growth. With the wide range of topics that are covered, FluentU Chinese is suitable for all learners regardless of proficiency.
What I like about FluentU:
- A comprehensive course that covers a range of topics
- Personalized lessons with captions to help you navigate
Price: The most basic package starts at $10/month after your two-week free trial
Chinese podcasts for beginners
If you’re looking to start learning the language, ChineseClass101 is, in my opinion, one of the best podcasts to learn Chinese.
Featuring short audio and video lessons based on authentic dialogue, ChineseClass101 is perfect for beginners and those who want to pick up certain phrases for a trip to China or Taiwan.
Rather than focus on the nitty-gritty aspect of Chinese grammar, the podcast directs learners to essential phrases that they can use on the bounce, using word lists and flashcards to help you remember what you’ve learned.
What I like about ChineseClass101:
- Beginner-friendly lessons that focus on essential vocabulary
- Comes with flashcards and wordlists to complement learning
Price: Paid subscription starts from $25/month after your week-long free trial
8. I Love Learning Chinese @ Stitcher
I Love Learning Chinese is one of my favorite underrated Mandarin podcasts on the web. Hosted by native speaker Ashley, I Love Learning Chinese is suitable for both beginners and intermediate learners.
Ashley’s podcasts range from between 10 to 15 minutes on average, offering bite-sized yet comprehensive lessons in Mandarin. She regularly switches between Mandarin and English to help new learners keep up with the well-paced lessons too.
The lessons are split into different levels ranging from the most basic skills (such as learning to read hanyu pinyin) to more intermediate lessons that teach you essential vocab and phrases for daily conversation.
What I like about I Love Learning Chinese:
- Frequent switching between English and Mandarin to help beginners understand
- Appropriately-paced lessons that help new learners
9. Coffee Break Chinese
True to its name, Coffee Break Chinese is a podcast that’s designed for those who wish to learn Mandarin at a leisurely pace, preferably with a cup of coffee in hand!
Despite the casual vibe, the audio lessons on Coffee Break Chinese are still able to help you nail down the basics of the language thanks to its well-structured (and well-paced) course!
In my opinion, Coffee Break Chinese is most suitable for those who have just started learning Mandarin. Your hosts, native speaker Crystal and Mandarin learner Mark, will guide you on a relaxing journey where you can build up your vocabulary bank and pick up on conversational nuances.
What I like about Coffee Break Chinese:
- Lessons are paced slowly and are perfect for casual learners
- Uses a progressing story to keep listeners hooked
- Features both a native speaker and learner to help you build confidence and fluency
Price: Free on Podbean
10. Mandarin Blueprint
For a language learner hoping to master a complex language like Mandarin, having a podcaster who’s been in your shoes is a great help.
Mandarin Blueprint is a slow Chinese podcast that is narrated by non-native Chinese speakers that aim to help beginners grasp the basics of the language. Featuring short sessions that focus on building up vocabulary, it’s perfect for those who want to learn Mandarin at a leisurely pace.
What’s more, as a native speaker, I have to admit that I’m quite impressed with their accurate pronunciation too!
What I like about Mandarin Blueprint:
- Hosts are non-native speakers that understand your needs
- Extremely slow-paced. Perfect for beginners
Price: A monthly package costs $39, with a $399 yearly option also available
11. Talk Chineasy
Talk Chineasy is another excellent podcast for learning Mandarin that caters to busy lifestyles.
Hosted by Taiwanese host ShaoLan, Talk Chineasy mainly features short, daily lessons that help listeners expand their vocabulary bank as well as introduce them to Chinese (and Taiwanese) culture.
ShaoLan mainly speaks in English while spending time explaining the words in Mandarin. For beginners and those looking to progress to intermediate level, Talk Chineasy is a good choice indeed.
What I like about Talk Chineasy:
- Lessons are mainly conducted in English
- Daily short lessons that are straight-to-the-point
Price: A monthly package costs $6.99. Alternatively, you can pay $139.99 for lifetime access.
12. Everyday Easy Chinese
As the name suggests, Everyday Easy Chinese is a daily video podcast that aims to quickly help new learners expand their vocabulary bank.
Hosted by native speaker Teacher Lin, you’ll receive daily lessons that feature a new word, and example sentences to help you learn how to properly use it. In addition, there are also lessons that discuss trending issues and Chinese culture too.
What I like about Everyday Easy Chinese:
- Simple Chinese podcast with transcripts and video illustration
- Features additional lessons on their other social media channels
Chinese podcasts for intermediate learners
13. Mandarin Monkey
One of the hardest things to do in Mandarin is breaking through that beginner-intermediate level plateau. Everything is either too easy or incomprehensible. Thankfully, Chinese podcasts like Mandarin Monkey exist!
Hosted by Tom and Ula, an English/Taiwanese couple, each vibrant episode lasts about an hour long and, with the couple discussing just everything under the sun in both Mandarin and English.
Unlike a structured lesson, Mandarin Monkey podcasts are more like a free-flowing bilingual conversation. It’s great for those who want to practice their listening and comprehension skills.
What I like about Mandarin Monkey:
- Engaging hosts with addictive humor and energy
- No rigidly structured lessons
Price: Free (on Youtube)
14. Melnyks Chinese
On the flipside, Melnyks Chinese is a more in-depth Chinese podcast that’s suitable for intermediate students looking to bridge the gap to advanced proficiency.
Hosted by a Chinese language learner, each 20-minute episode feels more like a class that’s designed to build on the vocabulary and grammar from the previous lesson. Focusing on daily situations and conversations, expect repetitions and example sentences galore as you tune in.
There will also be example conversations that are broken down into English to help learners better understand the words they’ve just learned.
What I like about Melnyks Chinese:
- Clearly structured lessons covering a wide range of topics
- Each lesson correlates to the previous episode to help refresh your memory
- Comes with a variety of supplementary material
Price: Some lessons are free, but full access costs $97 per year.
15. Speak Chinese With Da Peng
Speak Chinese with Da Peng is a podcast for higher intermediate learners. That’s because you will hardly ever hear any English at all. Despite this, the enthusiastic host, Da Peng, often uses simple Mandarin to convey information and focuses on topics that help further enhance your vocabulary bank.
His “Daily Chinese Expression” series is arguably his best work yet. As the name suggests, episodes in the series focus on common expressions in the Chinese language and help listeners understand the context of these expressions before providing multiple examples of their uses.
What I like about Speak Chinese with Da Peng:
- Provides an immersive environment for learning Mandarin
- Podcasts focusing on a variety of interesting topics to keep learners hooked
- Narrated by a native speaker at a slow pace, perfect for language learners
Price: The podcasts are free. However, to unlock the PDF transcripts, you’ll have to subscribe to Da Peng’s Patreon account which starts at $1/month.
16. Haike Mandarin
Similarly, Haike Mandarin is a Chinese podcast with little to no English involved. Instead, the Taiwanese hosts, Liyi and Xianxian, discuss common expressions and phrases using simple Mandarin to help learners assimilate to the language.
Each podcast is a dynamic conversation between the two Taiwanese friends. I’ve listened to several of their episodes myself and found that the content and delivery are often fun and entertaining, which is great for language learners!
What I like about Haike Mandarin:
- Extremely fun, light-hearted conversations between two native speakers
- Free transcripts on the website with real-time translation
- Listeners can learn about Taiwanese culture as they listen along
If listening to a full podcast in Mandarin still feels daunting to you, then check out bilingual podcasts like Chillchat.
Made for intermediate learners trying to deepen their understanding of Mandarin, Chillchat features authentic conversations that are fun, yet at the same time cover trending topics in China.
As you listen along, you’ll learn more advanced vocabulary and even get a glimpse of online lingo that Chinese millennials often use. Each episode comes with its own transcript and further materials to help learners better understand and practice what they’ve learned.
What I like about Chillchat:
- One of the few bilingual podcasts designed for intermediate learners
- Offers learners a glimpse of life in China
Price: The podcasts are free. However, to access other learning materials, you’ll have to donate $5/month on Buy Me A Coffee
18. Inspire Mandarin
Inspire Mandarin is one of my favorite Taiwanese podcasts to learn Chinese. Hosted by the extremely friendly Joyce, Inspire Mandarin podcasts are extremely laidback and therapeutic, providing learners a casual environment to improve their Mandarin proficiency.
While a majority of the podcasts are in Mandarin, Joyce frequently code switches to English when explaining the key vocabulary and expressions of the episode. She also speaks at a slower pace so language learners can better follow along.
You can also find wordlists and transcripts on Inspire Mandarin’s social media channels!
What I like about Inspire Mandarin:
- The narrator speaks at a slow pace that’s easy to understand
- Appropriate code-switching to highlight certain keywords in English
Chinese podcasts for advanced learners
19. The Pastimes of Youth
Once you reach advanced proficiency in Mandarin, there are hardly any lesson-specific Chinese podcasts that can help you improve further. At this point, the best thing to do to become even more fluent is simply to immerse yourself in a Chinese-speaking environment.
The Pastimes of Youth is a fun Chinese podcast that invites learners to listen in on gripping conversations between native speakers. Covering daily issues and cultural trends in Taiwan with a conversational tone, this Mandarin podcast doubles up as a fun leisure activity to relax at the end of the day.
What I like about The Pastimes of Youth:
- The hosts are extremely enthusiastic which make for an exciting listen
- No English at all – a fully immersive learning experience
- Learn about the current trends and culture of Taiwan as you tune in
20. Slow Chinese
Created by Chinese college students, Slow Chinese is a fully-Mandarin podcast that touches on trending topics in China, including what it’s like to live in the Mainland.
However, don’t be put off by the lack of English. As the name of the podcast suggests, each 10-minute episode is narrated at a slow pace, with each word being clearly annunciated to better help learners understand.
Although there has not been any new episode since 2018, you will find an extensive archive of podcasts to listen to on their website.
What I like about Slow Chinese:
- The pace of narration is perfect for non-native speakers to follow along
- Touches on trending issues as well as Chinese cultural history
iMandarinPod, on the other hand, is a popular Chinese podcast that uploads new episodes every day, covering just about every topic there is to discuss in Mandarin.
Conveniently, the podcasts are split into four distinct categories: Traditional Culture, Chinese History, Current Events in China, and Everyday Language. You can simply pick from your preferred topic and tune in.
Like Slow Chinese, there is not a single word of English in the podcast episodes. However, everything is narrated at a non-native speaker-friendly pace, with each word being annunciated clearly. Apart from the podcasts, you can also download transcripts and further learning guides on the website.
What I like about iMandarinPod:
- Clearly defined categories to help learners find a topic of interest
- Extremely clear pronunciation from a native speaking narrator
Price: The podcasts are free. However, all other materials are only available to subscribers. You can choose between a $10 monthly fee or pay $100 per year.
22. Learning Chinese Through Stories
One of the best ways to learn Mandarin is simply to listen to stories. That is precisely what Learning Chinese Through Stories does.
Narrated by two native speakers, you’ll listen to gripping, entertaining stories, picking up new vocabulary and expressions along the way. Once the stories end, your hosts will walk you through the plot again, helping you understand different concepts and contexts in Mandarin.
What I like about Learning Chinese Through Stories:
- Innovative, immersive way to learn new Mandarin vocabulary and expressions
- Narrators speak at a natural pace but take care in pronouncing everything clearly
Price: The podcasts are free. However, if you’d like the accompanying transcripts and grammar notes, you can subscribe to them on Patreon for $5/month.
23. Culture Potato
Culture Potato is one of my favorite Chinese podcasts to listen to in my free time. Like most other Chinese podcasts for advanced learners, Culture Potato is less like a lesson and more like a roundtable discussion.
The topics include culture, art, and even history. What’s really unique about Culture Potato is that the hosts often highlight the stark contrast between Western and Chinese cultural norms. So not only will you be improving your Mandarin, but you’ll also be getting cultural lessons to boot!
What I like about Culture Potato:
- Thought-provoking discussions about a large variety of topics
- Engaging hosts that invite the learner to immense themselves in a Chinese-speaking environment
24. Xitanlu on Apple Podcasts
As any language learner will tell you, one of the key elements to mastering a new language is mastering its humor. As a native speaker, I can confirm the same can be said of Mandarin.
Xitanlu is one of the most popular Chinese podcasts in China, enjoyed by a multitude of listeners in Mainland China and beyond. The weekly episodes discuss current trends. However, what’s unique about Xitanlu is that most of its guest stars are stand-up comedians!
Cue aptly-timed puns and remarks that will leave you in stitches even as you listen in on thought-provoking discussions!
What I like about Xitanlu:
- Discusses serious topics in a fun, uplifting way
- Introduces learners to Chinese humor
25. 大人的Small Talk
大人的Small Talk (Daren de Small Talk) is another Chinese podcast that I personally listen to regularly. Hosted by Taiwanese management consultants, this lively podcast series discusses issues like financial success, personal development, and dealing with the common troubles of “adulting”.
While the pace can sometimes be a little quick, I find that the language that is used is generally simple enough to understand. Plus, each episode is only about 20 minutes long, so it’s a great option for those who want to listen in during their lunch break at work.
What I like about Daren de Small Talk:
- Relevant topics for working professionals
- Short episodes that aren’t overwhelming for the listener
26. Chinese Colloquialised
Finally, for advanced learners who want to expand their conversation-ready vocabulary bank, try Chinese Colloquialised.
With topics that focus on Chinese history, culture, and slang, Chinese Colloquaisalised helps get you ready to converse fluently in Mandarin in any given situation.
Aided by your host, Summer (and a full Chinese transcript), you’ll soon find yourself with a ready bank of colloquial expressions that you can whip out to impress even native speakers!
What I like about Chinese Colloquialised:
- Introduces learners to eloquent phrases and colloquial expressions not usually covered
- Features plenty of engaging trendy topics and discussions
And there you have it, 26 of the best Mandarin Chinese podcasts to help you master the Chinese language!