Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
bchang

Chinesepod.com-Does it really work?

Recommended Posts

bchang

I've reacently been hearing alot of great stuff about Chinesepod i'm now thinking of buying a subscription does this system actually work? If so how does it compare to other systems?

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

xuechengfeng

They have a lot of free podcasts you can download. You might want to sample the product before you make the purchase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kdavid

This depends on two things: what level you're currently at and what you want to get out of an online study tool. My first month's subscription is almost out and I will certainly pay for another month, if not for the 6-month deal as it saves a bit of money.

Great things about Chinesepod:

1. Convenience. I'm an English teacher who often has a lot of downtime between classes and lesson planning. Being able to hop online at anytime and study is very convenient.

2. Materials. There are a number of tools you can take advantage of. The two that I find most helpful are the online flashcards and podcasts.

2a. Depending on your subscription (basic or premium), you have access to review materials and lesson plans. You are able to download transcripts for each of the podcasts which is a huge help for the more advanced podcasts which showcase native speakers speaking at a near-native level (pretty fast for me). Being able to read the transcript (pinyin, simplified and traditional characters, and English translation) along with the podcast is ideal.

2b. The flashcards are also great. The site has a database of over 14,000 characters (combinations and such) which can be searched for and added to your vocab list. Using these is much easier than making my own. Also, if you like a particular lesson and what to study the vocab. covered, with a simple click of one button you can download all of the vocab into your own personalized vocab list.

3. Relevance of material. All of the podcasts cover relevant topics that you WILL use day-to-day. They also cover slang and colloquial speech, which you won't find in standard textbooks and (usually) only learn from your friends. Learning these is fun because I can always shock my friends with some off-the-wall native-speaker slang.

4. Personality. The hosts of the shows are fun and entertaining. They are all fluent or native-speakers with clear standard accents.

Bad things (not much):

1. What is your level? Right now Chinesepod tends to cater more towards Newbie and Elementary levels. Though I am far from being 'Intermediate', the Elementary levels are way too easy for me, and the pace of speech is way too slow for me to learn anything. If you are at the Newbie or Elementary level, then this is ideal.

Intermediate and higher podcasts come maybe once to twice a week. So, I often find myself digging through the lesson archive for old Intermediate lessons to study while I wait on fresh ones. I would not recommend Chinesepod for Upper-Intermediate or higher learners.

Another thing to consider:

Does it work? I think so. But, just like any other online tool or textbook, Chinesepod is supplementary to your learning curriculum. Chinesepod will not force you to study your reading, writing and listening, and it sure as hell won't force you to go out and talk to strangers to practice your speaking.

All in all, I think it's a fantastic supplementary tool and I highly recommend it for anyone from the Newbie to Intermediate levels.

Hope this helps!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kdavid

One more thing I forgot... you can sign up for a free 7-day Premium subscription without having to use your credit card. You just need to give them your email address.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bchang

Wow thanks for all your help ill be signing up for the trial for sure, as im on Christmas Hollidays. It sounds great thanks alot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flameproof
Does it really work?

Yes and no. You still have to do the work. The same way running shoes do not make you a runner.

ChinesePod is great. It's funny and fun to listen to. However, you will not get fluent. Fluency will come ONLY with daily life interaction. However, they do have a bunch of good tools and nice lessons. It's GREAT in addition to something else you do about learning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
onebir
Fluency will come ONLY with daily life interaction

I suspect the FSI course, which has hundreds of hours of drills forcing you to make speak out loud, might get you pretty close to fluency in producing sentences if you were dogged enough about using it... (Although you might need further listening comprehension practice)

The latter 'if' is a big one though - I'm just now using FSI French, and can it's fairly boring. Perhaps because I'm using it too much. So I can imagine the much larger chinese course, together with the somewhat more difficult content, presenting the similar, but bigger problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laowai1980

I think it does work, personally I've covered newbie section and half way through elementary now. I am planning it'll take me another 1-2 months to cover the whole elementary section and get all the vocabulary "drilled down" as Ken there says :) The lessons are fun to listen to, even if you don't buy a subscription. Just start from scratch, get yourself an ipod or a cheap mp3 flash player and listen to the lessons everywhere you can. The words work their way down into the brain gradually, I feel I can understand chinese speech better now, well, provided the dialogues there are mostly slow. Sometimes speakers get faster then it needs an explanation later.

Anyway I'm now hooked on Chinesepod and enjoy their every show. I think it's a great way to learn the language, at least for a newbie-to-elementary level, I haven't touched on higher levels yet. For higher levels I think the best way to learn is listen to chinese radio broadcasts over the Internet, since higher level learners supposedly know all the basic, everyday vocabulary and need more advanced stuff. At least that's the approach I used to take with other languages. Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thph2006

I've been using ChinesePod in one way or another since last May. At first I thought it might be a good focal point for learning Mandarin but decided pretty quickly that it was just too random in it's content presentation to make a good stand-alone course. I tried the premium service for the free week and found it more frustrating than useful, so I didn't sign up. Instead I did a 6-month subscription to the basic transcript service. I highly recommend beginners try the transcripts + podcasts as a supplement to some other more structured main course. What I finally settled on was FSI Mandarin as my main course material and the ChinesePod podcasts as a suplement. It works really well for me. The FSI material is very comprehensive if you don't need to learn characters. There are literally hundreds of recorded lessons which proceed in a very structured sequence and provide enough explanation that you can listen without the texts in front of you (in the car for example). The texts are a gold mine of information though so I try to make a habit of reading them. As others have mentioned, FSI can be mind numbing at times and that's when I take a break and listen to ChinesePod. The two make a great combination. ChinesePod podcasts are very good for picking up snippets of real conversation and they ARE fun to listen to.

PS If I got you interested in FSI I should say as a matter of full disclosure the recordings are 30 years old and after going through digitization the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Also the digitized texts were scanned from typewritten texts so they look pretty bad and there's a bit of out of date content like talking about getting movie tickets from the local street committee! All in all though it's probably the best Chinese course out there, especially for free. You can get the materials here: http://fsi-language-courses.com/Chinese.aspx

Cheers, Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
leosmith
All in all though it's probably the best Chinese course out there

Other than price, how does it compare to Pimsleur?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thph2006

Both Pimsleur and FSI focus on spoken language. In my opinion Pimsleur's strength is in teaching correct pronounciation. The sound quality of the recordings is excellent and they take great care to point out how words should be pronounced. I went through all three levels of Pimsleur and in the end was very disappointed with how little I actually learned. So far I've been through the first 3 1/2 FSI modules (~20%) and have learned much more useable Mandarin than I did with Pimsleur. FSI goes far deeper than Pimsleur and provides a lot of background information on the why and how of the language. I imagine once you've completed it you'll have a pretty decent basic grasp of the spoken language. It also has the advantage of having the texts to fall back on when you can't quite figure out what the recordings are saying (this can be a problem with some of the lower quality recordings). Pimsleur has no text whatsoever for the audio but you can find transcripts of the dialogs and flashcard vocab lists floating around the web.

I know sometimes when something is free it seems like it may not be as good as something you have to pay for but one thing worth keeping in mind is even though the FSI material is free the structure and content of the course are very high quality, designed by the US and Canadian governments to quickly and efficiently train their diplomats (and spys). It's good stuff and it's free because the US govt developed it with public funds and because guys like gdfellows and the crew over at http://fsi-language-courses.com/default.aspx put a huge effort into collecting up all the old materials, digitizing the tapes and texts and then making them available for free! Thanks Guys!

Here's a link to the Pimsleur vocab in ZDT flashcard format:

http://zdt.sourceforge.net/main/wordlist_index/

Here's a link to one of the sources of Pimsleur transcripts. You need to register for access but it's free.

http://www.ezmandarin.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=36

Cheers, Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
leosmith

Thanks Tom,

I've always wondered what the differences are. I'm just about finished with Pimsleur I. I've used Pimsleur before, and am very impressed with the results. But you're right about the quantity - 500 words isn't nearly enough. It's wierd, because Pimsleur goes on and on about how you only need 2000 to 2500 words to be comfortable in a language, and then they only teach you 500. I'll probably slam some vocab after I finish, while working with a tutor at the same time. I don't see myself going through another long audio program - how can you handle it man?

Eventually, I'll crack open my "practical audio-visual chinese". The VCDs come highly recommended, although mine seem pretty grainy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

If I started a VideoChinesepod site would you be interested in it and use it?

I have a couple of friends who like Chinesepod.com because they can put them on their MP3 player and listen to it walking to class. There are others that always like to use it on the Computer so they can follow along with the texts..

Even though Dashan is a bit of a dork, I still like his Travel in Chinese and that other CCTV4 learn Chinese. Most vocabulary I know before but the grammar structures are good even if they can be repetitive.

So If there was an MPEG short vidoe clips for Chinese learning what requirements would you need?

How long would they be?

Do you want exercises to go with it?

Should it cater more to the beginner and Intermediate students?

Should it be pricd on a subscription basis? Or some other lesson basis perhaps?

Could you have a couple of western actors as well as Chinese, or would discredit the pronunciation?

Other things that would work well?____

Have fun,

Simon:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gamerfu

I would ask Chinesepod first, if you could make a website with VideoChinesepod. I have run into a bit of trouble with similar domain names.

Honestly, Western actors are okay. A very famous college textbook at the Univeristiesand Community Colleges is Integrated Chinese by the Cheng & Tsui Company. The DVD workbook has American actors as well as in their textbook.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
leosmith
If I started a VideoChinesepod site would you be interested in it and use it?

Maybe. But why can't someone make good instructional language video that has adult content? This would really keep my interest, and help my memory. It doesn't need to be X rated, but should be pretty racey. That's my wine for the day.

Oh, and if it were up to me, I wouldn't want non-native speakers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Luobot

Chinesepod.com - Does it really work?

There isn’t a clear “yes” or “no” answer to your question. It depends on your personal learning style and the other resources that you have available to you. From the comments on their site that I've read, the listeners who are most satisfied with ChinesePod (Cpod, for short) seem to be those who use it as a supplement only, and not as their main learning tool. There are a number of reasons for this, but I think the main reason is that CPod lacks structure. For example, the podcasts are randomly topical, and one podcast is not related to the next. As someone on their website recently complained, they can teach that ‘ma’ is the question particle a hundred times over because each podcast is stand-alone and doesn’t assume that you’ve listened to the earlier podcasts. Just as you have these redundant overlaps between lessons, you also have the infamous Cpod “Gap” between the elementary and intermediate levels. These problems are the outcome of Cpod’s decision to go without a progressive structure. If you’re using some other resource that provides structure, then these deficiencies may not matter as much, and you can enjoy Cpod for its entertaining style. I suspect that Cpod was designed with this scenario in mind; that is, for those who have other structured resources and just want a more entertaining supplement. Another downside (or upside, if it’s your preference) is that Cpod follows the approach of making you a passive listener rather than an active speaker. Again, if you have another resource for speaking practice you may not care, but you can’t rely on Cpod’s podcasts to help you much there.

A new podcast series that seems to specifically address the holes in Cpod is CLO (ChineseLearnOnline), which can be found at www.chineselearnonline.com I recently took out a subscription to CLO because they offer progressive lessons, full transcripts, and speaking practice opportunities built right into their podcasts. There’s even more speaking practice opportunities on the subscription side of their website. The structure of CLO’s progressive lessons, the full text transcripts plus summary and supplemental transcripts, and the speaking practice are the things that really matter to me the most, and the other subscription-based tools that they have are just icing on the cake. Their podcasts are also free to listen to, and if you decide to subscribe then their premium subscription price of $15 per month or $100 per year is about half of what Cpod charges. So far, they are producing beginner-elementary level lessons, but they will be moving progressively up to intermediate soon. It’s definitely worth trying if you’re at that level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flameproof

I listened to a lesson of www.chineselearnonline.com . Have to say, I do miss Ken and Jenny. CLO sounds (again) dead boring.

I think quite a great part of the success of Cpod is that it's actually FUN to listen to Jenny and Ken. After the CLO lesson I realize how much I like their casual style. CLO sounds like they use material from 1965.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thph2006

I don't think there's any reason to choose one over the other. In my opinion neither is adequate as a stand-alone course, but both are valuable supplements to a broader learning plan. I agree that CPod is much more entertaining and enjoyable to listen to but I've discovered that does not necessarily translate into better learning. I find with CPod I become more focused on the banter, less on the material. With CLO I have the opposite experience; I find I'm 100% focused on the material itself. I also find myself actively participating more with CLO. I think we've all suffered through trying to find the right mix of input in learning this frustrating language. Personally I think the beginner would learn more faster by focusing on CLO first and adding CPOD later on as another supplement.

By the way, I have a theory about Adam's (the CLO host) droning speaking style. I'm guessing he's trying to appeal to an international audience, for many of whom English is a second language. Speaking English slowly and precisely is probably a big benefit to those users.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
flameproof

thph2006

Fair point. I think CLO is well suited too.

It's easy to lose focus and get into all sort of technical discussions about pro and anti, likes and dislikes, rather then just use the material that's available and learn.

Looking back at the material that I got, most often I was just too lazy to go through with it and find whatever excuse to stop. And then later to look at something "new", which finally didn't work out as well.

I am now more aware that the most important input is MY input and without MY input everything else is pretty useless.

Steve Kaufmann's YouTube videos are a very good motivational source.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ziyi star

i think chinesepod really works, but you need to dedicate time to the lesson so as to learn the vocabulary. i just love the vibe of the people that talk, like jenny and aric (he's from the saturday show). :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...