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bchang

Chinesepod.com-Does it really work?

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Luobot

@furyou_gaijin -

Yes, some people just like to take photos – as many as possible – while others gain a fuller sense of satisfaction from the social aspect of communicating about it (more so with language learning, as it’s inherently about communications). Some emphasize the destination. For others, it’s more about the journey. Nothing wrong with either.

Constructive criticism of Cpod (as well as any resource) serves a useful purpose and should be encouraged. It results in a better product in the long-run, which we all benefit from either directly or indirectly, as the bar rises higher for all.

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furyou_gaijin

@Luobot

Some emphasize the destination. For others, it’s more about the journey.

Absolutely, and both groups have the right to follow their preferences. I only sometimes wish there were different names for their activities.

Constructive criticism of Cpod (as well as any resource) serves a useful purpose and should be encouraged

Very true. Yet the title question 'CPod - does it really work?' is hardly well-formulated...

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roddy

Moved Geek Frappa's post and replies to here. Looked at moving some of Luobot and Furyou Gaijin's but thought they were a bit too tied up with the actual topic. However, can I ask that when you find yourself writing something like

Discussing individual learning styles is rather out of place in this thread

you stop yourself and at least consider writing something like

I realized that I was spinning off on another topic, so I started another thread

instead - focus is good, new topics are free.

Furyou, you say you never considered using the premium features. Was it a case of 'looked at them, didn't think they were worth it', or did you have your own ideas about what you wanted to do and so felt they wouldn't be any help.

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furyou_gaijin

@roddy

Yes, I have looked into CPod's premium features and they just don't fit my study pattern. New vocabulary is introduced as individual words whereas I prefer to create my own flash cards with longer units, like, for example (from one of their lessons):「重視自己的外表」and use no English on them. Examples they give for each word are somewhat interesting but the same and more can be obtained from www.dict.cn. And I don't think that other exercises with matching words and filling the gaps are useful at all.

A lot of what they do (such as their new feature called 'Fix') is highly reliant on translation which I don't think is of any use when learning a new language. So I don't want that as part of my routine.

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zippy

Does anyone know which dialect of Mandarin is used by Chinesepod?

I've learned that the Pimsleur, New Practical Chinese Reader and the Teach Yourself courses all use Beijing dialect, but I can't seem to find any information pertaining to Chinesepod.

I'd be surprised, if it didn't use Beijing, since it seems to be used by most courses aimed towards westerners. I just wanted to know for sure, before I decide which course to embark on.

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anonymoose

The mandarin on Chinesepod is not Beijinghua, but it is quite standard.

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renzhe
Pimsleur, New Practical Chinese Reader and the Teach Yourself courses all use Beijing dialect

All of these courses (and ChinesePod) all teach standard Mainland Mandarin. Also known as Putonghua.

Beijing dialect is similar, but quite different in many ways. AFAIK, nobody teaches this.

For learning Cantonese, look at http://cantonesepod.com/.

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kdavid
The mandarin on Chinesepod is not Beijinghua, but it is quite standard.

It is quite standard, but not perfect.

The biggest flaw I've found is that many of the hosts do not pronounce words ending in "g" correctly.

For example, 学生 is pronounced xue2shen1, 课程, which they say everyday, is pronounced ke4chen2. They also taught the 称王称霸 chen1wang2chen1ba4. These are just a few of many examples.

I love CPod and think the content is great, but I'm really upset that I can't just listen to a podcast first, and then later read the transcript. There are too many pronunciation errors.

For example, the straw that broke the camel's back: I learned the word 争气 from a podcast. Because the hosts said zhen1qi4 and not zheng1qi4, I learned the wrong pronunciation. When I used the word, no one understood what I was saying.

As such, you need to read the transcript and know the correct pronunciation of these words before you listen to the podcast. Otherwise you may learn the wrong way of saying the word.

On top of all of this, I've seen comments on their board which raise this issue and it appears they've done nothing to correct it. Why can't their hosts just say words the correct way? They are supposed to be selling standard pronunciation....

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renzhe

I didn't really notice it while listening, but it does make sense, as they are based in Shanghai.

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kdavid
I didn't really notice it while listening, but it does make sense, as they are based in Shanghai.

I've let some Chinese friends (all native Harbiners) listen to a couple podcasts. Aside from the issue mentioned above they also all say that some hosts overuse the 嘛,呢 etc. sounds as well. As such, they have a tendency to end some words on a second tone that aren't supposed to be second tone.

Despite all this I still listen to CPod. It's the best content out there. However, as a pronunciation Nazi, I'm super annoyed that I have to second guess and double check what the hosts say on occasion.

Edited by kdavid

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wushijiao
For example, 学生 is pronounced xue2shen1, 课程, which they say everyday, is pronounced ke4chen2. They also taught the 称王称霸 chen1wang2chen1ba4. These are just a few of many examples.

Maybe I'm just crazy, but it seems that even in southern accents in which the "g" of the -ng is effectively dropped, there is still a difference in sounds between, say, "sen" and "seng", subtle as it is. Although, perhaps I'm wrong on that.

Overall, however, I'd say that the accents are really close to de facto standard Putonghua, if not right on the mark, especially when you look at the wide spectrum of accents out there.

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kdavid
Overall, however, I'd say that the accents are really close to de facto standard Putonghua, if not right on the mark, especially when you look at the wide spectrum of accents out there.

I completely agree. However, is it really too much for CPod staffers to say to their hosts, "Look, you're not doing this right. Fix it."?

I've heard of a test called 普通话测试 (I think this is what it's called), which all want-to-be broadcasters (television, radio, etc.) must take and pass in order to become a host of a show. The idea is to ensure that whoever is on TV is capable of speaking flawless Mandarin. I don't think it's too much to ask people who are supposed to be language models to do things right.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for listening to different accents as a medium to practicing listening. Realistically, there are very few people you'll run into on the street who speak flawless Mandarin all the time. However, as a language model, whom learners are supposed to emulate, the hosts shouldn't be making these errors. No one seems to be addressing a what should be rather simple issue to resolve.

Anyway, I'll stop ranting. :oops:

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renzhe
Maybe I'm just crazy, but it seems that even in southern accents in which the "g" of the -ng is effectively dropped, there is still a difference in sounds between, say, "sen" and "seng", subtle as it is. Although, perhaps I'm wrong on that.

No, you're right. In some cases, the difference is not just in the -n and -ng sound. Chen and Cheng do sound different, even if you merge the coda.

The most tricky ones are -in and -ing.

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Don_Horhe
I've heard of a test called 普通话测试 (I think this is what it's called), which all want-to-be broadcasters (television, radio, etc.) must take and pass in order to become a host of a show. The idea is to ensure that whoever is on TV is capable of speaking flawless Mandarin. I don't think it's too much to ask people who are supposed to be language models to do things right.

That's the way it is, in theory at least. Yesterday I was listening to the radio in the taxi and the broadcaster had a really heavy Wuhan accent, which made me wonder how she got the job in the first place. She probably took the test, got the job, and switched back to Wuhan Putonghua. This is the case with some of our teachers - they have taken it 2-3 years ago and now their Putonghua is crap, mostly hypercorrection - dòngchí for 动词, shuǒyǐ for 所以, putting -ng finals everywhere, so 今天 ends up sounding as jīngtiān, etc.

Yes, I'm attending a 师范大学, in case anybody wondered. :roll:

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leosmith

(this is regarding their intermediate podcasts):

10) A lack of willingness to listen to their paying members regarding just about anything

9) Stubbornness of their staff regarding their education theory. There are a lot of people who don't buy the random-wandering-through-the-podcasts-is-the-best-way-to-learn theory of theirs. Lots of members are just trying to get listening practice. Those members are not listened to. Some members want to study to podcasts systematically. Those members are not listened to. etc

8.) Jenny. Sorry, there's just way too much of her. As other posters mentioned, she mispronounces n/ng frequently. I also don't like her inconsistency pronouncing "eng" words. These wouldn't be a big deal, but as I said, there's way too much of her, and not enough other commentators.

7) The Chinese commentary after the dialog is too advanced - often harder than the dialog. A short comprehensible dialog followed by a long incomprehensible explanation is of limited use.

6) In an effort to be "trendy", most of their podcasts are negative and many are downright depressing. I personally find it difficult to learn from negative material. For example, a long series about some poor 'ol geezer who is being forced out of his job by office politics, a long series about beauty contest where everybody is evil and corrupt, a long series about a guy getting dumped by his unreasonable girlfriend, etc. About 3/4 of their podcasts are negative in this sense.

5) there is only one Chinese commentator explaining the dialog. Podcasts with 2 or 3 are so much nicer to listen to.

4) No line-by-line translation. A quick translation right after the dialog makes a podcast much more comprehensible. The weird broken up way they do their translations now is almost useless to me.

3) Way too much english. Cpod has way more english content than any other podcast I'm aware of. This is a big minus at the intermediate level, where learners benefit more from exposure to chinese which isn't frequently interrupted by english.

2) It's not free

And the number 1 reason cpod bites (drum role)........

1) There are so many better podcasts out there which are free

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chrix

I honestly don't get what people are so hung up about. A standard language, especially in such a big country, is nowhere near as rigid as you seem to want it to be :conf

Local teachers and local news stations will have their share of local accents.

Not that I can't partially understand the gripe about ng/n, as it's a violation of the official standard to merge ng and n, but nevertheless many Chinese people speak Standard Mandarin like that.

EDIT: on second thought, thinking how pervasive as it is, what's wrong about merging ng and n?

Suppose you were an English teacher in China, and you would be one of those who'd do the "cot"-"caught" merger. Should your students complain about you because you don't speak standard English?

Edited by chrix

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daofeishi

I've been using Chinesepod for a while, and although there is room for improvement, I just want to add some comments to what you just said, leosmith :)

10 and 9) I think complaining about the format is counterproductive in this case. I really value consistency in the teaching methods, and you get that with CPod. You know what you get from the start, and if you don't agree with the way the podcasts are organized, move on. I personally think this is a great approach to learning the language, and so do many other users who keep coming back for more.

8) There is a lot of Jenny, but she isn't the only one on board. I find that there is enough input to weed out the personal idiosyncrasies of the hosts. To me, the odd mis-pronunciation is a non-issue. To ask for a flawless teacher is asking too much, and if you go to China and study Chinese the way the Chinese learn it - from people who all have their own dialectical differences - you'll find the same problem. I'm not even sure if the term "flawless" makes sense - flawless by what standard? If you want to learn Chinese as it is spoken in China, you have to get used to the blending in of dialectical variant forms, non-standard pronunciation of certain words, etc, etc.

7) If it is too advanced for you, you are listening to a podcast at a level you are not ready for. Step it down a notch.

6) This sounds like something that could be rectified by Prozac :roll:

4) See 7)

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leosmith
it's a violation of the official standard to merge ng and n, but nevertheless many Chinese people speak Standard Mandarin like that

That's a good point.

I'm studying a little at TLI in Shanghai. I have one teacher who "mispronounces" n and ng. She's consistent in pronouncing a given word the same way each time, but will pronounce n as ng and vice versa, depending on the word. I've pointed this out to her, and she insists that she's pronouncing it right.

I have another teacher, in the same school, who nags me about my n and ng. Even though I'm pronouncing them right to my ear, she says they aren't distinct enough. She's got me what I feel is overcorrecting to make the endings sound more distinct.

My point is that while some native speakers don't seem to care about the issue, others are very concerned. And I believe the poster who said he wasn't understood because he pronounced them differently.

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chrix

I wasn't there, but I doubt that the reason he was not understood was due to the ng/n merger.

There's countless other factors, like wrong tones, or other pronunciation mistakes, or misuse of the term in question, or sociolinguistic factors like using a word that native speakers wouldn't foreigners expect to use etc.

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renzhe

I think that Jenny rocks. She is the most pleasant podcast host I've listened to (though I'm not an expert on podcasts). She does pronounce things in a non-standard way occasionally, but she's far from speaking bad Mandarin.

As for correcting native speakers, it can be tricky, as there are face issues involved. If you really want to make a point of it, bring a quality Chinese-Chinese dictionary with you. But don't do it often, or you'll look like a prick.

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