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bchang

Chinesepod.com-Does it really work?

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imron
I've heard of a test called 普通话测试 (I think this is what it's called)
普通话水平测试 is the official name.
I've learned that the Pimsleur, New Practical Chinese Reader and the Teach Yourself courses all use Beijing dialec
Just to be clear, because a lot of people get confused on this issue, these learning materials are based on Standard Mandarin. Beijing dialect is not Standard Mandarin, and there are plenty of differences both in terms of vocab and pronunciation. Standard Mandarin was based on the Beijing (and other northern dialects), but it is not the same thing.

Anyway, that aside, although I haven't listened to Chinesepod for a long time, from what I remember, they teach reasonably standard Mandarin, with the occasional exception that people have pointed out above regarding n/ng etc.

Although personally I don't mind hosts with an accent while they are talking, if you're going to be teaching a specific word (i.e. specifically pointing out its meaning and pronunciation as a point of learning in the podcast), then I agree you should at least be making sure that at the point where you explicitly explain the pronunciation that you get it correct.

but I doubt that the reason he was not understood was due to the ng/n merger.
Maybe, maybe not. kdavid is based in the north-east, the n/ng merger problem is predominant further south. It's not too much of a stretch that it might take someone not used to hearing n/ng mergers a little while to catch on to what was being said, especially if the person speaking normally differentiated between n/ng correctly in other words.

I encountered a similar problem with the word 窄 which I first learnt in context from someone who always pronounced it zǎi instead of zhǎi (this was not the standard zh/z problem because this person would correctly use zh for most words, there were just the occasional ones that he got it wrong - 窄 and 肘 being the main two, despite having no problem with 摘 or 粥). Anyway, when I then used the word later people didn't initially get what I meant even though they had no trouble understanding me for other words pronounced zai or zhai. Those same people also had no problem when hearing the person I learnt the word from pronouncing it as zǎi, because that is the way they were used to hearing him speak, but it was not the way they were used to hearing me speak which is why it threw them off.

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Chinadoog

I like Chinesepod, but the one thing that bugs me is Ken and John aren't really that good at Chinese. Neither of them seems to be able to fluently say more than 1-2 sentences in a row. Ken also tends to pronounce 'xiang' like 'shang' and there are several other blatantly obvious flaws in his pronunciation. John and Ken also say too much English in the Intermediate lessons. The last one I listened to was ''Teaching English in China,'' and John was using English to tell stories of his teaching career in China.

Other than that, ChinesePod is great. I've listened to a couple Advanced lessons for fun, and the guy doing those ones seemed to have really good Chinese compared to Ken and John.

If you're a complete beginner, I suggest using Pimsleur rather than Chinesepod because Pimsleur teaches you how to speak as well as listen.

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chrix

I think that's a bit rash. John obtained a degree in China in Applied Linguistics, you would think if he'd be able to write a thesis in Chinese, he'd be able to hold a conversation in Chinese as well....

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anonymoose
you would think if he'd be able to write a thesis in Chinese, he'd be able to hold a conversation in Chinese as well....

Not necessarily. You may have heard of 哑巴英语, well, there's no reason why there couldn't be 哑巴汉语 also.

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chrix

Are you suggesting that John Pasden is deaf :conf ? And kudos to Chinese universities, I didn't know they'd make accommodations for deaf people, I'm impressed...

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anonymoose

I'm not saying anything about John Pasden. I'm simply saying that being able to speak Chinese does not follow on necessarily from being able to write it.

And I suggest you look up 哑巴英语. It has got nothing to do with being deaf.

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chrix

If it's nothing got to with deaf people, it's quite a discriminatory term to say the least. (though I think the use of 哑巴 itself could be discriminatory)

Well, let's not get too off-topic, you know exactly how I meant my post, and also you should think that Chinesepod wouldn't hire a linguistic consultant who wouldn't be able to hold a conversation in Mandarin...

(Doesn't talk about how he interacts with Chinese people often on his blog? I used the dissertation thing as a shorthand anyways because I didn't want to go dig up posts there)

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daofeishi

I have to agree that Ken's Chinese sometimes seems to be a bit off pronunciation-wise, but criticizing John for not being able to sustain an advanced conversation is fairly out of touch with reality. The upper-intermediate lessons are mainly done in Chinese, and judging from those, if he doesn't speak fluent and idiomatically correct Mandarin, I don't know who does.

John is one of the reasons I keep listening to CPod. He really knows how to put himself in the shoes of a learner, and in the podcasts he always seems to touch upon exactly the right points, those that can be confusing/tricky to learners. He's also a pretty funny guy, and that makes it all the more motivating to keep listening.

Edited by daofeishi

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wushijiao
but criticizing John for not being able to sustain an advanced conversation is fairly out of touch with reality. The upper-intermediate lessons are mainly done in Chinese, and judging from those, if he doesn't speak fluent and idiomatically correct Mandarin, I don't know who does.

Agreed. 8)

Again, I haven't listened in over a year, but it seemed to me that John always had solid insights into the language and culture.

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Chinadoog

Maybe John is intentionally speaking very little Chinese in the intermediate lessons then. In the 20 or so intermediate lessons that I've listened to with him, he rarely speaks more than 1-2 sentences at a time unless he's talking in English. It annoys me that he just doesn't speak in Chinese the whole time.

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Scoobyqueen
John always had solid insights into the language and culture.

He certainly does and is fluent, no doubt. However, he may be aware that he is making the odd tone mistake and therefore does not wish to produce longer sentences where these might show (since he is a teacher after all).

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Meng Lelan
Are you suggesting that John Pasden is deaf ? And kudos to Chinese universities, I didn't know they'd make accommodations for deaf people, I'm impressed...

Oooh it would be great if John would be deaf, if so, my deaf students and I would immediately scramble online to CPod and find out how he does it. A role model for us!

Chinese universities are trying to accomodate the deaf. There are a couple of university programs designed just for the deaf, I think one in Tianjin and the other in Shenyang. Anyone here who wants to correct my memory please do so.

哑巴 itself

This term is still in use in China and I am not going to get into any discussion of how appropriate/inappropriate it is, but I will tell you that 30 years ago any hearing impaired person was called a 聋哑人 no matter how hard they tried to learn to speak and any school for the deaf was called a 聋哑学校. Even some orphanages in China will term a deaf child as a 聋哑 in the physical exam report they prepare for adoptive families. They are starting to drop the 哑 part, however it will take time. A long time. In the US, they were using the term deaf-mute until the rubella epidemic in the 1960s when I was born.

I don't know why John doesn't speak Chinese the whole time. Maybe you can contact him and ask him. Let us know what he says. I've tried CPod in the past when they had video stories and that was the only content I liked because it worked for me in terms of listening and speechreading comprehension.

oooh my 1000th post here, this one! yay for me

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chrix

this will my last off-topic post here in this thread, but it's great to hear that some universities are accommodating deaf students.

Yes, it's my impression also that these terms are still quite common in Chinese. In Japan, all the "traditional" terms for deaf people have come to be regarded as highly inappropriate and have been replaced by other terms, some of which I've seen some organisations in Taiwan use as well. I think we had a thread on this some time ago...

I'm not sure about why he doesn't speak much Chinese in the lower intermediate (I think it was?). As far as I know that has been a topic of debate before, I mean in general the high English content in Chinesepod podcasts in certain levels.

So I haven't been listening much to Chinesepod podcasts, but in the advanced ones where he speaks more, how many mistakes does he make? I think one could easily find out. But in general, I think audio materials for language learners usually try to have native speakers talking most of the time, I know that in some cases, even foreigners are voiced by native students just so learners are exposed to native speakers as much as possible.

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roddy

Sorry about these jokers, John. We all know your short utterances are due to lack of oxygen up there.

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Meng Lelan
We all know your short utterances are due to lack of oxygen up there.

Huh? I thought John was based in Shanghai. Not in Lhasa.

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calibre2001

If I were a Cpod subscriber, I would want value for money for what I pay and so wouldnt be too interested in listening to a non-native chinese speaking Mandarin. His role would be to guide the listener and explain things in a way westerners are used to.

Yeah so it could be about meeting the wants of the consumer

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kdavid
Huh? I thought John was based in Shanghai. Not in Lhasa.

I think roddy is referring to John's height. He's supposed to be pretty tall.

As for those commenting on the use of English in Int and Up Int lessons: If you feel there's too much English, or the level is too low, move it up a notch and try a more difficult level.

One the other hand, CPod could try and make lower-level graded Chinese-only podcasts. That would be nice for lower levels who want immersion.

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renzhe
I'm not sure about why he doesn't speak much Chinese in the lower intermediate (I think it was?). As far as I know that has been a topic of debate before, I mean in general the high English content in Chinesepod podcasts in certain levels.

This is how they structure their levels. At the lower intermediate level, a native speaker (usually Jenny) speaks Chinese, and the English-speaking partner explains in English.

The higher you go, the less English they use (Upper intermediate is generally mostly Chinese, with some sentences in English, and advanced and up is all Chinese, usually with two native speakers).

People complain about too much English at the lower levels, but it's a conscious decision, because they see their podcasts as a tool to learn the language, not as listening practice. Therefore, they gradually phase out English and add more Chinese as you progress.

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Meng Lelan
One the other hand, CPod could try and make lower-level graded Chinese-only podcasts. That would be nice for lower levels who want immersion.

They should, a good idea.

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jbradfor

"See Dick. See Dick run. Run Dick Run! See Jane. See Jane run. Run Jane Run."

Except in Chinese.

Sorry, I know I'm being overly sarcastic, but only-Chinese at the lower level does not interest me much. One just doesn't have enough vocabulary to keep it interesting.

There's another aspect to the "too much English at the lower level" that I disagree with. I spent many years learning English. [As my native language, from birth until college.] Why would I not want to use that when learning a new language if it is more convenient? Some points are just much easier to explain to me in English.

Lastly, if that what you want, there are plenty of other Chinese-only lessons at the lower level, e.g. the Chinese Breeze series. So it's not as if you don't have options.

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