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leosmith

Which of these podcasts do you like best?

Which of these 3 podcasts do you like the best?  

1 member has voted

  1. 1. Which of these 3 podcasts do you like the best?

    • cslpod
      6
    • imandarinpod
      2
    • chineselearnonline
      4
    • no preference
      4
    • other (please explain)
      6


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leosmith

Since Chinesepod stopped giving out free intermediate and above podcasts, I've been on a quest for the best free intermediate podcast. I read numerous posts, and came up with a long list. I threw out the sites that didn't have free podcasts, and posted my reviews of the remaining sites here.

I spent more time with the best 5 of the podcasts, and narrowed it down to 3. I find all of these quite excellent. Although I can, and in fact may, use them all, I'm curious - of these 3, which one do you like the best? Please try a lesson from each before voting.

I want a free intermediate Mandarin learning podcast. I use them for listening practice while I'm out walking. I don't use transcripts. Not including the three I list, do you have a different favorite? (Please don't mention textbooks, videos or native level materials.)

Here is a copy of my reviews of the 3 podcasts:

http://www.cslpod.com/English/Default.aspx

600+ podcasts. Beijing based. Unlike chinesepod, the intermediate lessons are quite comprehensible, meaning they explain most of the non-beginner vocabulary in the dialogues, and use mostly beginner vocabulary in their explanations. Unfortunately, the dialogues are a little slow. But the majority of the podcasts, the explanations, are normal speed. All Mandarin. Sound quality generally good, although occasionally just fair. The lesson I listened to was about 8 min. Free transcripts.

http://www.imandarinpod.com/hoola/

200+ intermediate podcasts. Based in Tianjin, China. Quite comprehensible. Except for the occasional single english word translation, all Mandarin. Sound quality good, although just fair in some of the older lessons. The first lesson I completed was about 20 min. Free transcripts.

http://www.chineselearnonline.com/

250+ podcasts, divided into 5 levels. Taiwan Based. Some rehearsed banter, some repetition drills. Some english in level 3, but no english in the level 4 lesson I listened to. In both cases, the lesson starts with a dialogue, thoroughly analyses it, then repeats it. Sound quality excellent. 10 to 20+ min. Free pinyin transcripts for all lessons, and 4 free complete transcripts per level.

Edited by leosmith

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lokki

I agree that imandarinpod and cslpod are excellent. I am not familiar with the third one.

http://www.imandarinpod.com/hoola/

About 50 podcasts, not catagorized. I tried 3 of these. 2 were monologues, 1 had conversations and discussions similar to chinesepod. All were intermediate, but I must admit the monologues were a little difficult for me. This is definitely a knock-off of chinesepod, music and all, but without the improvizationality. Regardless, they are very good. All Mandarin. Sound quality good. The lesson that I actually completed was about 20 min. Free transcripts.

Just to nitpick on the facts a little, there are actually around 200 of them. I don't find any particular similarities to chinesepod, except the characteristics that would be shared by any language-learning podcast anyway. (though I didn't check if they actually use the same music ?).

The recordings are all-mandarin, bar the occasional translation of a word or an expression in mostly unintelligible English due to the heavy accent - not an issue since at this level you shouldn't really need it, and if you do, the transcript helps you see what they intended to say.

The sound quality was poor on the first few recordings from the beginning of 2007 but has been OK from there on. They are based in Tianjin, not far from Beijing and the accents are very crisp and clear. I do think a student at this sort of level would benefit most from "natural speed" material. The recordings are just a little on the slow side for my liking, but not too much so either. This is just a minor point.

They seem to center a lot on Chinese holidays and festivities and other Chinese traditions. It's fine to learn about these things of course but sometimes it can feel like other aspects of daily life are underrepresented in favor of the traditional subjects.

Edited by lokki

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citambulos

I'm a big fan of imandarinpost, but must agree that they talk too much about holidays, festives, ancient customs and such stuff. More situational and conversational material would make this podcast perfect.

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Luobot

Leosmith,

The following is not accurate:

http://www.chineselearnonline.com/

There are about 20 free podcasts,

Actually, to date, all of CLO's podcasts are free. There are currently 264 free podcasts, with about 3 free new podcasts coming out each week. If you look at their lesson page together with their course outline, you essentially have a pinyin dialog transcript and popup vocabulary review for free, as well.

The reason I purchased a subscription to CLO is primarily for their complete word-for-word transcript, which makes the higher level lessons more accessible to me. ChinesePod doesn't have this even for the love of money (which I know they love, so I can't understand it).

I think where you may have gotten confused is that the first 4 lessons of each level has "premium" content for free. Since they are up to level 5, that totals 20 lessons with free premium content (i.e., 5 levels times 4 lessons = 20).

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leosmith
Just to nitpick on the facts a little, there are actually around 200 of them. I don't find any particular similarities to chinesepod, except the characteristics that would be shared by any language-learning podcast anyway. (though I didn't check if they actually use the same music ?).

You're right lokki. I only looked at the first page of podcasts, and counted wrong. And I jumped to the conclusion of "knock-off" based on the music only. My apologies. I've updated my review. Thanks for your comments.

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leosmith
Actually, to date, all of CLO's podcasts are free. There are currently 264 free podcasts, with about 3 free new podcasts coming out each week. If you look at their lesson page together with their course outline, you essentially have a pinyin dialog transcript and popup vocabulary review for free, as well.

As a non-member, I could only find 20 free podcasts per level. Am I not looking in the right place, or are saying that I can join as a free member and get the other podcasts? Also, I saw that one can download free from itunes. Is itunes membership free?

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Luobot

Leosmith,

Try the bulk download. Unless things have changed recently, it doesn't require membership ... but let us know. It's the easiest way to download all the lessons, assuming it still works.

A good way to download individual older lessons is to go to the Course Outline for a particular level, click on the orange-red colored lesson button for a particular lesson number, which brings you to the lesson page, and download the lesson from there. The Course Outlines can be accessed by mousing over the "Course Outline" item on the menu bar, which is located under the top banner.

On the Course Outlines you can check out the new vocabulary discussed in each lesson (with popup definitions) so you know in advance if you are interested in that lesson. The lesson pages have a pinyin transcript of the dialogue, if the lesson contains a dialogue, or the vocabulary discussed, if it doesn't.

The current lessons can be downloaded on the main page. You can also scroll backwards to earlier pages from the links at the bottom of the main page.

Sorry, I don't use itunes, so I can't answer that question. Maybe someone who does can fill us in. (Of course, you can also go to the CLO site and ask.)

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leosmith
Try the bulk download. Unless things have changed recently, it doesn't require membership ... but let us know. It's the easiest way to download all the lessons, assuming it still works.

I tried this previously. The file downloaded, but when I opened it, I was sent to a login screen. I must have downloaded an html page by mistake or something, because I tried it again right now and it worked. Thanks for the tip.

A good way to download individual older lessons is to go to the Course Outline

This is the way I did it previously. Today the course outline pages for levels 3 and above are down for some reason. It says it's temporary. That's where I saw about 20 lessons per level, 4 of which contained premium content. Good point about the pinyin transcript - I forgot about that. Beyond the 20 lessons on the course outline page, I don't think there's a way to get to older transcripts for free, but I could be wrong.

I updated my review.

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Luobot

It looks like the Course Outline for Level 3 and Level 4 is down for the moment, but I had no problem with the other levels, even without signing in. For example, I went to Level 2 and randomly tried the lesson pages every ten lessons or so. All 60 lessons in level 2 with pinyin transcript appears to be available. But you have to click the orange-red colored button to get to the lesson page. What you can't get into is the premium content, which is accessed by clicking the gray buttons.

In other words, the Pinyin transcript is available for all lessons (not just for 20 lessons), and the premium content is available for free for 20 lessons (the first 4 lessons of each level).

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leosmith
In other words, the Pinyin transcript is available for all lessons (not just for 20 lessons), and the premium content is available for free for 20 lessons (the first 4 lessons of each level).

Let's wait until the pages are back up. I'm pretty sure there are only 20 "active" lessons in 3 and 4, and that there's no way to access the old pinyin transcripts for free, but I could be wrong.

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Luobot

Ok, if you find any like that, let me know what the lesson numbers are, and I'll take a look (not signed on) and verify it for you.

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leosmith

Levels 3 and 4 pages are still down. But I noticed Level 5 is how I remember levels 3 and 4. 23 podcasts, 4 of which have premium content. So for podcasts older than the 23, you can batch download for free, but you have to pay for anything else. There is no free downloading of pinyin transcripts for old podcasts.

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Luobot

This is, hopefully, to clear up some confusion:

CLO is a subscription-based site that earns its keep by selling subscriptions to its premium content, but they offer a lot of free stuff to get you interested.

Here’s what’s free, as of today:

- All of the podcasts in all of the levels are free. (I don’t know if they’ll ever start charging for them, but as of today, I’m 100% certain they are all free.)

- Bulk downloads of zipped podcasts in groups of 10 are still free as of today (but get them while you can :wink: ).

- All of the short pinyin transcripts for all of the lessons are free to read online, as of today (and you can save them if you wish to).

- The course outlines provide a quick vocabulary preview/review with free popups. (The free popups seem generous in this day and age, so enjoy it while it’s there.)

- The first 4 lessons of each level has free, sample premium content.

I noticed Level 5 is how I remember levels 3 and 4. 23 podcasts, 4 of which have premium content.

You can’t go back further than 24 lessons in level 5 because that’s all the podcasts there are in that level right now – but you can go to level 4, which contains exactly 60 lessons, and you can go to level 3, which contains another 60 lessons, and the same for level 2 and level 1. Basically, each level starts with 1 podcast and grows to be 60 lessons in total, after which the next higher level begins. Eventually, level 5 will grow to 60 (free) podcasts, and then level 6 will start. All the podcasts in all the levels are free (with the exception of the additional premium podcasts and video).

There is no free downloading of pinyin transcripts for old podcasts.

Technically speaking, there’s no free downloading of any transcripts. You can read the pinyin transcript right there on the online html page of each and every podcast. There’s nothing stopping you from saving it, if you wish. Note that not every podcast is centered around a dialogue, so some of these free pinyin transcripts just summarize the vocabulary discussed.

"Why don’t they just give you a download link?" someone might ask. They do, and it contains very extensive transcripts, including complete word-for-word transcripts, vocabulary transcripts, language notes, etc. – but that’s what you’re paying for (in addition to their other premium audio and video content and various online tools). Obviously, the site has to earn money somehow, and that’s how they do it.

What I find interesting is that, between CLO's free podcasts, free pinyin transcript, and their free course outline vocabulary popup, you essentially have almost as much as what ChinesePod charges $9 per month for. That’s not to say that ChinesePod isn’t worth $9 per month, but if you also happen to like CLO, then it’s just a better deal.

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leosmith

What I think it was like before doesn't matter. I'll update my review to match what I'm seeing today. 57 of the 60 level 3 podcasts are now online, 4 with premium content. As you said, all 23 lessons of level 5 are online. Still waiting for level 4 to come back up.

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johnmck

As only 4 people have voted on this poll, can one deduce that podcasts are not a popular learning tool?

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Sting

I have a question for eveyrone, if I may. Why do people like podcasts so much? Would it not be better to be able to practice with a real person online? Or there are no good online classes available...Is it because we all use IPods and stuff?:help

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renzhe

You can listen to a podcast on a 2-hour commute, for example.

Also, they can be more useful than a real person for acquiring specific vocabulary. Many of these are prepared beforehand and introduced in useful contents. Often, talks to people you don't know over the internet can be too random, unless you're conversing with a Chinese teacher who prepared a lesson for you.

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imron

Plus sometimes it's nice just to have Chinese listening material, and there are many podcasts (not necessarily learning focused) that provide that.

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