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What Chinese Content Do You Watch or Listen to?


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For the past year or so I've been trawling through YouTube for Chinese content to practice my listening comprehension, going from TV shows to Chinese street interviews to vlogs to Chinese lectures.  For the most part though, the content has been quite unengaging and so it's hard for me to keep watching.  That being said, I'm sure the world of Chinese YouTube content is vast, I just have no idea how to seek out the gems hiding within.

 

So what do you watch or listen to in order to practice Chinese listening comprehension?  Doesn't have to be YouTube of course, it could be anything as long as it's 95+% Chinese, the speakers are native Chinese speakers, and their speech is natural (not slowed or simplified).

 

Here are some of the things I've watched/listened to which I thought were not bad:

  •  TV show 有翡 - Not bad for a while, kept me interested for around 15-20 episodes, but starts to get unimaginative and dull after some time.
  • YouTube channel Mandarin Corner - They do interviews with Chinese people on various topics which gives you a good simultaneous cultural exposure along with listening comprehension practice.
  • Animated TV show 全职高手 - Not for everyone, but if you like it you will love it.  Honestly probably not as good for general listening comprehension as TV shows, interviews, or vlogs, but that's compensated by the enjoyability of watching it in my opinion.

 

Honorable mention: YouTube channel Slow and Clear Chinese - doesn't quite fit the requirements here as it's more aimed at the beginner-intermediate level, but the quality of their content is absolutely unparalleled so I have to recommend it to anyone looking for something along those lines.

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On 4/6/2021 at 6:47 PM, Apollys said:

So what do you watch or listen to in order to practice Chinese listening comprehension?

 

I don't watch online videos for that purpose. I watch them to learn more about a specific subject. One of my hobbies is cooking Chinese food, so I often watch videos that show an interesting approach to making this or that dish. I use Baidu and YouTube. 

 

One thing I've learned is that searching English titles in YouTube yields very different results from searching the topics in Chinese. If I search 鱼香肉丝 I am more apt to get authentic results, mostly videos made by Chinese cooks, aimed at Chinese viewers. Instead, if I search using the English name of the dish, such as "Sichuan fish-flavored shredded pork" I will mostly get recipes geared to foreign cooks and foreign tastes. 

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5 hours ago, Woodford said:

my favorite, by far, is 李永乐老师.

 

You must be very smart. I do not understand a word he is saying and his spoken Chinese is the least of my concerns. No matter how non-mathematic a topic sounds, he always ends up with some ultra complex equations on his blackboard which for Chinese are probably 小中学 level.

 

Someone on Lingq recommended this channel and I quite like it:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJPCo6WJCb0aXShfcDDUffg

 

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amytheorangutan
5 hours ago, Woodford said:

I'm subscribed to about a dozen different Chinese YouTube channels, but my favorite, by far, is 李永乐老师.

I subscribed to him too because I have been trying to find something similar to SciShow, Numberphile type content but he speaks so fast and a lot of concept is just too hard to understand in Chinese but some that I could somewhat digest are really good and interesting. 
 

I’m a simple creature I watch tons of cheesy drama and skits like Kevin in Shanghai and Jared and some cooking shows. 
 

I listen to some podcasts: 打個電話給你 and I actually really enjoy 那些你不敢跟老闆說的事 and Talk Taiwanese Mandarin with Abby 

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My favorites are  true crime such as 今日说法. Some other true crime ones are 一线 and 天网。

A recent discovery and new favorite is 老师请回答  There is a panel of teachers and experts and a live studio audience of parents and kids. It's filmed at different schools around Beijing. Each episode features 2 guest families, and the experts help them work through school and family life problems. So brave for these families to be that vulnerable on TV  and there are lots of tearful reconciliations you only hope will be sustained when the show is over.  As a teacher I've found the program invaluable for learning more about Chinese family dynamics. 

All the above shows can be found on Youtube.

 

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16 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

You must be very smart. I do not understand a word he is saying and his spoken Chinese is the least of my concerns. No matter how non-mathematic a topic sounds, he always ends up with some ultra complex equations on his blackboard which for Chinese are probably 小中学 level.

 

15 hours ago, amytheorangutan said:

I subscribed to him too because I have been trying to find something similar to SciShow, Numberphile type content but he speaks so fast and a lot of concept is just too hard to understand in Chinese but some that I could somewhat digest are really good and interesting. 

 

I must confess that Li Yongle probably isn't for everyone. He does talk rather quickly, and his preferred subject matter is skewed towards STEM stuff. I myself come from a STEM background, so maybe I'm just conditioned for it.

I can't casually or passively enjoy it (because my listening comprehension is sketchy at best), but I have to go through a disciplined regimen of listening to each 5-minute segment repeatedly and over the course of days, both with and without the help of captions.

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17 minutes ago, Woodford said:

I must confess that Li Yongle probably isn't for everyone. He does talk rather quickly, and his preferred subject matter is skewed towards STEM stuff.

 

Ha, I'll admit I checked my Youtube settings to make sure I hadn't left the playback speed set to 1.5x.

 

I'd recommend the podcast 原来是这样 for people interested in STEM but who can't keep up with his speaking rate.

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8 hours ago, 889 said:

After someone else introduced it here a while ago, I've really started to enjoy 小叔TV's exploration of Chinese cities and life. His Chinese -- accent and usages -- hits my sweet spot: just like being back Beijing.

 

I was just about to write here how much I love this guy's content. He explores the smaller, abandoned cities and towns and gives great commentary and background. When he travels and records videos, he seems to do his research to deeply understand the place he is exploring and talking about, rather than just going in blind and talking about what he sees. He also does videos where he just talks about a certain topic. I find these ones to be less interesting than the travel videos, but he clearly is a very knowledgeable guy that is fairly open-minded and interesting to listen to. These "talking" videos I find to be better suited for transcription exercises (which I have been doing a lot of lately) than the travel ones, since it is a single flowing monologue and looking at the video is not super important (if I look up at the video I tend to "cheat" and look at the subtitles...).  And yes, he has subtitles on every video, which is basically a prerequisite for me to even consider watching a video in chinese. 

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On 4/6/2021 at 5:19 PM, Woodford said:

my favorite, by far, is 李永乐老师

 

Last year I tried watching a video of this guy, but I was bothered by many errors in what he was teaching.  Maybe I got unlucky and should try another video.

 

 

13 hours ago, suMMit said:

I'm watching 家有儿女😃

 

Yeah I watched over 50 episodes of that already, it's amazing.  刘星 is so entertaining, and his dynamic with 小雪 is really funny at times.  But time to inject some variety into my Chinese language input.

 

 

13 hours ago, Xiao Kui said:

My favorites are  true crime such as 今日说法. Some other true crime ones are 一线 and 天网。

A recent discovery and new favorite is 老师请回答.

 

Interesting, I've never been one for crime stuff but I'll give them a try.  That last one you mentioned is very unique, it makes me wonder how real it actually is (versus being somewhat pre-planned, discussed ahead of time, scripted...).

 

 

13 hours ago, 889 said:

After someone else introduced it here a while ago, I've really started to enjoy 小叔TV's exploration of Chinese cities and life. His Chinese -- accent and usages -- hits my sweet spot: just like being back in Beijing.

 

 Now this sounds like something I have to give a try!

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9 hours ago, Apollys said:

Interesting, I've never been one for crime stuff but I'll give them a try.  That last one you mentioned is very unique, it makes me wonder how real it actually is (versus being somewhat pre-planned, discussed ahead of time, scripted...).

From my own limited experience with Chinese performances and filming, I suspect much is scripted. But there seems to be some genuine embarrassment and usually the experts end up blaming the parents for their kids' problems and some of them look pretty caught off guard. One dad felt ambushed when his wife and the experts were in agreement that he was the problem and walked off stage. 

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17 hours ago, 大块头 said:

I'd recommend the podcast 原来是这样 for people interested in STEM but who can't keep up with his speaking rate.

 

That podcast has joined my list! I'm looking forward to checking it out.

 

10 hours ago, Apollys said:

Last year I tried watching a video of this guy, but I was bothered by many errors in what he was teaching.  Maybe I got unlucky and should try another video.

 

Yeah, I was thinking that might be the case! Often times, when people attempt to speak about all sorts of topics (many of which might be beyond their realm of expertise), they say a lot of wrong things. And I'm probably not educated enough to catch his mistakes. 

Another favorite podcast of mine (for somewhat advanced listeners) is "Steve说." He talks rather quickly, but for some reason, I find him to be one of the most understandable speakers I've encountered. He limits himself to a rather narrow vocabulary, because he mostly talks about family psychology (so you hear a lot of "mother," "son," "father," "sister," "relationship," "love," "acceptance," "conflict," "self-confidence," etc.
 

Due to a lot of different factors, I find some people easy to listen to, and others are impossible. I don't always know why. It must be a combination of topic, vocabulary, accent, articulation, speaking speed, recording quality, style, mannerisms, etc. So sometimes I can understand fast speakers, but sometimes I'm completely lost when listening to some of the slower speakers. 

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12 hours ago, Woodford said:

So sometimes I can understand fast speakers, but sometimes I'm completely lost when listening to some of the slower speakers. 

 

I noticed this seeming paradox myself when I started listening to Chinese speakers. The resolution (aside from factors like accent and articulation that you mentioned) was the realization that often people who speak quickly are able to do so precisely because they are using very simple vocabulary, sentence structure, and style, while those who speak slower often do so because they are putting a lot of effort into speaking carefully, pithily conveying more complicated ideas.

 

In my experience (not to generalize too much of course), I've even noticed Chinese culture tends to promote the "speaking fast is cool" idea fairly commonly, which creates this counterintuitive result that you have a bunch of vloggers speaking super fast but simplifying their speech so much to do so that it comes out quite easy to understand.

 

From an information theory point of view: rate of information conveyance through speech is basically a function of a person's mind and thus relatively fixed.  Words per minute in speech can be changed at will but it won't increase information conveyed per minute.  In fact, increased speech rate will probably decrease information conveyance rate because you spend some mental resources speaking faster.

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I listen/watch shows from China using viki.com - currently watching 'The Blooms at Ruyi Pavilions'. This is on on one of my screens while working and I listen for tones and speach patterns.

 

I've found if I get to drawn into the episode and distracted from work I use the app https://www.ximalaya.com/ and I have content from all types playing in the background. You need to search around to find a speaker or style that you want to listen to, but has been fantastic.

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Apollys
7 hours ago, jezr74 said:

This is on on one of my screens while working and I listen for tones and speech patterns.

 

That's a fantastic way to develop language feel, you're lucky you have a job where you can do that :)

I'll check out the sites you mentioned, thanks for the suggestions.

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