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roddy

Chinesepod.com - Chinese podcasts

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roddy

Came across this on WatchingChina.com - looks like it aims to be regularly updated, downloadable, Chinese listening material. The mp3's are free to download, but you need to subscribe for transcripts / assistance. Anyone tried it? Could be very useful. I've been looking at setting up something similar to this recently, although how viable it is I'm not sure.

Anyway, worth a look I think.

Roddy

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nipponman

Seems useful, sucks that you gotta pay to use the transcripts and reviews though.

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Daan

By a strange coincidence I came across this podcast when browsing iTunes yesterday. I've downloaded all files and they are quite okay. The files focus on getting the tones right and the host seems to be a native speaker of English. A native speaker of Chinese seems to be responsible for the spoken Chinese. The lessons are not too hard, but I like listening to them in my spare time to improve my tones and listening comprehension.

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roddy

I don't know, if it's quality stuff then maybe it's worth it. $30 a month seems like a lot, but if there's one per day, and if the review exercises are good, then it starts to look a lot better value for money. If I'm remembering my names right, the guy behind this is also the owner of one of Shanghai's major English language schools, so there should be a fair amount of resources behind it, and hopefully some educational knowledge. I could (and may still, if I can find the right people) set something like this up, but there would be some significant differences.

Anyone signed up for the free trial? Tell us what's behind the log-in screen :mrgreen:

Roddy

PS Just noticed the pop-ups on the vocab on the right hand side - look familiar to anyone? ;-)

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kudra

I am listening now to the "4 tones" podcast. The native English speaker(Ken?), who is repeating after Jenny, doesn't seem to make enough of a distinction between 2nd and 3rd tone. Hmm. I probably have no business nitpicking, but in this case I can't help it. I don't know how much the English speaker speaks in Chinese in the other podcasts, but make sure you don't model on him.

OK, now in the podcast #17 Initial Client Meetings, the dialog is between Jenny and Ken. So, unfortunately 1/2 the dialog is spoken by a non-native speaker with issues I outlined above.

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trevelyan

Very nice popups.

Its an interesting idea. Hopefully Ken can make enough money to keep doing it, especially since he's releasing the audio under a Creative Commons license. There isn't enough of this sort of learning material out there.

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HashiriKata

I can see the problems kudra mentioned but still admire the guy for his courage to display his weaknesses.

If I'm motivated enough to post some suggestions to him, I think he should as first steps in the right direction

1. set up at least 1 more level (a more advanced one).

2. hire another male for the dialogues to reduce (just to reduce, not eliminate!) his own participation in the dialogues.

I can also imagine that his recording should be beneficial to those Chinese speakers who want to practise listening/speaking English. He could perhaps try exploring the possibility of exploiting this "side-effect".

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ChinesePod

Thanks for the feedback. We are closing watching all the blog/forum discussion and user feedback.

Ken has done a number of radio shows teaching English here in Shanghai, but this is the first time he has tried in Chinese and is very open to suggestions on how things can be improved.

He has been posting a lot of his thoughts on the weblog recently:

http://www.chinesepod.com/blog/

We have hundreds of more shows in the pipeline and they are just going to get better and better.

Please keep the ideas, suggestions and criticism coming.

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Koh-i-Noor

Hi Roddy,

I've signed up for the free trial of chinesepod.com. It is nice I think, especially for free lessons. If you have signed up you can download the different lessons and the transcripts. I don't know yet if there are other nice things as well when you are logged in, I've just started...

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amandagmu

With my semester ending here, I'm just starting to browse around and trying this out. I agree, a bit too much in English I think.... however, how else can you explain slang/swear words? I mean really, it's hard to explain to someone who's not a native speaker without just translating something that essentially means "you're mental, you're crazy". Anyways, who cares about the transcripts and extra stuff. I have enough fun just listening to the mp3s, and if you have at least a half-decent grasp on pinyin you can look up what Jenny says in a dictionary for the characters.

They are fun. I would recommend them to people. I'm using them to practice while doing other work on my computer, but I could also take them on my ipod when I workout.

Amanda

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snarfer

I love the idea. However, for thirty dollars a month I would expect an actual hour of Chinese every day. Even the Intermediate lessons are predominantly in English. And repeating the dialogue, why do it when we can rewind anyway? These are, at best, five minute lessons with tons of filler. I honestly find the chit chat in English annoying.

Here's a suggestion:

Produce an all-Chinese set of lessons in a slide show format. The new ipods can support it. Illustrate new words and concepts with pictures. Sure you're limiting your target market technologically, but you're also expanding it to include non English speakers.

Some language scientists maintain that it takes 2000 hours of exposure to native speakers in order to develop fluency in another language. I'm willing to try whatever is available to augment my exposure. Unfortunately, material that is only 25 percent Chinese is not an efficient use of time.

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in_lab

There is no way that Chinese speakers are going to pay for a podcast used to learn Chinese. There are so many free resources for learning English that it wouldn't make sense.

Instead of including a slide show, a more low-tech solution would be to provide a crib-sheet for each chapter. If you want to use it, you just print it out. I guess they have transcripts. That sound good enough to me.

If they had advanced lessons, I would consider paying for them, but there probably isn't much a market for that.

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snarfer

I would not consider myself an advanced Chinese student at all. I have only studied for 3 months. But this was ridiculous.

Of course Chinese speakers won't pay for Chinese lessons. Why would they?

I would pay for Chinese audio books if there was an accompanying text with key terms translated. I have found classical Chinese texts, but I would like more contemporary work.

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beirne
Even the Intermediate lessons are predominantly in English.

I've noticed that the Intermediate lessons have more Chinese in them than when they started, and they have also gotten harder. What I get a lot of good out of is that Jenny now tends to speak in Chinese even when she isn't reciting the dialogue. This gives me a bit of Chinese immersion that is helpful. I wouldn't mind snarfer's all-Chinese idea, though, although the iPod format won't work so well on my Palm. :-?

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atitarev

I want to say thank you again for the work on ChinesePod.com. :)

I want to share with you my wishes and thoughts about what would be good to have.

2 things:

Anyone heard or read about "Hiragana Times" (Japanese) and "Special English" (Voice of America, USA)?

Both are targeting people for learning their language and culture (Japanese and American English). It actually works!

1) Hiragana times publishes popular texts in both Japanese and English - it's always dual-pages, besides that all Japanese texts are accompanying Hiragana (phonetical syllabary) and sometimes Romaji (Rōmaji), which are much easier to read for beginners or people who can only speak but not read kanji. The texts can be quite interesting if you want to learn the culture and peculiaries of the Japanese society and to learn/brush up/practise Japanese.

To opponents in reading romanised or simplified, not original text. It really brings all Japanese learners of different levels together and makes a comlex Asian accessible to all. It is useful for advanced learners as well, so they can pick up some new words without using the dictionary - the text has English translation and the pronunciation is given.

I am critical to Chinese dictionaries that give examples to the main entries in Chinese with translation but no pronunciation is given. You will say, learn characters! but no, that's what the dictionary is for - to learn new stuff.

2) VOA's "Special English" publishes and gives audio recordings for texts made in very common English - only the words are used that are in common use, no complicated, rarely used words (e.g. instead of " to withdraw money" - "to take out money" is used) and the recordings are made in a slower speed with good pronunciation. The English broadcast becomes available to hundreds of millions of people whose English is just above beginner's level. They can read and listen to interesting topics and learn the news in a simple way.

Both things are fascinating and I think people could make money by promoting Chinese language and make it easier to learn - you know, not everyone is able to master it quickly.

Why there are hardly any comics available in dual script - Chinese and English, and why they are never accompanied by pinyin (you can get some books but they are not many)? BTW, there are plenty dual-language comics in Japanese or many of them have Furigana (pronunciation written above or on the side or have both features).

I am not saying - let's not learn characters, I am saying, let's make it easier and enjoyable, if you are able to read a lot of text with pinyin help, it's easier to pick up grammar, vocab and expressions than if you're struggling to find pronunciation of the characters and you cater for those who just wants to learn to speak and understand spoken language - believe they pick up a lot of characters on the way.

If you have lots of text in "Special Chinese" - texts written in a simpler Chinese, very common words, accompanied by audio - exactly like VOA does, many more people will be able to reach intermediate and advanced levels in a shorter time.

I vote for promoting better ways to teach and learn Chinese and variety.

You ask me who's gonna do the job? Well, here's the idea and if you're fluent in both languages... Somehow, "Hiragana Times" and "Voice of America" made it worthwhile.

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snarfer

Just for the hell of it I went back to the chinesepod site to see what they were up to. Evidently they are working on some "advanced" lessons. We will see. Then I noticed that they have an English learning version too, Englishpod.

I thought that as Chinesepod seems to be almost entirely English dialogue, Englishpod might be almost entirely Chinese dialogue. "What a great learning tool that might be," I thought, "all those discussions of English idioms, all in Chinese."

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Englishpod, at least the episode I downloaded, has not a word of Chinese in it.

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jfranco

Actually, I think even if you aren't in a position to pay for the fee to access the transcipts, just listening to the mp3s available is really helpful. I don't have an ipod, but I can listen to them on my PC, so it is just as good. I listen to many of them at work during my breaks and then just take notes with my Chinese word processor.

I think the website is easy to use and they break up the material in to easily digestable chunks without making it too dry. I heard about it through my Chinese professor at the University of Minnesota. I've encouraged a couple of other students to use it. It is a good way to enhance your vocabularly outside of the classroom.

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roddy

Has anyone tried the advanced lessons they're now producing. I also noticed this morning that John Pasden of Sinosplice.com has joined them, which can only be a good thing.

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in_lab

I wrote a review of the advanced lessons after listening to the first two. Since then, I've listened to 4, 5, and 6. Of those, 4 and 5 weren't really advanced, but 6 was the most challenging one yet. It seems like they took the advice about loosening up with the pronunciation and atmosphere of the program.

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