ChinesePod: One Smokin’ Pod

Hey, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to mention the wonder that is ChinesePod, but well, here we are. If you are at all interested in learning Chinese, this is the place to start, linger and finish.

The term “pod”, for those that don’t know, is from Apple’s amazing ability to come up with cool branding – i.e. The iPod. Basically pods are sweeping the net as they are on-demand radio, television and, as ChinesePod illustrates, learning. Coming in any number of formats the standards are generally MP3/MP4 (audio/video), making them easily listened to or watched on a variety of computer software.

Back to ChinesePod. The site offers a new lesson in Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese) each day. Ranging from Newbie to Advanced, all students can find a suitable lesson fit to their personal ability.

They launched mid-2005 and I clearly remember it being touted to me by my former neighbour Matt. I looked at it quicky, but at the time I was still in the “osmosis” stage of learning Chinese – you know, when you sit and hope that just by eating Chinese food and talking to English-speaking Chinese people you might learn the language.

However, I now find it an invaluable tool. For the full service it isn’t free, but you can get all the pods (sans PDF transcriptions and access to the Learning Centre) without paying a fen (note: 100 fen = 1 yuan, or roughly $0.0014 CAN). They have an extensive archive of all their previous lessons, complete with convient ability to leave comments – often used to post questions about the lesson.

I throw a couple episodes on my MP3 player and listen to them on the bus. At first I didn’t notice a huge improvement, but now I find my listening is improving quite a bit, as is the extent of my vocab.

NOTE: For any Chinese readers – there is an EnglishPod constructed in much the same excellent format. Maggie’s been using it to round-out her English… I almost busted a nut when she used the phrase “Da BomB!” yesterday.

In other news, I’ve recently noticed we have a new neighbour. He sporadically appears during the day and makes his presence known to all. While writing this I can hear him calling out to the gods above asking, “Why? … Why? … Why do I haul barrels of some unknown substance saddled with garbage bags. My forefathers bore Mongolian cavalry…. oops. I just made a doodoo.”

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