Subtitled Chinese videos: Get the transcript

Did you know Youtube allows you to search for subbed videos and get the transcript?

The method is still imperfect but can be helpful if you want to get a closer look at the spoken text, which then can be copied and translated.

How to search for subtitled videos on Youtube and get the video transcript

The problem is that not all subtitles are in Chinese and not all subtitled content contains a transcript. You can try some random Chinese keywords like “为什么” and autosearch will offer you suggestions.

Add a comment below, if you get lucky or have any suggestions.

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Learning Chinese? 10 BLOGS you should know about

When learning Mandarin, you have to find your own way, but why not profit a little from others who started their journey before you did?

The main reason I visit these language blogs is this: They are a great source for tips & tricks, ideas and inspiration, even free resources like reading materials, cheat sheets, video’s and podcasts. What’s your favorite Chinese learning blog?

When I made this top 10, I looked for four things:

  • Relevance
  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Engaging and fresh content

Here we go!

ONE: Sinosplice

This is a great blog by John Pasden, an expert “who’s been around”. Check out his list of resources and podcasts for learning Mandarin. I put it on number one, because it’s a great starting point to see what’s out there online for Chinese learners.

TWO: Hacking Chinese

Hacking Chinese is a blog by Mandarin expert Olle Linge from Sweden who has studied for four years in Taiwan and teaches Chinese and English. Having a solid background in linguistics, he answers almost all questions related to successfully learning Mandarin Chinese. His main advise for language learners: “If you don’t take responsibility and think for yourself, it will take ages to reach a decent level, but if you become aware of how to learn and study efficiently, fluency is within reach.” Olle also organizes the “monthly extensive reading challenge“. The main goal here is not “intensive reading” but reading as much Chinese as you can below or at your current level.

THREE: Chinese Hacks

Chinese Hacks is a widely-varied blog where you find all kinds of practical advise, ideas and inspiration. I particularly enjoy the Chinese idioms covered on his site.

FOUR: Chinese Breeze

Chinese Breeze is run by three authors who studied Mandarin in China and offer their advise to other learners. This main overview by Kevin Peters, who taught English in Xinjiang for four years, is especially useful for starting learners.

VIFE: Just learn Chinese

This blog by native Chinese speaker Grace (currently living in Toronto, Canada) hasn’t been updated for several years and has some technical issues, but its content and resources are just to great to ignore. If you are looking for free reading material on your level, you might get lucky here. Or look for tips, for example on how to express disagreement in Chinese.

SIX: Sapore di Cina

This blog is actually a lot broader than just focusing on mastering Mandarin. I included it because of its practical tips for foreigners interested in traveling or even living in China.

SEVEN: FluentU

EIGHT: Sara Jaaksola

NINE: Carl Gene

TEN: En Route to Fluency

Related post: China podcasts

Check my post on podcasts about China!

Top 10 Chinese songs for Mandarin beginners

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Here’s a top 10 of Chinese songs that are suitable for beginners. When I say beginners, I don’t mean absolute beginners, but learners with at least a few months of learning experience. Did you know listening to Chinese music helps you to extend your vocabulary and get a feeling for the tones?

Do you have any songs that helped you improve your Chinese skills? Please leave a comment below.

Nr. 1. Teresa Teng – 月亮代表我的心

Teresa sings “月亮代表我的心” (the moon portrays my heart)

For those who do not know her yet: Teresa Teng (邓丽君 (dèng lì jūn), 29 January 1953 – 8 May 1995) was an extremely popular singer from Taiwan. Her fame spread all over Southeast-Asia in the 70’s and 80’s, although her romantic songs were officially banned from mainland China for being to “bourgeois”. Her records could still be bought on the black market though and were played all over China, even in government circles and night clubs. Her fans from mainland China nicknamed her “Little Deng” as she shares her family name (邓) with the communist leader Deng Xiaoping. The saying went that “Deng the leader ruled by day, but Deng the singer ruled by night”.

By the way, she not only recorded songs in Mandarin but also in Taiwanese, Cantonese, Japanese, Indonesian and English. She even spoke French fluently.

Nr. 2. Teresa Teng – 甜蜜蜜

Trying to remember where I saw that sweet smile before

Some people may know the song from the Hongkong movie “Tian mi mi” which was released in 1996. Teresa’s music is featured prominently throughout the whole film; in fact, the cinema classic is considered a “love poem” to the Taiwanese singer. The song is about love at first sight.

甜蜜蜜  Tián mì mì
你笑得甜蜜蜜  nǐxiào dé tián mì mì
好像花儿开在春风里  hǎo xiàng huā er kāi zài chūn fēng lǐ
开在春风里  kāi zài chūn fēng lǐ
在哪里在哪里见过你  zài nǎ lǐ zài nǎlǐ jiàn guò nǐ
你的笑容这样熟悉  nǐ de xiào róng zhè yàng shú xī
我一时想不起  wǒ yī shí xiǎng bù qǐ

Teresas Teng – 甜蜜蜜

Nr. 3. Teresa Teng – 你怎么说

“You can’t even speak my name properly” – Teresa Teng loosing patience with her lover

The reason Teresa’s songs are so excellent for learning Chinese is they are mostly slow love ballads sung with her sweet and clear voice. The lyrics are simple and pure. From a learning perspective you only need basic grammar to be able to follow. Repetition is key here. Soon you are singing along and can impress your Chinese friends in a karaoke bar of your choice.

你说过两天来看我
Ni shuo guo liang tian lai kan wo
一等就是一年多
Yi deng jiu shi yi nian duo
三百六十五个日子不好过
San bai liu shi wu ge ri zi bu hao guo
你心里根本没有我
Ni xin li gen ben mei you wo
把我的爱情还给我
Ba wo de ai qing huan gei wo

Teresas Teng – 你怎么说

Nr. 4. Teresa Teng – 美酒加咖啡

Teresa’s melancholy drinking song “美酒加咖啡”

The idea of mixing wine and coffee or drinking both simultaneously didn’t occur to me till I heard this Chinese drinking ballad. In this song, a heartbroken Teresa assures her listeners time and time again that she is not yet drunk but just brokenhearted and looking for equally grief-stricken company to empty another cup.

美酒 加 咖啡我只要喝一杯 Měijiǔ jiā kāfēi, wǒ zhǐyào hè yībēi
想起了过去又喝了第二杯 Xiǎngqǐlai guòqù yòu hēle dì èr bēi
明知道爱情像流水管他去爱谁 Míng zhīdào àiqíng xiàng liúshuǐ, guǎn tā qù ài shéi
我要美酒 加 咖啡一杯再一杯 Wǒ yào měijiǔ jiā kāfēi, yībēi zài yībēi

Teresas Teng – 美酒加咖啡

Nr. 5. 李娜 – 女人是老虎

女人是老虎

“Women are tigers”. This may be common knowledge to some, but for the poor monk in the song it serves as a warning not to mingle or even come close to the opposite sex as they will swallow him alive. Listen to Li Na to find out what became of him.

Nr. 6. 于文华、尹相杰 – 纤夫的爱

纤夫的爱

The original name of this unbelievably catchy love song seems to be “纤夫的爱” or “boat tracker’s love” and is another gem from yesteryear. I love the epic video clip of the heroic bloke with the glasses pulling the boat with his “younger sister” behind him. ”The virtues of Chinese rural life”, someone commented. The “dangling rope” between them becomes a metaphor for their unfolding love. He pulls her, he sweats for her: This is old-school Chinese chivalry (with “traditional” gender roles), no matter if the male singer (Yǐn Xiāngjié) was arrested for possessing drugs or not.

妹妹你坐船头
mei mei ni zuo chuan tou
哥哥在岸上走
ge ge zai an shang zou
恩恩爱爱
en en ai ai
纤绳荡悠悠
qian sheng dang you you

于文华、尹相杰 – 纤夫的爱

Nr. 7. 于文华、尹相杰 – 天上有太阳

The sun is shining

If you found the last one a bit too hard, try this one. It’s another extremely catchy duet between gege and xiaomei, still breathing the rural spirit of the nineties. As their relationship enters into a more mature stage, gege – in an optimistic and forward looking mood – is wondering how to satisfy xiaomei’s dreams and expectations.

Nr. 8. Joyce Chu -【好想你 I MiSS U】

好想你!是真的吗?

Joyce Chu is a young singer from Malaysia. She changes her outfit and whereabouts just about every second in this clip just to underline how she misses you. It’s the kind of song you can sing along with pretty quick.

Nr. 8. Wanting 曲婉婷 – 我的歌声里 (You Exist In My Song)

Wanting 曲婉婷 – 我的歌声里

Do you hear an English accent? I wonder if Wanting Qu does it on purpose, because she was born in Harbin, China and already 16 years of age when she moved to Canada. Wanting earned a degree in international business and relocated to Vancouver where she began her musical career. “You exist in my song” is about lost love that still lives on in heart and dreams.

你存在 我深深的脑海里
Nǐ cúnzài wǒ shēn shēn de nǎohǎi lǐ
我的梦里 我的心里 我的歌声里
Wǒ de mèng lǐ wǒ de xīnlǐ wǒ de gēshēng lǐ
你存在 我深深的脑海里
Nǐ cúnzài wǒ shēn shēn de nǎohǎi lǐ
我的梦里 我的心里 我的歌声里
Wǒ de mèng lǐ wǒ de xīnlǐ wǒ de gēshēng lǐ

曲婉婷 – 我的歌声里

Nr. 9. 慕容晓晓 – 爱情买卖

慕容晓晓 – 爱情买卖

Murong Xiaoxiao became famous with this poppy R&B song from Chinese street life that even involves some rap elements (I guess that was something new back then). It could be heard allover China on every street corner in 2009 (and afterwards). I heard it often in China when I was there. 买卖 or 做买卖 literally means buying and selling (doing business) and is often used to refer to small businesses and street vendors. In this case, it’s Xiaoxiao’s love that’s been bought and sold and she obviously feels wronged by her lover who thinks love is something that can be purchased and thrown away anytime.

chūmài wǒ de ài bī zhe wǒ líkāi
出卖我的爱 逼着我离开
zuìhòu zhīdao zhēnxiàng de wǒ yǎnlèi diào xiàlái
最后知道真相的我眼泪掉下来
chūmài wǒ de ài nǐ bēi le liángxīn zhài
出卖我的爱 你背了良心债
jiùsuàn fùchū zài duō gǎnqíng yě zài mǎi bù huílai
就算付出再多感情也再买不回来

dāngchū shì nǐ yào fēnkāi fēnkāi jiù fēnkāi
当初是你要分开 分开就分开
xiànzài yòu yào yòng zhēn’ài bǎ wǒ hǒng huílai
现在又要用真爱 把我哄回来
àiqíng bù shì nǐ xiǎng mài xiǎng mǎi jiù néng mài
爱情不是你想卖 想买就能卖
ràng wǒ zhèngkāi ràng wǒ míngbai fàngshǒu nǐ de ài
让我挣开让我明白放手你的爱

慕容晓晓 – 爱情买卖

Nr. 10. 筷子兄弟 – 小苹果

筷子兄弟-小蘋果

This extremely popular song by the Chopstick Brothers “traumatizes” a lot of people on their first trip to China. Imagine getting caught in a massive swarm of elderly women (阿姨) dancing in formation to the beat of “xiao pingguo” and being forced to join their revolutionary movement as happens to numerous innocent tourists every year. Most of them don’t make it back. The upside is though, that the lyrics are plain and simple. Listen to it once or twice and the song will stick with you for days!

你是我的小呀小苹果 Nǐ shì wǒ de xiǎo ya xiǎo píngguǒ
怎么爱你都不嫌多 zěnme ài nǐ dōu bù xián duō
红红的小脸⼉温暖我的⼼窝 hóng hóng de xiǎo liǎn er wēnnuǎn wǒ de xīn wō
点亮我生命的⽕ diǎn liàng wǒ shēngmìng de huǒ
⽕火⽕火⽕ huǒ huǒ huǒ huǒ huǒ

筷子兄弟-小蘋果

Knowledge is power: Sixteen China podcasts you should know about!

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I just tried to find my way through the ever-changing landscape of China podcasts and I can tell you it really wasn’t easy. Podcasts come and go. Here’s an overview of the most relevant shows sorted by topic.

If you are looking for a podcast about learning Chinese, check out the you can learn Chinese podcast. You find some great discussions and inspiring interviews here by the makers of the Mandarin Companion.

One of my personal favorites is definitely The China Africa Project Podcast. If you are into politics and want to broaden your views about China’s engagement in Africa, you will love the show. Another favorite of mine is China Tech Talk for insights into the Chinese tech-start-up scene.

The general idea here: When learning a language, having some topics that really interest you, can be very motivating to keep pursuing your goals.

Current affairs

The ChinaPower Podcast covers critical issues underpinning China’s emergence as a global power and brings together the leading experts on China and international politics. Host Bonnie S. Glaser offers her listeners critical insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by China’s rise.

Carnegie-Tsinghua Podcast discusses China’s relations with the rest of the world and is hosted by Paul Haenle, Director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center based in Beijing, China.

The Little Red Podcast offers interviews and chat celebrating China beyond the Beijing beltway. Hosted by Graeme Smith, China studies academic at the Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs and Louisa Lim, former China correspondent for the BBC and NPR, now with the Centre for Advancing Journalism at Melbourne University.

  • Host: Graeme Smith
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Duration: 40-50 min.
  • Since: 2016
  • For more information click here

The MERICS podcast discusses and analyzes developments and current affairs in China: What is behind the Belt and Road Initiative? What kind of leader is Xi Jinping? How should we assess China’s climate change policies? How does the Chinese government use social media to its own ends? In addition to MERICS’s own staff, other experts on China and guest speakers at MERICS also take part in the interviews.

The China Africa Project Podcast was launched in 2010 and focuses on China’s engagement in Africa.

  • Host: Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Since: 2010
  • Organization: The China Africa Project

History

China History podcast covers 5000 years of Chinese history and is hosted by Laszlo Montgomery. Topics include PRC history and leaders like Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, US-Chinese history, but also the Chinese dynasties, history of tea and even Chinese philosophy.

  • Host: Laszlo Montgomery
  • Frequency: irregular
  • Duration: 40-60              
  • Since: 2010
  • Organization: Teacup Media 2017

Investing in China

CHINA MONEY NETWORK Podcast covers all the news headlines in the China venture and tech sector on a weekly basis live from Hongkong.

  • Host: Eudora Wang       
  • Frequency: Weekly        
  • Duration: 10 min.
  • Organization: CHINA MONEY NETWORK

The Harbinger China Podcast is a monthly Q&A with China’s top venture investors and tech company founders.

  • Host: Tim Chen
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Duration: 40 min.
  • Since: 2017
  • Organization: The harbinger China

Tech

Techbuzz China is a bi-weekly technology podcast about China’s Innovation and (tech-related) cultural trends.

  • Host: Ying-Ying Lu, Rui Ma
  • Frequency: Bi-weekly
  • Duration: 30 min.
  • Since: 2018
  • Organization: Techbuzz China is a part of Pandaily.com and powered by the Sinica Podcast network

Digitally China is a bi-weekly podcast from RADII hosted by Tom Xiong and Eva Xiao, and produced by Jacob Loven. On each episode, the team will tackle a different timely tech-related topic, providing key insights on all you need to know about the fast-changing nature of innovation in China.

  • Host: Tom Xiong and Eva Xiao
  • Frequency: Bi-weekly
  • Duration: 30 min.           
  • Since: 2018
  • Organization: RADII

China Tech Talk is an almost weekly discussion of the most important issues in China’s tech. From IPOs to fake data, from the role of WeChat to Apple’s waning influence, hosts John Artman and Matthew Brennan interview experts and discuss the trends shaping China’s tech industry.

  • Host: John Artman, Matthew Brennan                 
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Since: 2016
  • Organization: Technode

Culture and people

Wǒ Men Podcast is produced and hosted by Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang, who discuss a variety of topics and share a diversity of voices from on the ground inside contemporary China.

  • Host: Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang
  • Frequency: Bi-weekly
  • Duration: 40-50 min.
  • Since: 2017
  • Organization: RADII

Bottled in China brings you into Asia’s food and drink scene through conversations with the some of the most happening personalities. Hosted by Emilie Steckenborn, the show is your one spot for all things food, beer, wine and spirits from across the world.

Middle Earth Podcast brings you first-hand insights into China’s cultural industry and hosts guests who work in China’s marketing, gaming, movie and virtual reality industries.

Ta for Ta is a new biweekly podcast, which captures the narratives of women from Greater China at the top of their professional game. “Ta for Ta” is a play on the Chinese spoken language that demonstrates equality between the sexes. Tā 他 is the word for “he”; tā 她 is also the word for “she.”

  • Host: Juliana Batista
  • Frequency: Bi-Weekly
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Since: 2017
  • Organization: SupChina

Discover your learning style

Starting out learning a new language? If you are new to language learning or want to rethink the process, bear with me for some self-discovery. Knowing your personal learning style will make studying easier and more fun. Non of the four styles match you? I have some advise for you too.

Natural listeners

Do you prefer lectures over reading books and articles? You do a good job at following verbal directions? You don’t really need the visual backup to support your learning?

If you are a so-called auditory learner, you learn particularly well by listening. In essence, auditory learners retain information best when it is presented through sound and speech. If you identify with this type, consider listening to dialogues, vocabulary and music. Build your own playlist and put tracks on repeat. Speak or sing along and try to repeat the phrases. Stop when you feel the urge to destroy your playing device. For Chinese in particular, repetition really will help you to get the tones and the melody right.

“I see what you mean”

Sorry, what did you just say? Can you write that down please?

If you are more of a visual type of learner, you typically process new information by reading, writing and using other visual stimulus. I personally like to write summaries and vocabulary lists, because the visual backup not only helps me to memorize words and sentences I’d otherwise forget in the long run, but also helps my neurotic self to create order out of chaos. The drawing of symbols and pictures is essential in this as well.

Learn characters with pictures

Tactile and kinesthetic

Are you more the kind of hands-on learner who benefits from actively doing something? Then you might feel more comfortable with working with flashcards, tangible objects, and other creative means. As a kinesthetic learner you already know that standing up will improve your comprehension and retention. When you stand up, your body is more engaged and connected to the learning process. Investing in a book stand or standing desk may help you concentrate for longer periods of time and remember more of what you read. You may also consider to do some burpees or jumping jacks in between chapters. Combining activity keeps you energized and cements the language you’re studying in your brain.

The intellectual

Last but not least, there is the intellectual learner. As the name suggests as an intellectual learn you learn best the abstract way. You want to first understand the rules and are not afraid to read rather dreary grammar explanations like this:

Chinese, like English, is classified as an SVO (subject–verb–object) language. Transitive verbs precede their objects in typical simple clauses, while the subject precedes the verb. For example: 他 喝 酒。Literal: He drink alcohol. Translated: He drinks alcohol.

Not my style?

If you got the feeling that non of the above styles or types matches your particular profile? That’s completely fine, since they are only abstracts distinctions to help you orientate. Have you ever met a person who learned language purely by listening to spoken dialogues and other recordings? Would be unnatural, wouldn’t it? Speaking of natural and unnatural: Don’t forget that when we try to learn a foreign language as adults, we are actually kind of helplessly imitating the natural process of language learning that we all went through as children as we mastered our first language. How did that work out so well? Natural language acquisition involves all the senses. It’s both active and passive. All four areas of language skills, that is speaking, listening, reading and writing, develop overtime, but not necessarily in a guided manner.

So taking that into account, you should really try to create your personal mixture of the four learning styles. Know your strengths and keep it balanced: If you like to read, don’t forget to communicate with people. If you are the opposite and prefer learning by conversation and listening, try making notes. It will help you remember fresh vocabulary and keep track of your progress. Challenge yourself by trying some new things!

According to language learning expert Steve Kaufmann, most important of all is knowing what motivates you, what interests you. Note his opinion on different types of learners:

I have never believed that there are “auditory learners”, “visual learners” or other types of learners. I do believe that learners are motivated by different things. It is these different kinds of motivations that need to be researched and better understood.

Steve Kaufmann (lingosteve)

Get some inspiration from a polyglot expert

Language learning legend Steve Kaufmann discussing the question if there really are different types of language learners