Chinese learners: where do you get your compelling content from?

Hey LingQers,

I am half way to intermediate 1 on LingQ, and I am at a level now where I am passed listening and reading children’s stories, short news articles and beginner content. I am also sick of LingQ’s mini stories because they repeat the names of the characters in the questions so much that I want to rip my ears off (sorry Steve).

I am finding with my 200+ hours of listening and even more hours of reading that I am beginning to understand a lot more Chinese, but it comes at a price: I have to continue searching for new compelling content.

I am not interested in ChinesePod, Serge Melnyk nor any other “generic” Chinese learning resource that you might have heard of.

I am interested in real, authentic content from Chinese speakers, or content of foreigners speaking Mandarin extremely well (I’m not going to listen to a foreigner who speaks Mandarin poorly, sorry).

Does anyone have any recommendations on what stuff you enjoy?

I already have someone who does transcripts for me in China, so it’s not a problem if the content doesn’t have subtitles.

Thanks a tonne!

(P.S. I have already built up a good library of things that I’ve imported into LingQ, which I am looking to share with my fellow Chinese learners at some point in the future, so that I can give back to the community. Stay tuned :wink:


Hey Edwin,
I’m a Chinese Swedish living in Sweden, speaking English, Mandarin and some Chinese dialect.
What kind of content would interest you?


If you’re ready for a challenge, why not import Chinese dramas from

Also, check out the blog: Learning Chinese Archives - LingQ Blog


The “Chinese LingQ” course is just incredibly good, often very clear and relatively slow while still maintaining natural conversations (though it might have been partly scripted now that I look back at it). Then we have “Chat Radio Transcripts - Mandarin” from the SBS Mandarin radio which in itself is really great, and I´m endlessly grateful for these transcripts.

Then after a while, the internet gets a lot easier to navigate in Chinese and so whatever you´re interested in is at your reach. If there´s any interest I could probably recommend a few youtube channels.


You could search on Youtube for Ted X talks in chinese . If they are subtittled you can import them. It`s a great source for interesting content on a wide range of topics! :slight_smile:


If you listen to music often then I would recommend the apps “Simple radio” and “SPH radio”. I typically listen to UFM 100.3 station for music in mandarin. Viki is also an excellent place for mandarin dramas. Music’s a good way to learn especially because of the repetition of words and melodies are easy to remember (or get stuck in your head).

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Hey daneestone thanks for the offer :slight_smile:

I made a big list of things that I’m interested in, but no need to feel overwhelmed, even one channel of content would be an amazing start, thank you!

Things I’m interested in (that I can think of right now)

  • Self improvement
  • How to let go of the past
  • Getting things done
  • Believing in yourself
  • Growing a business
  • Economics
  • The Chinese housing bubble
  • Chinese government banning Bitcoin exchanges
  • How the Chinese economy works with the west
  • Politics
  • Communist related stuff
  • The way that the Chinese frame what the west is doing (I love hearing their perspective)
  • China’s relationship with Taiwan
  • Philosophy (this might be too complex for me right now though)
  • Zhuangzi
  • The Hundred Schools of Thought
  • History
  • Tiananmen Square
  • The cultural revolution
  • The beginning of time
  • The opium wars
  • Adventure stories
  • Travelling stories (like The Alchemist)
  • “Defeating the dragon”/“Overcoming massive obstacles”-type stories
  • Technology
  • Historic technology
  • Development of technology
  • China’s social credit system (AHHHH!)
  • Shenzhen and its culture
  • Psychology
  • Children’s behaviour
  • Why Chinese people like being in crowds lol
  • Chinese culture
  • Streaming culture
  • WeChat and other popular software in Chinese culture
  • etc.
  • Comedy
  • Xiangsheng (相声)
  • Prank videos
  • Language learning
  • Strategies
  • People talking about their experiences learning languages

No time like the present for a quick LingQ blog plug eh :wink:


Thanks tuv, I see you’re over 14,000 words, which is amazing. What level would you say you started to get more comfortable navigating the web in Chinese?

I still feel quite intimidated by this as I still don’t know much of the “website lingo” and oftentimes characters in titles of things (shows, books, etc).

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Hi Edwin,
You have a fantastic appetite and a lot of energy :slight_smile: I probably should write a book in order to answer you :slight_smile:
Let’s do it stepwise.
Here’s my list of recommendation as a start for you:

· Self improvement
Checkout the following channel on youtube. It is one of the most popular medias in China.
罗辑思维官方频道 - Luogic Talkshow - YouTube
In China, people use the audio APP 得到(dedao). It works very much like a podcast but you may have to pay for some of them. Check it out and decide yourself.

· Economics
Sorry but nothing is at the same time available, creditable, legal and affordable in Chinese language. It is too complex for anyone to have a full picture. Almost the media or propaganda are full of misleading bias. Truth is often banned publicly.
I follow a long list of bloggers on weibo and Twitters myself since a long time, but it might be very difficult for you to start with.
The following writers all have their books translated from English to Chinese. In general I trust their books and you can let me know your feedback. We can discuss from there.
Rob Schmitz
James McGregor
Peter Hessler
Colin T. Flahive

· Politics
This one is even more sensitive. There is a full spectrum of perspectives. The famous national propaganda 新闻联播 (xin wen lian bo = national and global news on CCTV channel) is a starting dimension. A few hundred million Chinese people take it as the major if not the only source of official news.

There is plenty of active official account on wechat and weibo.
Use a neutral smartphone (without much private information), register yourself on wechat and weibo. Then you can search for e.g. 大象公会 and other accounts, I may have a long list of recommendation here but depending on what do you want to believe.
We need to be very careful here if the dicussion draw the attention of ccp authorities.

Try to start with a book:
A Short History of Chinese Philosophy Reissue Edition by Yu-lan Fung (Author), Derk Bodde (Editor)

· History
wikipedia is quite reliable and easy to start with but it doesn’t reveal any deep insight behind all the events. Most books are full of lies if published in China.

· Adventure stories
I would suggest you to start with the following cartoons: (Sorry they are all in Chinese but let me know if you have questions) They are all very authentic and interesting.

阿凡提(puppet series)
猴子捞月(I’m not perfectly sure about its name but it can be found on youtube)

· Technology
You can start by following the following youtuber. I don’t have all the answers for you but a lot of topics are covered here in a neutral but technological perspective.

李永乐老师 - YouTube

There is a biased book 巨婴国. Anyway I recommend you to search for it and read it if possible.

· Chinese culture
What do you mean by streaming culture?

· Comedy
There are full of youtubes but the best ones are always off the TV, unfortunately.
Try 侯宝林 or 郭德纲(Guo Degang ).
The latter one is the most popular one in China.

· Language learning

  1. get a chinese boyfriend or girlfriend who is a talkative person with college degree or above. Blabla all the time.
  2. Live in China or Hongkong or Taiwan for at least 3 months. Immersive learning.
  3. If you want to learn to read or write, start with Cecilia Norman/Lindqvist’s book
    Characters kingdom, Bonnier (1989). ISBN 91-34-50857-0

These are my quick answers to begin with. I need to think how to answer each one of your subjects to give better answers.
Good luck and feel free to contact me.



There are loads of youtubers for more light hearted stuff - however, they all tend to be from either Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan rather than mainland China.

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I guess at around 8000 words it´s easier to browse links and evaluate if the content is of any interest. Though I started searching for certain topics on the web at a much earlier stage, so just go for it :wink: Maybe stick to one topic at a time. Also, don´t be intimidated by titles and such as they can sometimes be more cryptic than the content itself.

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Good post, op. A few points as background :

  1. Coming from an English/western country, you’ll find out pretty quickly that compelling content and Mandarin don’t always go hand in hand. For various reasons, the sheer diversity just isn’t there, particularly with audio visual content.

  2. You’ll also find that, at an intermediate level , it is a massive slog diving in on native content. You’ll need transcripts, to get you along, and if you are paying for these, it will get pricey.

  3. Native podcasts or native chat radio and audio books are the “gold standard” for learning Mandarin, imo. TV is too stop/start , “gappy” in total new word counts , too hard to organise transcripts that you will go over multiple times, and just plain too disengaging in this language… The good news, is that Mandarin is a gold mine for audio books and native chat broadcasts.

  4. You will likely need to engage with “kinda compelling enough bridging content” to get to an advanced level.

When I was bridging from intermediate, I used to keep a running list of all the content that I found “kinda useful / pretty compelling”, and just pulled from that on a daily basis.

This list is very old now , but gives you an idea :

Nowadays, my list is a lot smaller ;
– A few interesting wechat and weibo accounts
– native podcast channels : eg ; or
– Local and intersting (to me) news and current affairs :
–Extra long Mandarin audio books : GoT , and 3 Body problem
– Occasional TV : viki and BTV . Joining a transcribing group on viki is something I’d recommend to an intermediate learner.

If there is one last project I’d like to do on , it would be to do a transcript project for native podcasts along these lines :

But instead of the chat radio content that we did - it would be to do it for mainland podcast content such as ximalaya .

Let me know if anyone is interested here.


I’m interested in doing some transcribing.


Well, I can be a youtuber but I cannot publish all the relevant content without the risk of being in big trouble.


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Do you mean you want to be hired, or you want me to get you in touch with my transcriber?

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