How to overcome Chinese listening issues

Forget characters and tones, listening is - in my opinion - the hardest challenge when studying Mandarin. Homophones different accents and unfamiliar names can slow down our progress significantly.

On this week’s I’m Learning Mandarin podcast I had a great discussion about reaching high levels in Chinese listening & getting used to different Chinese accents with blogger and Mandarin learner Lei Lei. Check it out here: Mastering Chinese Listening with Lei Lei (Podcast) – I'm Learning Mandarin

How about you? How do you tackle Chinese listening? Share your tips below :slight_smile:


Curiously, I just recently stated elsewhere that I perceive listening comprehension to be the main hurdle to overcome when learning Chinese. So this is a timely post, thank you.

As for practicing this skill, it is often said that one should listen a lot, especially passively, that is without looking at a transcript. My problem is that when I just listen, my brain seems to tune out, it’s like listening to a waterfall. I assume the reason is my lack of comprehension, or a case of the monkey mind.

So I have come up with an idea, to re-use the the Shadowing technique by Alexander Arguelles, which is well known and, I presume familiar to most here, to practice listening.
Usually, I try to shadow a bit every day, typically using familiar lessons, that I have worked through many times.
Normally I read, speak and listen at the same time.

But it has occurred to me that just listening and speaking might sharpen the senses, and force me to pay close attention to the sounds. It also tends to keep my mind on the job. Further, this practice also makes any deficiencies in listening comprehension painfully obvious, because, when I don’t understand something, I can’t say it, I have no recourse to the text, that might have helped me out otherwise.

I can not comment on the efficacy of this method, I have just recently started experimenting with it. But I thought I might as well share it, maybe someone else wants to try it.


I try to listen to things that I can actively listen to, which requires vocabulary to be high enough to comprehend. Afterwards, I passively listen to content that I have already actively listened to. Makes the progress go a lot faster than I thought. The more listening, the better regardless.


Hi Michilini, congratulate that you have a great process on Chinese listening. From my experience, I had a difficult time speaking Englsih, and then I found out a difference between two languages, imagine that you are singing a rap song when speaking Chinese, every words need to be split clearly. Then transferred to English, I connect every words together, like a river, to make it sounds more smoothly. Hope this may help a little for Chinese listening.

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