ChinesePod and me
ChinesePod has been generating buzz online for some time among those of us who are interested in new methods of studying Mandarin Chinese, and yet you haven’t heard a peep out of me about it (OK, maybe one peep). There’s a reason, so let me explain.
When I first discovered ChinesePod months ago, I thought, “that’s kinda cool, but a podcast a day? Let’s see how long they can keep that up.” Well, they did keep it up, and the buzz grew.
Then I got an offer to join the ChinesePod affiliate program (a form of advertising that pays only when people sign up). I was interested, but I also didn’t want to throw my support behind ChinesePod just yet. I already had Google ads in my archives, but because those are targeted to content, you’re not actually endorsing any particular product. With ChinesePod it would be different, so I wanted to be sure I really liked the product. I wasn’t personally interested in the content because the intermediate lessons were too easy and there were no advanced lessons then. I was a little too busy to check out the service at that point.
Well, at about the time ChinesePod started producing advanced lessons, they also contacted me and asked if I would be interested in working with them. It sounded like a cool opportunity, so I met up with ChinesePod for a chat. I was quickly sold.
The product as it stands now naturally has its shortcomings, but the team is well aware and is working hard to improve it. Virtually all my initial criticisms of the site are already being dealt with, and in fresh, innovative ways. Furthermore, the company is so open to criticism and feedback it’s scary. It even cares about theoretical linguistic foundations. I know I sound like a cheesey commercial, but the ChinesePod team and plan just impressed me that much.
Anyway, now that I have joined the ChinesePod team and will play a part in influencing its development, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fully support it. It’s good stuff, and rapidly getting better.
So, yeah. ChinesePod and me.
Wow, this is like the Dead Kennedys doing a Levi’s Commercial. I never thought good ole’ Sinosplice would sell out!
Sell out? This is exactly the kind of job I want. I can’t be a student forever.
It’s not like ChinesePod is going to start dictating Sinosplice content or anything like that.
Thanks for introducing it, I didn’t know about it and I’ve wanted a site like this for a long time. First time I’ve found good audio dialogues at all levels for free in 3-4 years of learning Chinese.
Congrats, John (now I don’t have to keep it a secret).
Agreed. There is a serious dearth of quality Chinese learning audio, even in stuff that you pay for. Finding it for free makes it doubly nice.
I enjoyed your interview in the ChinesePod News episode, John.
I’m not all about the advanced yet but for those that are really advanced you might be able to learn by checking out the sister site, EnglishPod.com.
What we all want to know is of course: Is Jenny as hot in real life, as her sexy voice implies in the audio files?
I actually haven’t met Jenny yet, but there’s a picture of her on the ChinesePod wiki.
ChinesePod is great, in a different league from Pimsleur and the Rosetta Stone. It gives you the stuff you need to know, and might actually use every day. Congratulations!
wow.. impressive. they finally contacted you ….. I was kind of thinking they might, as David mentioned you to them… hope they worked out something new with your help. 😉 Congrats !
John, does this mean that we’ll be hearing your voice in future recordings?
Good for you John. You have the acumen and assidousness to do it.
I’m looking forward to hear your voice on ChinesePod. What’s kinda job will you do?
Welcome to chinesepod John. First thing you will have to do is submit your ‘Tones” to be analyzed and dissected. After that if you still wish to continue I look forward to your helping me. I have followed your site for a couple of years as I first travel to China and Taiwan fequently and now live in Taiwan.
Maybe Jenny is really not a real person. She is an anime created by Aric the Producer. She almost seems to perfect to be real.
What’s with the Jenny-worship, folks?
Great news John! I think you, Ken and Hank share very similar visions. I’ll hang around on your coat-tails if you don’t mind.
Can you share some of your ideas on the challenges you see for Cpod, especially in ramping up the intermediate/advanced areas. How do you see applying ‘applied linguistics’ to the learning process, or do you see this as separate approach/route from the ‘meaningful input’ Cpod formats from Ken.
Congrats again, おめでとう
It is a psychosociological phenomenon peculiar to ChinesePod. It warrants further study.
Mark, Michelle, Lantian,
I’m not really at liberty to say too much right now about exactly what I’ll be doing or how I’ll be doing it, but I will be working on the academic side of things.
Thanks to everyone for the support!
I dunno, it creeps me out. It’s like, the otaku are migrating from Japanese to Chinese.
Buonas díaz senora Micah,
It’s really all very good-natured and friendly. I mean, studying Hanzi and how to use the passive particle ‘bei’ is not the most thrilling thing in the world.
Nah, Micah, despite the stabilizing gender balance online, it’s still one of the fundamental laws of the Internet that the sole female member of any group will attract a fan club.
[…] And last, but not least theres Sinosplice: When I first discovered ChinesePod months ago, I thought, “that’s kinda cool, but a podcast a day? Let’s see how long they can keep that up.” Well, they did keep it up, and the buzz grew. […]
belated congrats. I think Chinesepod is a good idea, but like you say, there are many kinks. I’ve listened to several of the podcasts and I think the accents are not particularly standard–yes, I mean everyone’s new goddess Jenny. Typical southern mandarin, but you’re a convert…for example in one lesson they taught ‘nervous’ as ‘jingzhang’ rather than ‘jinzhang’. Also I noticed it is quite pricy: 30 bucks a month for full access? It would be nice if they instituted a student rate-if this had been out when I was a college student, I could never have afforded it. They had one program where these two western guys walked around a Chinese market. Their Chinese was of a very low level, and even though Chinese pod put out a disclaimer, that is not something I would wish to present to people as a lesson.
Since you’re on the academic side of things, maybe you can make some good changes. And I noticed you wimped out on your interview by not using any Chinese…for shame, sir!
I think it’s great. It may have it’s problems, but it’s a wonderfu resource. The podcasts are always free, which is a plus, and the 7 day free trial period has been enough time for me to print out the pdfs I want. I have condifdence your contributions will be nothing but beneficial. I look forward to it!
My two favourite Chinese-related websites are ChinesePod and John’s Sinosplice. So to see these wonderful resources combined is a bit of a dream come true. So I’m excited to see the fruits of their co-operation.
I was hooked on ChinesePod from the beginning. My shelves are full of Chinese textbooks, collecting dust because of their tedious and obsolete content. ChinesePod, on the other hand, has a distinct fresh feel to it, and the length of each episode exactly matches my walk to work.
I agree with Prince Roy’s pricing concerns. 15 bucks a month would be more reasonable. Of course you can just abuse your first free week to download all the lessons you require, but I think many of us would happily pay for a subscription – if the price was just a notch lower.
And yeah – and Jenny is a charm. 😉
I’ve only listened to a few of the podcasts, and I don’t know how often they use non-native speakers speaking Chinese on the podcasts, but if they ever do, I don’t know what they are thinking. Learning any foreign language from a non-native speaker is a gigantic mistake. You’ll never undo the damage, as so many students in China and Japan can attest to. Otherwise, they seem ok so far.
Here’s my review after checking chinesepod today:
I have downloaded an intermediate lesson. First thing you are greeted in ENGLISH. The Chinese person also presents themselves in ENGLISH. “I am Jenny”. Are those at an intermediate level not expected to understand “I Am” in Mandarin?
The tones used by the Chinese person are very unimpressive to say the least. I would not hire her as a private tutor. It’s like she was thinking about ENGLISH while she was speaking Mandarin or something like that. Anyhow, the above commenter already stated this. I would not listen to their casts if only for this reason — her bad “tones” and pronounciaction. I am very dissapointed by this.
Not only this, but it followed by the English speaker in ENGLISH. Why is it necessary for the student to her this repetition from a native English speaker (I hope) in an unaccurate Mandarin? What does this achieve exactly??
Botom line: get a grip, focus on Mandarin and dump the Enlish wherever you can. And decent Mandarin as much as possible.
At Chinesepod there’s already been a huge debate on several topics which seem to polarize people:
1) hearing/using native vs. non-native speakers/models, does it help or mess up a learner
2) tones, is it south, north, non-standard, does hearing an incorrect tone prevent learning the proper tone
3) price, too much, too low, just right
4) dialects: too southern, not standard, does it matter in the end?
5) fun/entertainment/colloqial versus patterns/academic/correctness: what’s the balance?
6) traditional versus simplified characters
It seems with this linkup there’s a whole new audience, with some of the really advanced Chinese speakers here, and the academics too, will be interesting to hear the perspectives. And John’s when he’s unmuffled!
This is a PAID service declaring itself being able to assist in teaching Mandarin. If you repeatedly listen to these pods, that seem to use the same people, obviously what you hear will effect you. I have serious concerns if this Jenny has spent all of her life in a Mandarin environment on the Minaland. It just doesn’t feel like it.
1) When you learn a “second lanaguage” is your goal to have an accent similar to that used at the destination or something else? Is your goal to have an accent of an “educted person” or someone from “the street”? Depends on your goals. Is your goal to speak mandarin with a French accent? I can find you a tutor 🙂 Is your goal to spean Mandarin hevily influenced by Shanghainese dialect? Fine, the site owners should clearly state on the site what the customer is getting.
2) huh? So you will listen to their service with “incorrect tones” repeatedly, than try and learn the tones from somewhere else? Doesnt make sense mate. There is nothing to debate here.
4) Yes. Do you want to learn Putonghua, NIngbo Hua, Shanghainese or some other dialect?
5) That’s a personal taste. I’d go with fun for sure. HOWEVER in this case bubbling in ENGLISH does not qualify. if if you cannot do it on beginner level in Mandarin than do not do it at all.
Chinesepod seems to be OK, but they need to get some proper speakers of standard Mandarin.
Also, was looking over the vocab lists in their wiki. I know, student-generated etc., but what’s with the whole thing of spa cing each cha rac ter like it’s a se pa rate word?
Anyway, would love to hear more about what you’ll be doing. You should have a podcast called “Extreme Pedagogy” where you rip BLCU and Integrated Chinese new rear exits.
I agree with muchof what Roy says in his critique of Chinesepod. But I’d like to clarify my own comments.
1) native/non-native instructors: To my way of thinking, as long as a person has decent pronounciation, it’s not really an issue whether or not they are a native speaker, at least at the elementary level. There’s Da Shan, who we all know and love for instance, and another newcomer from the UK, Daniel, on CCTV 4 these days, whose Mandarin is actually even better than Da Shan’s, at least it sounds more natural to me. I wouldn’t hesitiate to tell my students to model themselves after these guys. The problem is, there are relatively few non-native speakers who have what I consider adequate pronounciation. Those guys in the lesson I mentioned for instance: I’m sure they are serious students of Chinese and are trying their best to produce the sounds/tones accurately, but there is no way they should be language models at this stage, for anyone. A student may as well listen to the fumbling classmate sitting right next to her. DO NOT use beginners as models for other beginners. That should be a cardinal rule.
2) tones: I agree with John on this. Tones will make or break you in the ears of a Chinese listener. Get over it, realize they are critical, and do your best. Many Chinese from different regions do not have standard tones (people from Zhejiang for instance), but they do speak a native dialect of the same linguistic family as Mandarin. This means they will have intonation, stress, syntax, etc that will identify them as ‘native’ to another Chinese. We also have to learn these same things, but they are much harder to accomplish than tones.
3) pronounciation of Chinesepod broadcasters: I don’t want to belabor this point. Jenny and the other lady are obviously southerners, but their putonghua is standard enough, for the most part. The company is based out of Shanghai after all. However, at the end of the day I do come out on the same side as Roy. I think most people who will shell out $30 a month for this service expect to receive instruction in the most widely accepted standard of putonghua. Like it or not, this means northern pronounciation. I think an acceptable compromise would be for Chinesepod to hire presenters from Beijing or other northern cities. I would retain the current presenters as well. It is important, after all, that a student receive exposure to several accents, even at the beginner level.
This is all great feedback, and I’ll definitely be tackling many of these issues at ChinesePod. Thanks to everyone for the candor.
Regarding the video podcasts, I think maybe they’re not so much for instruction per se as for encouragement. The message is: “even with busted-up Chinese, you can still communicate with Chinese people.”
I think the idea is: “learn from the Chinese voiceover, but watch these learners’ attempts for amusement.”
I can certainly also identify with concerns about using beginners to teach, though.
While we’re making requests, I’d like to see some more stuff at the advanced level. I’ve recently started watching an old production of 茶馆 and reading the script side-by-side; something similar – scenes from movies, maybe – would be great, especially in dealing with various colloquialisms that never get explained otherwise.
It’s true that students should be exposed to a range of accents, but there’s a difference between being exposed to something and being told to imitate it. I’ll play clips of Philadelphia accents for friends studying English, but I’d never tell them to emulate them.
If you’re going to be hiring a northern speaker, go for someone from Harbin. There are some Beijingers with very standard Mandarin, but if we’re talking about people who’ll actually use standard Mandarin in natural speech, Harbin’s the way to go in my book. Going back up there is like walking into a massive language lab.
I told you my plans for a course called 朋客中文, yes?
Some of the people who are least likely to need Chinese lessons are expressing concerns about a new (to them) style of teaching and learning, and the occurrence of perceived imperfections. While some learners might agree or have more rigidly traditional learning expectations, I can’t imagine it being more than one or two of them, these days, and certainly not I.
When a teacher comes over to my side of the room and sits down beside me, that shows respect and a sincere wish to work with me to a common goal. Then I will start learning, rapidly, all that they have to offer. In audio, you do this by addressing me in my own language and we move into and out of the new language together, as friends, as fellow adults with something to share. If you hate that approach, that’s OK you have a couple of centuries of learning resources that might suit you, but this way is good for me. Real good. I don’t have to like any part of the ‘master slave this might hurt but it is good for you trust your teacher never question the master you will never hear an error’ approach in order to learn exactly what I want, when I’m ready and primed to take it in, and in a way that motivates me and leaves me feeling both entertained and enlightened and wanting more and more. I challenge anyone under voluntary duress to learn a tenth as much or as well.
Please realise that I am a fully grown human with life experience and common sense. A beginner is teaching me? what a joke. Like most beginners at anything, it is confidence-building and socially rewarding to see and hear and be in the company of other beginners. Indeed, I find being in the company of more advanced and perfect Chinese speakers a strong turn-off. Any completely Chinese-only situation risks leaving me feeling frustrated and helpless.
If the presence of a beginner’s error splattered voice is such a big daaaaaaaanger, then all classroom teaching should be banned. Lighten up and enjoy the videos or ignore them, and if you’re more advanced with your own Chinese please don’t patronise the beginners amongst yourselves. We know exactly what’s going on, and we love it, just the way it is thank you.
Yes, AuntySue, the highly-tuned advanced learners who are “anal” enough to bitch about small errors in tone or pronunciation are not dealing with the reality of us 95%. PA–LEESE, look at the professional diplomatic and business class who are actually profiting from language/cultural prowess, and you will find that the reality of language ability is far from the perfect standards touted by some self-congratulatory bloggers. Let’s be realistic about learning to communicate and live more harmoniously with others instead of putting up barriers that will motivate possible cultural agents to do nothing but speak their native language out of fear of “committing” errors.
WEll it’s NOT necessary to find a person from Beijing or other northern cities to teach Standard Chinese. They have their own dialect as well… To test one’s Chinese you could go for Putonghua Shuiping Ceshi . If a person passed 87 points, she/he should have no dialect traces , with occassionally slips on retroflexion or curling tongues. To be a Chinese instructor you have to be at least over 87. And to be ordinary broadcaster you have to be over 92. There are a lot of CCTV announcers/broadcasters/anchors who are not from northern Cities at all, but they speak very standard Chinese, even more standard than some northern people. So the places don’t matter but their language accuracy matters.
There is a difference between being taught by beginners and being around beginners, “AuntySue”. I enjoyed being in a class of international students (all of us were beginners) in which we had to speak Chinese to each other because it was the best way to communicate and help each other study. Koreans, Russians and Germans certainly have different pronunciation difficulties than Americans. However, I was really glad to have Harbin-native teachers. I didn’t want to pick up bad habits from my classmates, so I only emulated my teachers.
I would no sooner learner how to speak Chinese from Da Shan (best case foreigner scenario) than I would learn English from Jean Claude Van Damme. Also, “Aunty,” no one is saying no English should ever be spoken. You can find native Chinese speakers who speak English. The point is that the non-native speakers (aka beginners) shouldn’t be teaching anything in Chinese. I’m sure it is easier to learn things incorrectly. For example, it is easier to match the pronunciation of your fellow beginners, because you are both likely making the same errors, so you feel like you are making greater progress, when in fact all you are doing is solidifying bad habits.
Annie, Al, Jack, I strongly agree with the cautions expressed in your responses, in general terms. Surprising as it may seem, I do actually know the difference between my teachers and my playmates, and so do the other students as far as I can tell. Chinesepod makes us critics, not sponges. If you think there are any problems with the crazy Chinese in video hotpot, for example, then it is you, not I, who have trouble distinguishing between the teachers and the students. Don’t let it worry you.
Aunty Sue, don’t group me with Al or Jack , please. I only said : not all people from Beijing speak perfectly, people from other places can too ! Of course they might need more training as they are influenced more by their dialect. I am talking about DIFFERENT issues.
Hi Those on the Side of: Let’s Hire Two Harbin’ers And Listen to Boring Podcasts about ‘Can you use chopsticks’ and I can’t tell it’s Ken talking in Chinese vs. Jenny in Shanghai–which pretty easily on the map I can tell is NOT Beijing.
And since I’m in China learning Chinese and want to create the perfect learning environment for myself, I’ve decided based on your recommendations to stop talking to anyone not talking in standard Harbin post-graduate CCTV pitch, also I will monitor very carefully any conversations amongst mixed company and instruct all non-native Chinese speakers to stop talking in Chinese so I can listen to the Harbin’rs talking about Harbin. If there are Beijining’ers I will also ask them to stop the heavy drawl that they have. I will also ask people to stop mumbling, coughing, and spitting.
And I’m going to open up my audio-mixer software so that I can edit out the THREE repititions of the dialogue that the native speakers say in each podcast and compress it into just one lest there is any variation in the three separate recitals. Also, from now on I will only listen to all-Chinese instruction which is available to me at the advanced level because I would like to be totally clueless as to what anyone is saying. Yah, I think I’ll just watch Chinese t.v., unless it’s a show rebroadcast from Hong Kong.
Additionally, I’d like to ask ROY to listen to more than one podcast before inserting such a strong opinion. The reason one is greeted in ENGLISH in any of the levels is because the podcasts go out FREE each day to over 10,000 listeners, most of whom cannot speak Chinese–hence the learn Chinese aspect of the show–so the show politely welcomes them in English before switching to mainly Chinese. And I must ask, Roy–are you Barry, John or Jane? (If not, just ignore the query) And Al–are you Roy? Did you really study in Harbin? On the corner of Fei Hua lu, what’s the name of the department store?
Additionnally plus one, since most of this debate has gone on over in Cpod already, can anyone here suggest something new and remotely interesting or creative about what they would actually DO or CHANGE to do what Prince Roy identified as “they will have intonation, stress, syntax that will identify them as ‘native’ to another Chinese”. Besides being reborn in Harbin. What have they done to learn to speak in a natural and fluent way?
What components contribute to a learning environment that can teach a natural and intuitive lexis and grammar that produces ‘fluent’ speech and which holds and retains a high-percentage of it’s students until they reach that level? So far the whole modern history of Chinese language instruction in China, Taiwan and the world has seemed to only have produced THREE high-level speakers: Da Shan, Daniel and John P. Or are there others? Is it you? For those of us less gifted, what helpful tips do you have?
My apologies to John P, if I’ve inadvertantly turned his Sinosplice into Talk-Talk Chinesepod.
Last couple of items, Annie has her own voice, let’s not lump her in with others. And I totally LOVE you AuntySue, you explain things so well. I just argue.
哎呀，我说那么多嘲笑废话，对不起。不过，大家能告诉我怎么提高我的中文水平吗？ 我觉得Cpod很好听。我可以每天听多次，我不管这些发音的事情，应为我觉得无所谓，他们的聊很有趣。而且Ken老师是老外所以他就是能想出来老外学生们的问题和好好告诉我们在那里应该小心一点和能帮说出来我问题，应为我听播客的时候我不能问，如果是两个中国人肯定他们想不出来老外的问题。很多Cpod学生们 已经让Ken不说中国话，所以现在在中级课文他很小说中国话，不过Roy也问为什么在中级他用英文！ 我一个人觉得他不说中文是大家的后悔，
Hmm..I wonder how the Chinese I wrote will turn out, seems many characters have dropped? Oh well, it’s mixed up enough–another few missing here and there might only help.
wow, about 1 in 4 characters dropped out in my Chinese comments. Pls ignore it, it’s too hard even for me to read. How come John? I’m using Firefox on a Mac with encoding in Chinese Simplified/Unicode, no problem with the Cpod blog/comments.
I started writing a comment, but there was too much to say. I wrote a review of Chinese Pod on my own site. In short, cut the English from intermediate and advanced pods, cut back on all the branding stuff and sound effects, and don’t use a poor speaker of Chinese as a regular feature of the pods.
Congratulations on the job, though! I’m sure you’ll improve the company quite a bit, and I hope you oust Ken as the foreign host! Those people saying you’re a “sell-out” are nuts. Unlike political allegiance, ethics, etc, job skills are SUPPOSED to be sold.
Oh well, if you do not care about the tones etc and you reckon the repetition will not effect you (“repetition makes permanent” etc.) go for it. And good luck for the site.
Just to make a point, if they had the English/Mandarin thing fixed, I would happily pay for their services because the idea is fantastic.
Oh and I did listen to plenty of pods since. I’m sorry the tones/accent/english-mandarin issue is just not good enough for MY personal goals.
Again, goodluck to you all.
Hey Lantian, (sorry to be off topic a bit everybody) your using FF on a Mac. Have you tried downloading and installing the Adsotrans userscript for Greasemonkey? I absolutely can not get it to work. If you’ve got it working would you mind helping me to troubleshoot a bit? My email address is kevin.in.china at gmail dot com.
It seems you critics haven’t been listening to the podcasts lately. There is almost no English in the intermdidate lessons now. The host guy has pretty much cut out the danger of getting his tones wrong by not speaking much. Besides , the idea that you would suddenly get bad tones at an intermediate level from just one source seems pretty dumb to me.
actually chinese pod is a way radical creation. its easy for you dudes to sit there and pontificate. it’s got its faults, but show me something better and i’ll abandon chinese pod.
that dude who wrote the review came across as condesending, and superior. it came across as if he was like ‘Hey, the world has been waitingf for me to write this review, man’. he was just totally wrong about so much. What a loser.
Sorry, the greasemonkey script didn’t work on the Mac. I haven’t tried it on a PC yet. All I get on the mac is a little greasemonkey icon in the Firefox lower right-hand corner which I can toggle on and off, but after highlighting some text it doesn’t redirect to Cpod and add to the Wordbank. Bummer.
Sorry you feel that way, Sharon. What you read in the review was just my personal opinion. I really am interested in improving my Chinese and helping my friends do the same. I also hope that some constructive criticism (that I know for a fact at least one employee read) could help improve the product. Maybe you should write a review yourself and tell us what you feel the strengths and weaknesses of ChinesePod are.
Actually, Lantian, I think the Adsotrans Greasemonkey script isn’t supposed to redirect to CPod, but rather provide annotated translations of Chinese characters on any website by querying the Adsotrans database when you mouse over a character. Thanks for trying, anyway. If anyone has got it working on OS X I’d love to hear from you.
Hi Kevin S,
You’re right about the Adsotrans GM script. I was referring to it’s use at the Cpod Vocabulary Builder section where they’ve written a custom script to use GM to import into their Grammar Bank.
Someone out there make it work for a Mac!
Hi SharonB2, and Mark,
It kinda bums me out that Ken doesn’t speak much Chinese now on the podcasts. I really do find the podcasts much less effective and interesting to me than before. I turn much more these days to Jenny’s short blurb at the beginning of the Englishpod lessons to get some friendly Chinese. The advanced Cpod lessons are too hard for me. (And frankly it kinda bores me to hear Ken’s English now, I used to pick up a lot from their previous interaction in Chinese, of course minus Ken’s pronunciation)
Anyway, I can totally tell everyone here likes learning Chinese, so it’s like we’re all “In violent agreement” on what’s important, studying Chinese! It is way too hot where I am today, 93 F or 34 C, yowsa.
Sorry, I was only lumping you with the others to acknowledge all the replies. If it made you look like one of the party poopers that was not my intention! You provided additional valuable information, thank you.
Jeez, this thread has taken off hasn’t it. I never realised that so many people who have no need for Chinesepod would be so interested in writing so much about why others shouldn’t enjoy it either. I guess you have to expect these things in the business world.
From the latest cast:
乖 你要乖一点。 You should be a good girl.
你可以过来吗？ Can you come here?
你不可以过来。 You cannot come here.
Ok, can anyone (other than sales-pitch-AuntySue) fine the problems in the above? Did anyone notice the MASSIVE usage of 被？
John, before you go into “supplements” how about you first help them (and us) with the basics?
(John, what encoding are we suppossed to look at your site in? I’m not sure if all of Roy’s Chinese characters showed up or showed up correctly? )
@Roy. You’re referring to the April 13, 2006 菜鸟79 Baby Talk #2 episode right? The phrase I heard was ‘darlin’ come over here’ aka ‘bao bao guo lai’. Where was the ‘bei’ usage you mention? You’re not referring to the ‘bao bao’ are you?
The show’s main dialogue reviewed:
A: bao bao, guai
B: bie, tao qi
A: bao bao, guo lai.
B: bao bao, bie peng na ge
A:bao bao, dan xin
In the review exercises, is it the following you refer to?
A: ni bie guo lai
A: ni keyi guo lai ma?
A: ni bu keyi guo lai
My apologies for not writing in hanzi, the browser/encoding is proving troublesome. Are you saying they should have used ‘bei4’? (agent in a passive sentence). I don’t see anything wrong with the grammar, and granted also it is a lesson about ‘baby talk’.
What is Roy talking about? There’s nothing wrong with the sentences that he is freaking out about. It is perfectly good Chinese.
Then he has another problem ‘the MASSIVE usage of 被’? Yeah??? It’s supposed to focus on language, cos its a lesson in Chinese. What is your problem, dude?
Roy sounds like the big kids in school, trying to act cooler than everyone else and trying to show that they know more than we know. This includes the insults to people (‘sales-pitch-AuntySue’) who are just trying to learn. Is that supposed to be helpful, as you claim?
Nothing could interest me less than knowing that Roy or his type knows more than we do. It’s not news, it’s not interesting, it doesn’t make them any cooler, or any more attractive to the opposite sex. Stop acting like a teenage show-off and contribute something positive. Jeez. And stop sucking up to John, as if he’s the bigger kid in the playground. Obviously John knows more than you do – that’s why you suck up to him. But now he’s going join chinese pod, are you going to call him out on that, too?
Hehe you’re a funny kid, but please feel free to ignore my comments in the future. Thanks.
I’m using “Chinese Simplfied” encoding, not sure what the code is…
Hint: check out the English part of the translation, not the Chinese part.
ChinesePod is obviously doing something right – Slate says that it’s what all other language learning podcasts should aspire to be…
I am stumped as to what this Roy is talking about!!!! Now the English is wrong!!! This is just weird. Roy, speak up, please.
@Roy. I have not a clue what you’re talking about, in Chinese, English or martian.
Forget it. Roy doesn’t deserve any more of this food.
The difference in English between “Can” and “May.”
Considering frequent confusion regarding the usage of 可以 会 能 such examples should be done with extra caution.
Roy, I agree that this is weird:
I use can that way myself.
Chinese Pod is an amazing learning resource for Chinese. There really should be one of these for Korean learners, but I haven't been able to find one. If anyone knows some good Korean listening resources I would be eternally grateful.
Congratz on the new gig, John. I personally really enjoy the ChinesePod site and am also an affiliate. For that they gave me a free 6-month membership. I like the new layout they made for the review lessons. I also frequent the new forum that Bazaa made. The site has really helped me to improve my Chinese. I do agree that the Mandarin that is spoken doesn’t sound like what I hear on a day to day basis, but I live in Beijing. My girlfriend told me Jenny sounds like a foreigner. These days I just have her read the dialogue transcripts and I record her. I really wish they would make a “Beijing Hua” edition or something. Anyway, glad that you are a part of their team now. I really enjoy your blog.
It’s great to see that more talent is added
to the pool which ChinesePod have made
a splash in.
I’ve told students about it just to tune their
ears to somemore Chinese, to complement the
CDs I produce for them.
Although it’s not ALL Chinese, it’s free and
readily available so jiayou John!
I visited Chinesepod a number of times before I found out John was working for them, but I’m hopeful that he can encourage them to improve on the academic end of the production. Right now they’re an entertaining listen and particularly as a high-elementary learner myself, good for new vocabulary; but one thing that has irked me is Ken Carroll insinuating his own busted Chinese into the conversations…because his pronunciation is really bad and he often has to spit it out a couple of times before he even gets close.
But I like the site and I’m hopeful that things will continue to improve!
From my blog:
What is the biggest mistake that people make in learning a language? Without a doubt, it is learning from non-native speakers. I’m reminded of this because I just signed up for a 7 day free trial of Chinesepod.com. I was very interested to see the dialogues. Looking at the .pdfs, I could see that a lot of the vocabulary in the advanced lessons was new to me and I even looked forward to strengthening my fluency in some of the more basic lessons. Unfortunately, Chinesepod.com isn’t just disappointing, it’s shocking. First, what does Chinesepod.com do right:
Unbelievably, most of the dialogues feature heavily accented foreigners interacting with a native speaker!!! Crazy! Objectively speaking, my own Chinese is probably only a handful of grades better than the main character. But the point is that I would never, never, never teach someone else Chinese! Even after another five years learning Chinese, I would never do something like that. This is an unfathomable linguistic malpractice. No wonder then, so many people never manage to speak a foreign language with any fluency. The worst part is that what Chinesepod.com has done is destroy the best advantage of learning from audio and video: the opportunity to learn from a pure source without having your accent, idiom, and stresses tarnished by fellow students.
Once on Peter Hadley-North (author of The Silk Road and ornery bastard)’s email list, someone cheerfully (and stupidly) opined that Da Shan, the famous Canadian foreigner, can speak Chinese better than “99% of the natives.” This powerfully stupid sentiment, if really believed, might account for thinking that it is ever a good idea to learn from a foreigner. Let’s get it straight. No one can ever speak a second language as well as a native speaker. There are perhaps a few rare geniuses in history of whom this was not true. The Pole Joseph Conrad whose novels are justly in the canon of English literature, the Indian savant who reportedly learned Chinese at age six and in a few months was composing classical Chinese poetry. Unless you’ve written the great novel in your adopted language, that ain’t you. Of course, this should not discourage us from trying to speak a language as well as possible, but it is the height of hubris and poor judgment to teach someone a language that is not your own.
Da Shan, nevertheless, has a great series of VCDs, the collected broadcasts of China’s CCTV series Learning Chinese. Da Shan speaks very little and when he does, with effectively no trace of accent. I recommend this series to anyone learning Chinese. The four part set is more than fifty hours of material, comes with a book, and costs about $20 a set. It’s great value. And you won’t forever damage your speaking ability by using it.
Chinesepod.com has a good idea. And it has an easy fix: just eliminate the foreigners. Why they haven’t, I don’t know. The idea may be to make the lessons more inviting for beginners. But if so, it’s a poisoned chalice. In the future, we may be able to tell Chinesepod.com consumers by their mangled accents. Chinesepod people! That would be a shame. Ditch the foreigners, Chinesepod.com.
I think you have a valid point, but there are some key points you forget:
ChinesePod has foreigners in the podcasts, but the model for pronunciation is always a native speaker. The foreigner is there as a guide, not as a model speaker. Most people like this format. Obviously you don’t, but ChinesePod can’t please everyone.
The higher the level, the more you will hear from the native speakers in Chinese, until at the advanced level there are no foreigners and (usually) no English at all.
I also find it amusing that you hold up Dashan’s “Learning Chinese” series as an example to learn from, because it’s pretty universally regarded by teachers and students alike as not very good. It’s also not free.
First off, thanks for responding and for acknowledging that what I wrote has some merit. I have not used the Da Shan videos very much, hence the guesstimate about the # of hours, which may be way off. I’m referring to the “Communicate in Chinese” series, by the way. I got onto Da Shan as a tangent about why it’s a bad idea to learn from foreigners. And I stand by that. I taught in Taiwan and my co-teachers were great speakers of English by and large, but they all had flaws in their pronunciation, inflections, and grammar. And we’re the same way in Chinese. It’s like Rumsfeld said, there’s known unknowns and then there’s unknown unknowns. (I’m the opposite of a fan of that lunatic, but it works.) Well, the problem with learning/speaking a foreign language is that there are the screwups and lacunas that you know you make/have and then there are the screwups and lacunas that you don’t know you make/have. That problem is pretty insurmountable.
What you say about the show may be accurate, that the foreigny influence is being phased out. But I downloaded about 20-25 shows, and with the exception of one show that was on the 8 schools of cuisine in China, they all had the foreigners. P.S. I loved Jenny in that show, she cracked me up, but that show was a monologue, not a dialogue. She needs to give her partner some room to chatsky.
I see where you guys are coming from, I think the concept is basically a good one, but part of hitting the big time is dealing with criticisms like this. And if you really want to be the go to source for Chinese vocal skills, well, to be frank, you have to step up your game a little. You’re doing great stuff for a small house and we all know how crappy most of the Chinese language materials (and schools) out there are. But first do no harm.
My suggestion is that you split off the foreigners into seperate chats about grammar and personal anecdotes about learning Chinese and mishaps therein. The idea that students need someone to identify is part of my problem with having foreigners in the dialogues. When I was a teacher, I would be frustrated with the pronunciation errors in my kids’ speech. One day, I had an epiphany when I watched a well intentioned parent try and do some practice with their kid. Sure enough, they were mangling almost every word. And then the kid thinks, this is the way that Chinese people speak English. And preferentially mimics their parent. Or their Chinese teacher. Or their friend. That’s the way I see it and why I’m so adamant.
I’d also be interested in seeing some support for the assertion that teachers and students universally think that “Communicate in Chinese” is not very good. Like I said, I haven’t used it much and it’s not my baby or anything but from what I remember it seemed pretty decent.
I’m glad I ran across your blog, you seem like a thoughtful guy, and I really, really want to like Chinesepod, I assure you. I hope you take my comments under advisement. Also, I noticed that on Chinesepod a couple days ago, there’s a diss of DaShan’s new program. Maybe’s its unfair, but it seems kind of like you guys are doing the classic foreigner in China thing “THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!” (Highlander, what?) or maybe the Head Negro In Charge (yes, I read James Baldwin). Might want to focus on your own product and making it the best that you can.
I’m going to cross post this to my blog. Let’s stay in touch. I hope I can revise my opinion of Chinesepod in the future.
Have you tried Chinese-Tools.com podcast to learn chinese?
(40 lessons with mp3 files to download)
[…] I guess it’s time to write what I think of Chinese Pod. Unless JT really ramps up the volume of his podcasting and gets friends to help out, Chinese Pod is the only game in town. There really isn’t any other large collection of podcasts for Chinese learners out there… yet. There’s a pretty fearsome argument about Chinese pod going on over at Sinosplice, and I want to toss in my $0.02. One commenter, named Roy, said: I have downloaded an intermediate lesson. First thing you are greeted in ENGLISH. The Chinese person also presents themselves in ENGLISH. “I am Jenny”. Are those at an intermediate level not expected to understand “I Am” in Mandarin? […]
Overall I really like Chinese Pod’s approach to learing Mandarin and it’s much more complete than ANY OTHER online resource PERIOD! That having been said of course I do have some criticisms.
However I think first off I should start with the good things about Chinese Pod.
For starters the podcasts are short enough to be convenient to listen to driving to work or waiting for an appointment etc., and hold your attention throughout the entire lesson and long enough and densely packed with information to help one rapidly improve their Mandarin. The teachers and actors acting our the dialogues have very pleasant voices and strive to pronounce things clearly and slowly. (of course the speed depends on the level your studying).
I don’t think at an intermediate level to start off the podcast with a few sentences in English is a big deal in fact I think it’s appropriate.
The good people at Chinese Pod strive to make every topic very interesting and modern which is a problem with many Chinese language learning systems I’ve tried (and trust me I’ve tried them ALL!) in that they deal with so called universal topics that don’t want to date themselves (things like sports, shopping, transportation etc.), which of course are important, but they lack the newer terms such as terms related to the intertnet, technology, pop culture and so on. Chinese Pod’s excel in helping the listener develop kou yu hua, spoken, very conversational Chinese. Where else can you learn how to say Frappuccino (xing bing le), and Atm machine (qu kuan ji)? By using Chinese pod, one can quickly develop their listening comprehension in normal conversational circumstances as well as develop a greater understanding of modern Chinese culture.
The main drawbacks of Chinese Pod are FIRST AND FOREMOST there is little or no emphasis on developing speaking skills. I believe there should be excercises in develping pronunciation, tones, tone combinations and speeding up your own spoken Chinese. Even by utilizing the tools on the website (other than the podcasts) there is still a far greater empasis on comrehension than anything else.
As much as their main teacher Jenny is very pleasant to listen to and tries her best to moderate each class to the best of her ability there is still a limitation of variation in teaching method, i.e. every lesson is the same format. I know that’s not as much her fault as it is her being boxed in by the format of the lessons but much of the lesson is her just talking off the cuff but she never breaks from doing the same few things in every lesson. 1- Introduction of the topic, 2- giving the meaning a few new words that will appear in the dialogue, 3- listening to the dialogue and 4- afterword discussing the dialogue and more new words, and finally 5- listening to the dialogue again. During the discussion there is no variation other than her telling us what the words mean and/or new phrases of grammatic points and giving examples to help us understand them better. It’s very limited in scope.
I believe there needs to be an emphasis on bringing the listener into the dialogue as much as possible by testing the listener on what they’ve heard as well as giving a variety of excersises within the framework of the lesson. There also needs to be the element of humour which can also greatly expedite the learning process. One would think it’s already common knowledge that laughter while learning is one of the greatest keys to learning by helping keep our attention and make the learning process less painful.
There is also no engagement of the listener. I think it’s okay to talk to the audience during the podcast, TEST US, MAKE SURE WE’RE STILL AWAKE AND LISTENING TO YOU! There is none of that in any of the lessons other than saying Hello, da jia hao…xie xie ni de shou ting bai bai!
A major problem with the lessons is that after the intermediate lessons there is no more Ken Carroll (the Irish/English radio personality) who even though his own Mandarin is a bit marred by mediocre pronunciation and a lacking of mastery of the 4 tones (don’t get me wrong he still speaks REALLY well especially for a wai guo ren and his Mandarin is better than 95 % of people who are have or who are studying the language) he is still the most lively, funny and likable of all the moderators. John Pasden is also a very good moderator and his Mandarin skills are excellent however the problem is he obviously has no background in entertainment or broadcasting which is a problem when your listening to a podcast (or broadcast). Even though I am obsessed with studying Mandarin and constantly striving to improve the level of my own Chinese however I still find my mind wondering halfway through their lessons. Which gets worse when there is no John Pasden and it’s just Jenny and Aggie or Jenny and Connie by that time each podcast rapidly turns into chatty girl talk (no not GIRLY TALK), and it’s EVEN WORSE when Jenny herself starts sounding bored, which happens often without the male moderators. One of the posts talked about Jenny’s tones being very poor, I don’t think her tones are poor or that she is thinking in English when she’s talking I think it’s just that her Pu Tong Hua is influenced by her being from Shanghai. I have a few friends from Shanghai and I noticed they all have the same speaking habit which is that as they go on talking their voices become softer and softer until becoming almost a whisper and their tones become less and less pronounced. I think this is something of a habit among Shanghairen.
I know because they are a newer website and they don’t have the money to pay professional radio personalities (billingual in English and Mandarin no less that’s a pretty daunting task) but I believe all the teachers who particpate in the Podcasts have good personalities and are likable enough to be capable of being more interesting. Trust me it’s one thing to be a good teacher in a classroom setting and quite another to be a good broadcaster which is essential in orchestrating a totally successful educational podcast.
One related issue is that when they are acting out the dialogues to say they sound a little like they are reading is to say the Yellow River is a bit moist. Often you can even hear them turning the pages as they read the script. I know they are not actors but it gets very disctracting when their voices have such an emotionless quality. Not to say that they should be emoting while they are reading the dialogue but there are little things like pauses in the correct place, emphasis on certain words and phrases in certain circumstances and the natural ups and downs, slows and fasts of one’s vocal patterns that occur in real life situations which just don’t come out in ANY of the dialogues. Of all the actors, Jenny and Aggie are the best and probably Connie is the worst (her voice borders on annoyingly overenunciated and robotic sounding during the scripted portion).
Some more minor points are: (here’s an important one) They often forget to drill the tones or even REVIEW the tones on new words. Each podcast is frustrating when they introduce new words and they don’t tell us what the tones are in the new words. It would also be helpful if they would give the spelling in Pinyin.
Another point is that they don’t review the new material periodically throughout the course of the lesson. They constantly go on to new material but forget to come back to some of the earlier stuff to reinforce it in our minds. I know that’s what the paid portion of the website is for but I think they could give a little bit of that during the podcasts or else have expanded podcasts available on the paid portion of the website.
Another issue is maybe just one related to my own personal psychoogical eccentricities that I like to call the “Bi Jiao” Factor. Jenny and Aggie but especially Jenny (I believe) WAY OVERUSE the word Bi Jiao. EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS BI JIAO! She uses it in the context of Very, Pretty, Comparitively, More etc, etc, etc. She also uses it as a bridge between thoughts or subjects. “Wo xiang ti chu lai yi ge bi jiiiaaaaooooooo uh, zhong yao de, bi jiiiiaaaaooooo jing chang yong de yi ge hua ti” OH MAN, I can’t tell you how annoying it is when in every podcast you hear the word bi jiao thirty, fourty times! Especially when my wife (who is Chinese) says it maybe a few times a week. It’s even more annoying that another e xi (bad habit) namely nei ge. (nei ge, nei ge, nei ge, nei ge AAAAHHHH BI ZUI! sorry just had to get that off my chest).
Getting away from my own personal nitpicky eccentricities back to more important issues I also believe there should be more use of topics realated to classical Chinese culture, such as, Tang Poetry, Chinese Opera, the culture of China’s Minorities, and different regions, ie: Northeastern, (Dong Bei) Xin Jiang, Beijing, Shanghai, Si Chuan, Yun Nan etc. Maybe it’s because most of the people involved in Chinese Pod were born in or after 1980 but while everything has it’s good points and bad points so does Chinese Pod’s emphasis on newer cultrural phenomena it also lacks any information about China’s classical culture which I think the case of many of us who are learning Chinese that aspect of Chinese culture is what attracted us to it in the first place.
Overall I like Chinese Pod and I think over the years these problems will be rectified and just to reiterate NO OTHER website for studying Chinese can hold a candle to Chinese Pod.
Regarding Roy and his posts.
I think he frieks out about EVERYTHING! He said Chinesepod’s shortcomings make it impossible to use it because his goals are much more lofty. He vehemently criticized the accent of the Native Chinese speakers in the podcasts and also, several times has criticized the grammer in the lessons.
Roy comes across as a beginner to me. Beginners have a tendency to always try and pick holes in what their teachers tell them and try to put themselves into a place (in their own mind) of being superior and not needing them and what they teach instead of really listening and considering what they are saying and learning from it since that teacher has many many more years experience and a wealth more knowledge than you. Obviously ANY teacher will never meet up to perfect standards. They make mistakes and have shortcomings. You can go to the worlds greatest universities, Harvard, Oxford and be able to pick holes in the teaching methods of every teacher there.
In truth OVERALL Jenny, Aggie and all the native Chinese speakers Mandarin is very good with only a slight southern influence. And as others pointed out you will come across many different Chinese people who’s Mandarin is influenced by their own regional accent and you should be exposed to that as soon as possible and as much as possible to increase your own listening comprehension. My only criticism of Chinese Pod in this regard is that there is a distinct lack of North Eastern accented speakers as the main source of spoken Chinese in the lessons. (being my wife is from Shenyang I think it would be great if there were more DONG BEI REN YOU QI LIAO NING REN participating in Chinese Pod, but perhaps that’s just me.)
Also regarding knowing what your goals are; every person who is learning Chinese all have the same goal, which is to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese and to be able to effectively communicate with the Chinese people. Whether or not you have an accent and the degree of the accent is completely irrelevant! Your goal is to speak and be understood (and hopefully to read and write as well).
In addition, even if you learn from Northerners, I’ve got news for you THEY ALL don’t speak perfect standard Mandarin! Standard Mandarin is in itself a second language to the Chinese people. It’s derived from the Beijing dialect but still has many differences from the Beijing dialect and many differences in pronunciation and vocabulary from the fang yan that the average Chinese person is used to. Standard Mandarin is a only a way to unite the language of a country with over a thousand different regional dialects! NO ONE’S native dialect is exactly the standard Mandarin that all us Lao Wai are studying!
Let’s say a Chinese person is studying English with a teacher from Long Island, they ONLY have been exposed to the accent and slang of this Long Islander and so naturally the Chinese student’s English also has the same distinct Long Island accent. I ask you what’s wrong with that? They’re still speaking English right? Any native English speaker can perfectly understand what they are saying. Even us American’s English is regionally accented and every area has it’s own particular slang. NO ONE speaks English as clearly and smoothly as let’s say a newscaster, even though maybe we should. We all have an tendency to slur, swear and use improper grammatic patterns that make our own spoken English very non-standard.
Also, take it from someone who sells advertising on a website, that if Roy is saying the paid service isn’t good enough but you are still using the free service (as your posts have indicated) then it just means your cheap and trying to find a reason not to pay to use it. IF IT REALLY ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR LOFTY STANDARDS then you would never think of using it and furthermore try to eject every last bit of information you have heard on ChinesePod from the recesses of your cranium! It’s tarnished, tainted, imperfect and you certainly wouldn’t want it to taint you and the goals you have for your Chinese…correct?
So my advice is to RELAX and stop being overly critical and just concentrate on the good points of Chinese Pod as the teaching resources on the site are excellent and there are enough resources of every level that can help anyone improve their own Mandarin.
I’m an advanced Chinese learner doing a graduate degree in international politics at Fudan. I found Chinesepod by accident on iTunes and have been a huge fan ever since. I even listen to the basic lessons because the dialogue explanations offer terrific linguistic and cultural insights that I never got before. Congrats on joining the Chinesepod crew and keep up the great work!
I agree with Smitty, keep up the great work Chinese Pod’ers!
I have to disagree. Listening to someone speak with poor pronunciation is a very tiring exercise! If you want to have any deep conversation without driving someone’s patience you will have to develop an accent that is at least pleasant to listen to.
The people who criticize CPOD because of the southern accent are twits. Oh my god you may learn to speak Mandarin like someone from Shanghai. How horrible will that be? You’ll certainly fail your HSK pfft
I for one take great offense when people nitpick such small details of the Chinesepod lessons because the producers of these lessons have to put out painstaking effort to bring them to us. The fact that we can actually download the lessons FOR FREE is a monumental thing! The moron who said “I wouldn’t even use the FREE SERVICE let alone the paid service” is just completely blind to all the good things about Chinese pod.
Re: “The people who criticize CPOD because of the southern accent are twits. Oh my god you may learn to speak Mandarin like someone from Shanghai. How horrible will that be?”: Yeah it’s a poor criticism because the accent is still very Chinese, very authentic. In fact I think it sounds more like a Taiwanese accent and Taiwanese people are native speakers of Mandarin, it’s just a different accent than the northern one. I know that for most people to speak Mandarin with a Beijing accent is the end all be all, but really it all boils down to one thing, and that’s COMMUNICATION! If we can effectively communicate with one another that should be our ulitimate goal. Now that’s not to say if an accent is so bad it doesn’t even sound like Chinese is obviously not communication. My earlier post saying “Whether or not you have an accent and the degree of the accent is completely irrelevant!”, was (at least in my mind) referring to a scenario in which people are able to effectively communicate. If someone says to a Chinese person “ni jew shimi minzee?” instead of, “ni jiao shenme mingzi?” obviously if the pronuciation is so bad it doesn’t soound like Chinese is not really communication, but that’s got nothing to do with accent.
John Paston has a small American accent to his Chinese but I can understand every word he’s saying, and at the end of the day if my Chinese were exactly like his would that be a bad thing? He was selected as a host of this program for good reason, because the level of his Chinese is amazing! American accent or no.
These people who are ragging on Jenny for her small pronunciation mishaps and the format of the lessons (such as having short introductions in English) just need to buy a clue. These are such small trivial things. Keep in mind Jenny is only 23 years old, she comes accross in the lessons as someone far older and more authoratative than this because of the obvious level of her intelligence. I would definately hire her as a private tutor.
As for the post praising Da Shan, I don’t agree with revering him and writing off Jenny and John. My wife (who is Chinese) has always said he speaks Mandarin with a heavy Canadian accent, as well as some small mistakes in his pronunciation. One of the lessons in his series Travel In Chinese comes to mind, part of the lesson was focusing on the “guan gu zhe…ye” structure, DaShan’s pronunciation sounded more like “guan gu DE…ye”. So even the great Mark Rowswell still has some small improvements he could make to his Chinese. Yet I learned quite a lot from his Travel in Chinese series. I have also learned a great deal from Chinesepod, and as I have said in previous posts, no other resource for learning Chinese on the web can hold a candle to Chinesepod, and I’ll go a step further by saying Chinese pod is superior to 90% of ALL resources for learining Chinese, web based or not!
Dashan’s Chinese is not that bad: