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Chinesepod Review: The Incredible Features To Learn Chinese In 2024

As the most spoken language in the world by native speakers, learning Chinese Mandarin is a worthy and beneficial endeavour. Those who speak Chinese gain greater access to one of the world’s biggest economies and the ability to communicate with native speakers from China, Taiwan, Singapore, and other diasporic Chinese communities all over the world.

In addition, students of Mandarin are exposed to one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. Learning Chinese is an increasingly important skill, and yet, it remains a rarity among English speakers.

While it has developed a reputation for being tough for English speakers to grasp, many students are tackling the challenge and succeeding with the help of language learning courses like Chinesepod. There is a myriad of options for potential students to choose from. To help you make a more informed choice, this Chinesepod review offers an in-depth look into this highly-rated course.

Chinesepod Review  

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Image from ChinesePod

Chinesepod is one of the most popular methods to learn Chinese for a good reason. It is highly recommended because of its incredible and top-tier lesson library, entertaining approach, and well-structured design. Students who want to learn Chinese should definitely consider choosing Chinesepod.

Learning Chinese with Chinesepod: An Overview

In summary, this Chinesepod review suggests that students try this language learning service. This course is considered to be one of the most trusted and comprehensive guides into the Chinese language for over 15 years. It deserves the praise it frequently receives.

Students can expect an innovative and immersive Chinese learning experience with Chinesepod.


Image from ChinesePod

This is one of the best courses to improve Chinese listening skills. With their extensive audio lesson library, students can conveniently listen to lessons anytime and anywhere.

With an accumulated lesson library for over 15 years, there are 4000 lessons consisting of every possible topic in the Chinese language.

Chinesepod offers are an abundance of lessons for both lower levels and advanced learners. The incorporation of English in the lessons gradually lessens as students advance in their studies and move up the level system.


Most of the features are available only to paying subscribers. While they do offer free lessons on their podcast and YouTube channel, the bulk of their lesson library as well as their app are reserved for those with a premium subscription.

With so much focus on listening practice and improving the listening comprehension of learners, Chinesepod places less of an emphasis on writing and reading. The resources provided are excellent but are not exhaustive for mastering the language.



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Chinesepod has two subscription levels depending on the student’s learning objectives and budget. There is a basic plan for $14/month and a premium plan for $29/month.

First Impressions

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At first glance, Chinesepod does an excellent job of establishing itself as an industry veteran. Their 15 years of experience in teaching Mandarin is clearly visible on their website.

On top of that, there is a video that explains what the Chinesepod learning experience entails for students. This is extremely useful for those still deciding whether to use their service or not. Their landing page is polished and well-designed with testimonials from previous and current students and glimpses into the Chinesepod lessons.

Course Structure Details

Chinesepod‘s huge lesson library is categorized into an academic level system. The system is composed of six levels with a bonus of media material lessons for advanced students. The level system begins with newbie, elementary, and pre-intermediate for those just starting their journey into learning Mandarin. It graduates into the intermediate and upper-intermediate before proceeding into the more advanced lessons. Within each course, there are recommended lessons, but the student is not obligated to complete them.

The number of Chinesepod lessons for lower levels and more advanced levels is quite balanced. This makes the resources that Chinesepod offers valuable regardless of how far along a student is in their Chinese studies.

Newbie & Elementary

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The newbie lessons are perfect for students who are completely new to the language. It’s an awesome introductory course consisting of 525 lessons. The lessons are taught mostly in English to ease beginners into the language. It focuses mainly on building a basic Chinese vocabulary from scratch with the introduction of basic words and phrases. There are also pronunciation exercises available for beginners. The videos range from learning how to say hello to an explanation of the most common and simple Chinese characters.

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The Chinesepod elementary lessons review and build on your basic knowledge of Chinese with a collection of 779 lessons. Each elementary lesson is taught increasingly in Chinese but still contains much English. This course aims to improve the student’s basic vocabulary through more new words and phrases and introduce grammar. With enough knowledge of basic Chinese words, the videos and audio lessons at this level enable those learning Chinese to finally begin conversing in the language. Although the conversations taught are at the most basic level, they are still extremely useful for daily use.

Pre-Intermediate & Intermediate

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The pre-intermediate level Chinesepod lessons move on from teaching basic words straight into sentences. This level consists of 157 lessons that are especially useful for learning Chinese expressions. The lessons are still taught mostly in English but have more Chinese than the previous levels. They prioritize the most relevant and common sentences required for basic communication with a Chinese speaker. The hosts cover topics such as how to make small talk, dining etiquette, and how to politely say no to your boss in Mandarin. This course equips students with enough knowledge to confidently converse in Chinese.

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The Chinesepod intermediate level lessons build on the previous level by exploring more complex grammar structures and less common words in the language. The 778 lessons are evenly taught in English and Chinese. The lesson hosts enrich the student’s knowledge through the discussion of topics such as negotiation a business contract, common Chinese proverbs, and various festivals in the videos.


Upper-Intermediate & Advanced

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At the upper-intermediate level, students can expect to encounter more specialized topics and more complex words with Chinesepod. The 625 lessons at the upper-intermediate level are taught mostly in Chinese, albeit some English is present in the lessons. The video hosts focus on teaching more nuanced grammar, challenging vocabulary words, and complex topics. There are a lot of videos on every topic imaginable. Similarly, the audio lessons cover very specific topics that you might come across in daily life. The upper-intermediate videos cover topics ranging from what to expect while travelling in China to gender equality to US politics. The upper-intermediate audio podcasts discuss a variety of topics such as WeChat, the amazing nightlife in China, and gamer culture.

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At the advanced level, Chinesepod expects students to be completely fluent. The videos and audio clips are taught entirely in Chinese. There are 474 lessons at this level. The vocabulary employed in the lessons is formal and refined. The audio clips cover topics that range from global warming to dating. Similarly, the videos cover a wide range of topics such as social anxiety, diplomacy, and the NBA.


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The media level consists of 185 lessons for those who finished all the levels. It provides students with real media news from actual sources in its original, Chinese form. The Chinesepod media lessons discuss real-life events and current affairs.

Subscription Plans

Chinesepod offers two different subscription models for hopeful learners.


The basic plan costs $14 per month.

With the basic plan, learners gain access to over 4000 audio and video lessons. In addition, they can download and save PDF lesson notes to review later. Students can get support in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. The basic plan also allows students to participate in discussions within the Chinesepod community of teachers and learners.


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The premium plan costs $29/month.

With the premium plan, students have access to everything the basic plan offers. Additionally, they unlock more listening practice exercises, access to the Chinesepod app, vocabulary review exercises, grammar blocks, and full lesson dialogues.

The premium plan is also offered as a free trial for learners who are hesitant to commit to the price but wish to give it a try.


Audio Lessons

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Chinesepod provides an extensive collection of audio lessons to its students. These lessons are available to both basic and premium subscribers. They can even download the clips for offline listening.

The lessons begin with an introduction followed by Chinese dialogue. The hosts provide an in-depth explanation of the dialogue. At the lower levels, the explanations are entirely in English, but gradually decrease as the student progresses.

The Chinesepod audio lessons excel at improving the student’s listening comprehension. A lot of the topics are incredibly interesting and useful. The clips provided range vastly in their application and complexity.

Chinesepod supersedes its competitors as an online listening language learning service for students. Students can listen to their lesson anytime and anywhere they would like. They could listen to lessons in the background while they do household chores or during their commute to work. This makes learning Chinese incredibly easy and a seamless part of your daily routine.



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For students who can’t afford a basic or premium subscription, Chinesepod offers a free podcast. The podcasts are available at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. The podcasts are available at no cost. These podcasts are great resources for anyone who wants to explore Chinesepod and its material without paying for a subscription. It’s some of the most highly rated Chinese podcasts available online.

Video Lessons

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While a lot of the older lessons on Chinesepod are in audio form, many are now video lessons. The videos are informative and entertaining thanks to the charismatic hosts. Each video series is taught by different hosts exposing learners to different teaching styles. They seemingly discuss every possible topic that a student may encounter in a conversation with a Chinese speaker. There are various video series such as a Chengyu series, a Learn Mandarin From Movies series, and a Character Mind Map series.

These videos make learning fun and immersive. The video library attempts to rival the Chinesepod listening collection. There is a Chinese learning video for everything.

Youtube Channel

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For students who don’t have access to the basic and premium subscription, many lessons are available on the Chinesepod YouTube channel. The video course offers 350 videos. The videos range in difficulty and vary vastly in the topic. These videos are one of the best free visual resources available online to anyone hoping to learn Chinese.


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Chinesepod allows students the opportunity to listen to line-by-line dialogue. They can also read each line in the dialogue along with the audio or video lessons. Each dialogue is thoroughly explained to ensure the student comprehends its meaning.

The dialogue consists of varying degrees of English, depending on the student’s level. This is great for students further along in their learning journey who prefer lessons that consist of dialogue entirely in Chinese.

Each Chinesepod lesson is focused on a natural dialogue that features key vocabulary words. Students can listen to each sentence in the natural dialogue to develop their listening skills.

As one of the best listening resources available, students can expect Chinesepod to heavily rely on dialogue to teach the language. Listening to the hosts speaking the dialogue in Chinese is an effective way to improve comprehension through listening.


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Chinesepod gradually introduces its students to new words. They centre each lesson around important words and explain them in detail. At the beginner level, the words are defined and discussed in mostly English to ensure students grasp their meaning. The system of introducing only a few words per lesson helps prevent those new to the language from becoming overwhelmed.

There are also vocabulary lists available for each lesson where students can read and listen to each individual word. By the end of their journey with Chinesepod, students can expect to develop a well-versed Chinese vocabulary.



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Chinesepod has several lessons specifically in grammar. As a beginner, students are slowly introduced to grammar rules and structure. However, as they progress further along, the lesson becomes more challenging.

Some of the key lessons include a complete grammar guide, abbreviations and contractions, and sentence structure.

In addition to this, each lesson has a specified grammar section with detailed explanations that students can download to study offline.


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To aid students in their pronunciation, Chinesepod provides many pronunciation resources for free. They do an incredible job of teaching the basic tones and sounds. Since Chinesepod teaches students through listening material, students are gradually and subconsciously perfecting their pronunciation with each listening practice.

Most notably of the available resources is a pinyin chart with audio clips for each syllable. The pinyin chart teaches students basic pronunciation skills. It is especially useful for English-speaking Mandarin students.

Chinesepod also has a series called Say It Right that aims to help students perfect their pronunciation and speak like a native Chinese speaker. The Say It Right pronunciation series is only available to premium users, but it is incredibly useful at differentiating tones and mastering Pinyin.

Reading & Writing

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Although Chinesepod leans heavily towards improving the listening skills and comprehension of students, they do a good job of incorporating reading and writing Chinese into their course. Starting at the newbie level, students are exposed to the most common and simple Chinese characters.

There is a Chengyu series that explores each character in depth called through a character mind map.

While students may not become masters of reading and writing the Chinese language after using this service, at the very least, they will be able to confidently read and write the most commonly used words.


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With such an immense library of lessons that span an endless amount of topics, students who used Chinesepod in their language learning journey absorbed a lot of knowledge about Chinese culture.

Students listen to lessons discussing Chinese movies, sayings, and etiquette. They listen to the current events, leading issues, and latest trends in China. They listen to hosts talk about China’s festivals, nightlife, and gaming culture.

Due to the sheer number of lessons and the wide assortment of topics they cover, Chinesepod users are totally exposed to the culture.


Extra Features


In addition to their built-in dictionary for each lesson, Chinesepod provides free access to their massive dictionary. All the words found in the courses are available there. Each word is given in context using sentence examples along with their definition.


Students who want to know which lesson level is most suitable to their knowledge can take the placement test on Chinesepod. This test reveals which level is the best fit for each student.

On top of that, there is a level test that is designed to review the student’s knowledge and test their skill at a particular level. This is a useful tool for measuring your progress as a student. It can also help you determine whether or not you’re ready to move on to a more challenging level.


Those with a premium subscription gain access to several useful exercises to review and test their knowledge. The exercises allow for a more game-like learning experience. They include dictation, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-gap, matching of characters to their definition, and sequencing exercises.


Those with a premium plan have access to the Chinesepod app. This allows students to easily learn Chinese on the go. It is available for download in the Android iOS apps store.

Students with access to the app can enjoy all of the material and some premium features conveniently on their mobile devices.


What Chinesepod Excels At

Chinesepod is a highly trusted and praised online Chinese learning resource for a good reason. They exceed expectations as a language learning service in many regards.

As a listening resource, they compare to none. Students can listen to their lessons no matter where they are and what they’re doing with premium access to the app. One can effortlessly learn Chinese in the background while multitasking. The lessons are on average around 15 minutes long. As a result, Chinesepod can seamlessly fit into even the busiest daily routines. Moreover, learning Chinese by listening and relating it to context feels very natural and similar to learning your first language as a child. It’s an innovative and organic method of acquiring Chinese.

Each lesson is short and self-contained. Chinesepod does an excellent job at ensuring the length of their lessons does not overwhelm or bore students. Students can also choose different topics of interest within each level in no particular order and not worry about getting lost. Since each lesson is self-contained, the unfamiliar words in the dialogue are always explained in detail.

Chinesepod boasts an extensive library of lessons. With over 4000 lessons in both audio and video format, students unlock a massive amount of resources. There are lessons exploring every relevant and possible topic so users will never get bored of learning about the same thing.

In comparison to their competitors, Chinesepod excels at providing content for higher-level students as much as beginner levels. Their pre-intermediate to advanced courses make up more than half of the lessons. While most language learning services cater less to students the further they progress in their studies, Chinesepod continues to provide learning resources for them. Furthermore, there is an appropriate amount of English used in each level with higher levels assuming complete fluency and thus, containing no English at all.

Those who are hesitant to commit to the $29/month price of the premium subscription can try it with a two-week trial. During this free trial, students gain access to all of the premium features including the app for free.

What Chinesepod Lacks

Chinesepod, like all language learning services, is not perfect. It does have some, however few, shortcomings.

For starters, the app is only available for download to those with a premium plan. This is unfortunate for people who simply can’t afford the price of premium. At the very least, the app should be available to those paying for the basic plan. The app also doesn’t include access to all the premium features. If you’re going to create an app for premium users, it should contain all the extra features they’re paying for.

Since Chinesepod heavily concentrates on comprehension through listening, students can expect to master understanding and speaking Mandarin, but they might not necessarily be as adept at writing it. With enough practice and perhaps, the help of resources, this is not at all a difficult fix.

For students who prefer a 1-on-1 private session with a native speaker, Chinesepod lacks in this regard. They previously offered a virtual classroom for a greater price than the premium plan, but it has since been cancelled.


Reasons To Choose Chinesepod

Students who prefer an organic way of absorbing a new language through listening should definitely choose Chinesepod. The audio lesson library is incredibly vast. The convenience of being able to listen and learn wherever you are and whatever you’re doing is very alluring. It feels like such a natural and familiar way to learn a dialect.

Similarly, people who like to learn at their own pace will benefit a lot from Chinesepod. Since the lessons are self-contained, you can select them based on your interest without worrying about not understanding the context or the meaning. The relaxed yet structured approach to learning will appeal to many students.

People who are busy, but want to tackle the challenge of learning Chinese should consider Chinesepod. Each lesson is only about 15 minutes long, short enough to fit into a busy schedule. Moreover, the app makes it even more convenient for busy lifestyles.

Students who are fascinated with China’s culture should choose Chinesepod. Every possible aspect of China’s culture is discussed by various hosts. Their library contains a staggering amount of information on culture.

The Chinesepod library is massive and evenly balanced. There are over 4000 lessons that cater to all levels. Their library consistently provides material throughout your journey as a student.

Alternatives To Chinesepod

There are countless alternatives to Chinesepod, but here are a few of the best ones.


Image from ChineseClass101

Chineseclass101 is a good alternative to Chinesepod. It is another top-rated service with over 1300 lessons. The lessons are audio-intensive and don’t offer as many videos. However, there are many useful features such as a flashcard system, a word bank, 1-on-1 lessons, and PDF lesson notes that students can save for offline review. Chineseclass101 offers one of the best free podcasts available for Chinese students.

For students who want to use extra features, there is a basic plan that costs $8/month, a premium plan at $25/month, and a premium plus plan at $47/month.


Rosetta Stone

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Rosetta Stone is another industry veteran and trusted service. They focus on teaching students the basic words and phrases, pronunciation and tones, as well as writing basic characters. The lessons are offered in bite sizes to make daily practice easier for users. Students also gain access to an online community where they can practice their knowledge and skills with other students.

There is a free app and free trial available for Rosetta Stone. After the trial, users must pay $36 every 3 months, $96 every 12 months, or $179 for a lifetime membership.

Peking University’s Chinese For Beginners

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This beginner-friendly course is taught by an associate professor at Peking University. It introduces students to phonetics and daily expressions to ease them into making conversation. The course is designed to instill a basic knowledge of Mandarin. It is perfect for students who want an introduction to Chinese, and just enough knowledge for simple communication.

The course is available entirely for free on Coursera.

Mandarin Bean

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Mandarin Bean is a great resource for podcasts at various levels. They are structured according to HSK level. The podcasts have no host but instead, feature a story or dialogue. Each podcast is accompanied by a transcript in traditional, simplified, or pinyin characters in addition to an English translation. It is an excellent resource for people who enjoy listening to stories.

This podcast is available completely for free.

You Can Learn Chinese

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You Can Learn Chinese is another great podcast alternative available on Spotify. The lessons are beginner-friendly and provide many useful tips to students. It is hosted by Jared and John, who are non-native speakers and hope to guide others into learning the language. Beginners should consider checking out this podcast before moving on to more challenging material.

The podcast is available to students for free.


Image from HelloChinese

HelloChinese is an awesome beginner-level app. Students begin with the basics and gradually increase their knowledge in reading, understanding, and speaking Chinese. Each lesson is designed to slowly progress and expose students to new concepts. Beginners will benefit a lot from this app before they have to move on to more challenging material.

The app is free to download, but there is a premium plan available that unlocks more features at $9/month.


Image from Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular language apps available to students. It makes learning fun and game-like with its animation and design. The exercises include listening practice, pronunciation practice, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching words to their meaning. Students can even compete with others to motivate them.

The app is available to download for free, but there is a premium plan with more features for $10/month.


With resources like Chinesepod, the previously difficult challenge of learning Chinese Mandarin seems a lot less daunting. This review aims to provide an honest, insightful, and detailed look into what makes Chinesepod such an incredible service. While the most suitable choice will vary for each student depending on their learning style and goals, this review suggests you at least consider trying the free premium trial in order to make a fully informed decision. There are very few services with as few flaws as Chinesepod. It is highly regarded as an industry veteran and highly rated for an excellent reason. It deserves all the praise it receives.

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