As a continuing learner of Chinese I am always on the look out for online resources to help me develop my language skills. I’ve always been a big fan of Chinesepod but have now found that their Newbie podcasts are not challenging enough.
I was pleased therefore to find that Popup Chinese offers listening materials at all levels (Absolute beginner, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced) featuring interesting topics using colloquial language. For a modest subscription per year there are downloadable .pdfs providing a transcript of each lesson and downloadable .mp3 files. Their premium subscription offers additional features such as flashcards, quizzes, online HSK tests and more. This too, is priced very reasonably.
For those who do not take out a basic or premium subscription – the site still offers a lot. Some of the features I particularly like are the Sinica series of discussions, the Chinese news in the “tools” section, KTV Wednesday series of lessons and the dictionary tools.
The Sinica series of podcasts look at current affairs in China; recent podcasts have discussed the drought in the southern Yangtze and the problems of water supply, and the recent train crash on the high speed rail line.
The Chinese News tool presents a digest of up to the minute news in either simplified or tradtional characters or in Pinyin. There are approximately 15 headlines and the introduction to the news story on the page; clicking the headline will take you to the full story and source.
The beauty of this is that the learner can attempt to read the news but if they get stuck they can use the mouse to hover over the troublesome character(s)/word for a popup box to appear showing machine annotations in Pinyin, characters (traditional and simplified) and English. I could envisage using some of the headlines even with beginners asking them say, to pick out dates, names of countries, cities etc. It would also be good for independent learners who could use their mouse to scan for the Chinese characters for topical words such as Obama – 奥巴马.
Another great feature of the site is the KTV Wednesday series of lessons, each of which features a song. Embedded in each page is a video link to Youtube, Tudou or equivalent and a transcript of the song is available to subscribers.
Finally there is the dictionary which allows you not only to search by character, Pinyin or English, but also shows words used in context – a very useful feature.