red reticent?
April 27, 2006 9:14 AM   Subscribe


I'm still looking for a good Cantonese learning podcast. Any recommendations?
posted by rxrfrx at 9:39 AM on April 27, 2006

How's about a good Japanese learning podcast? It'd be great to burn and listen to in the car.

Is there some kind of site that lists language-learning podcasts?
posted by splice at 9:46 AM on April 27, 2006

Destinos online
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:55 AM on April 27, 2006

I've been listening to this for a while. I like it, but it seems more fun than educational. They don't repeat the phrases enough for me to memorize them, I feel. Ideally, I should listen to each lesson like three times but I'm not that organized.
posted by kensanway at 10:09 AM on April 27, 2006

In the article klue posted, there's also a nod to our very own languagehat.
posted by reformedjerk at 10:45 AM on April 27, 2006

kensanway: it's all about how you approach it... if someone wanted it to be educational, they could skip back and re-listen to the words, or listen to it several times (i.e. twice on the way to to work, twice on the way back..)

It's apparent that you are approaching it as a fun cool thing, but not focusing on learning and memorizing the language. (Not that I fault you for this, just the fact that you would rather listen to this rather than music shows that your curiosity and interest in the language will allow you to learn faster than others with the same language ability... memorizing != knowing the language)
posted by hatsix at 10:52 AM on April 27, 2006

How's about a good Japanese learning podcast? It'd be great to burn and listen to in the car.

This one is pretty good: JapanesePod 101. They have both beginning and intermediate lessons. They're pretty fun, and good listening practice even if you already know the words they're trying to teach.
posted by vorfeed at 10:55 AM on April 27, 2006

This looks great. Thanks.
posted by pointilist at 11:00 AM on April 27, 2006

Well, I took it for a year and learned like 1000-1500 characters, though I'm a bit rusty. Clearly if you listened to it several times, you'd improved. My comment is just that it could have some more helpful routines: for example, more repetition or dialogues that paused for you to answer, rather than just listen to the other person answer. The program also has to do some tricks when it comes to the translation--if they translate it character-by-character, it drags the program on, but if they don't, you just get a phrase without really know what it means. None of this is bashing the program--which is definitely the best free Chinese podcast I've found--or ignoring the fact that actually learning the language requires a lot of extra time, as well as practice reading and writing.
posted by kensanway at 11:24 AM on April 27, 2006

I like Chinese Pod, and I have downloaded many podcasts in order to maintain my Mandarin while I'm not in China.

That said, sometimes I can barely stand to listen to it because of Ken (the Irish co-host of the native speaker Jenny Zhu). Ken seems like a nice guy, I like what he's doing with ChinesePod, and he has a good radio voice.
That said, for someone who has supposedly lived in China for 17 years, his tones are really inaccurate and not up to the standard that Mandarin learners need from their teachers, as many users of ChinesePod have pointed out. Even his pronounciation is not that great, especially his retroflex sounds (zh, sh, etc). For example, in one of the podcasts, he mistook que4ding4 "to make sure" for jue2ding4 "to decide", and had to be corrected by Jenny, and they didn't even edit out the mistake. Things like this make Ken come of as both unprepared for the lesson (they are mostly scripted for God's sake, he shouldn't have to be translating on the spot) and overconfident in his own Mandarin ability (if he feels no need to review before hand what the vocab words are, but still screws them up).
Finally, Ken's conversational demeanor is one that will be familiar to anyone who has spent much time in East Asia -- that is the unremarkable Westerner who goes to Asia to teach English and lets all the foreigner-worship over there go to his head (leading many of them to stay and teach ESL rather than return to their own country to get a real job). Ken's contrived bonhomie, dutiful recitation of the Mandarin phrases that are sure-fire hits with most Chinese folks (northern people eat noodles, southern people eat rice! Give me a cookie...), and self-assured patronizing tone are the sure hallmarks of someone who has embraced the "dancing monkey foreigner" persona that characterized most ESL teaching in Asia, and who wallows in the attention and praise showered on any laowai who can muster a "ni hao" out of his pick-up line level Mandarin. Don't be that guy, Ken...

Anyway, I think Ken has taken this into consideration and wisely scaled back his Mandarin speaking roles, making these podcasts much more listenable. So, in general, I think this is a good resource for people trying to learn Mandarin.
posted by banishedimmortal at 11:30 AM on April 27, 2006

vorfeed, great thanks. That site looks lovely, plenty of lessons and notes. I probably wouldn't have checked it out because the article klue linked to said it wasn't very good. Seems fine to me, and the lesson I'm listening to doesn't sound horribly stilted or anything.

Guess I don't have an excuse to put off learning japanese...
posted by splice at 12:20 PM on April 27, 2006

Seems fine to me, and the lesson I'm listening to doesn't sound horribly stilted or anything.

Yeah, I don't know where the guy who wrote the article got that idea from. Worse yet, the site he does recommend (JapanCast) is really, really basic. Kana lessons? Lesson 17 teaches "nice to meet you"? Hmph. Who cares how fun it is if they're just teaching the first three weeks of a community-college Japanese class?
posted by vorfeed at 1:18 PM on April 27, 2006

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