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Any good resources for getting more exposure to regional variations?

Hi YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

It was suggested that I post here by whomever manages the twitter:

My goal is a simple one… I want to make sure that I can understand regional variations in Mandarin. I’m not talking about straight up dialects, but rather, how to make sure when I go to the many parts of china where people speak mandarin, but they do so with a strong accent. I’ve sought out teachers from various parts of china and while their pronunciation does vary some, because they’re teachers, they all speak fairly standard mandarin.

I think this could be a really create ChinesePod series (kind of like the Shanghainese one), but I’m curious how people have gone about this? Right now, I’ve been listening to the 民主沙龙 podcast which generally has callers from all over with the biggest diversity in pronunciation I’ve found… but the fact that it’s about politics makes it tough as various topics can involve a lot of specific vocabulary (HOW DARE CHINA BUY ATTACK SUBS WE SHOULD TAKE THEM OUT WITH OUR DESTROYERS and the like), so I’m wondering if people have good sources or ideas? Because I’ve just heard so many stories of people struggling to get by in whatever 3rd tier city etc.

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I’ve used language exchange apps like HelloTalk and italki to find people from all over the Chinese diaspora. People often list their city , and you can just ask them not to speak ultra-standard Mandarin.

People from the bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing may not have a rough dialect a lot of the time, and speak standard Mandarin quite natively. Just a matter of trial and error. Especially since you’re getting those dedicated to language learning, they tend to be a bit more educated in their own native language as well.

Just keep meeting people on sites like Speaky, italki, and HelloTalk until you find what you’re looking for.

People do the same to me. Since I speak AAVE/“Ebonics” and Dirty Southern dialects of English, but I try to use my best standard English with language exchange partners. Those who have asked me not to get a taste of a serious twist on the English language.

As for “straight up dialects” you might try Taiwanese dramas, 古裝 shows , movies/TV set in Beijing or Shanghai/Hong Kong/Guangdong. Even in television, the actors in these places tend to speak the local twang. Most Taiwanese shows I’ve seen drop all the “h” sounds in zh, ch, sh, etc.


Wow, I’m super curious if most Chinese people studying English can understand AAVE…my guess is they would have no clue what is going on. But for the really motivated ones I bet they really appreciate being exposed to such a rich vernacular…I guess I kind of want the converse. I definitely want more exposure to the various regional vernaculars that exist. I guess I could definitely ask them to do this!

I’ve definitely used HelloTalk, I guess I just need to cast a bit of a wider net on the cities people are from. As you said, since they’re generally well educated (correlating with being motivated english learners), while there definitely has been variation, it hasn’t been as strong as some of the callers on 民主沙龙 for example. I guess I just gotta keep at it (and I hadn’t heard about Speaky – thanks).

Most of them have no clue what’s going on, except for the ultra-advanced learners that often use words even I don’t understand, and can express themselves fluently.

A word I forgot to mention on Speaky: it’s blocked in China. You’ll only find Taiwanese people here.

As for HelloTalk, I don’t restrict the city at all. And every could days I used to switch between 簡體 and 繁體 as my language, so it started to show me people from Chinese-speaking areas outside of China.

Do that until you find a mix of people you’re happy with. Cast a wide net and make your profile public – I have over 300 UNREAD messages on mine, really no shrotage of people to choose from. Hundreds on top of the people I actually do talk to.

I recommended this before but it’s interesting , free, designed for natives non scripted dialogue

These are mostly Chinese people in Australia but obviously they come from all parts of China. Load it into your podcast player (like ChinesePod) and you will have more things to listen to everyday.