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Graded materials for level-relevant learning

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

Hi folks

I’m an early intermediate learner and my biggest problem is trying to find resources outside of ChinesePod to widen my reading, listening and comprehension. Whenever I try to look at websites, watch TV shows and dramas, or listen to radio, I’m only able to pick out one or two words in a sentence which doesn’t give enough context to understand what’s being said.

Any suggestions on where I can find some very easy (slower, more basic vocabulary) resources which might include things such as:

  • Internet sites, blogs etc
  • YouTube channels
  • TV shows
  • Internet radio stations etc

I went to a book store and bought a couple of children’s books but this turned out to be a disaster. Naturally it was all in characters so I spent hours with a dictionary which slowed down the learning, but the sorts of words in the children’s stories included things such as “well” (ie “she sat next to the well”), “thimble”, “sew” etc which are very low usage words.

Sounds like you need to download DuChinese app

It’s free for now and has graded content. I have other things I prefer when reading but this is probably better for what your looking for.


Hi, here is a pretty long list of resources. I’m currently using Lingq to read / listen to content outside of CP. It’s a bit like DuChinese.

Also nice and not on the list above:

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Xie xie ni! These are great resources. The slow Chinese is pretty fun! And the LingQ list, off the link, is huge! :whale:

Hey JanTea, are you in the 90 day Chinese challenge on LingQ right now?

Just a note: Children books are definitely -not- easier for non-native speakers. They often use a lot of rare vocab. I remember a time when I could read normal adult books like 三体 just fine, but when I tried to read a children’s book with my host family’s son it was a disaster. Every few words was a weird animal name that I didn’t know.

Hi, no, currently don’t do any challenge on LingQ - might check it out though.

I HIGHLY recommend you check out Glossika. I started it when I was around your level, and it skyrocketed my Chinese like nothing else.

If you don’t know characters yet, learn them. Yoyo Chinese has a good beginner’s course. After you know 300+ characters, start buying Chinese Breeze and Mandarin Companion graded readers, both of which are on Amazon.

After that, I recommend listening to a lot of Peppa Pig. It’s a fantastic show for learning the basic vocabulary that every child knows. You can find a translated version of the show on Youtube, and you can find a radio version on 蜻蜓FM, which is a radio app for your phone. They work well together because the radio app show basically retells the same episodes as the real show (so you are already familiar with the plot), but in a different format.

After you’ve listened to a bajillion Peppa Pigs, then you can finally pick up those children’s books again :wink:

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Thanks all, love the recommendation of Peppa Pig! Unfortunately when I went searching for it, most of the videos on YouTube are blocked for me (I’m based in Singapore). Any ideas on alternative methods whereby I can access these videos?

I’m not the best person to ask. Perhaps Youku? Alternatively, perhaps there’s a way to unblock YouTube?

Besides reading the lesson notes here on ChinesePod, Skritter was an enormous help for me. I strongly suggest you (actually… everyone!) check out Mandarin Companion books once you can read about 300-400 characters.

There’s a ChinesePod episode about Mandarin Companion graded readers here. If you’re from the US, you might know the “I Can Read!” graded books for kids. It’s similar but… for people of all ages learning Chinese.

As has been mentioned by jayporta, lesson notes.

If you print them, bind them, then you have great reading. As for listening, the Chinesepod dialogues.

It’s worth noting that you don’t only need to print or listen to what you’ve studied. Try printing off and reading lessons that you haven’t studied. Or create an mp3 playlist of Dialogues that you haven’t studied. Again, great level based listening.

Doing it this way you’ll be surprised how much more the lesson goes in when you do eventually come around to studying it.

Finding graded reading and listening outside of learning material will be almost impossible. The Chinese Made Easier books are good for this. There are five in total. I have them all. They cannot compare to Chinesepod, (Chinesepod is much better), but if you really need more reading and listening, use these alongside Cpod. Books 3-5 should be what you’re looking for.

While it’s not an online resource, I find the graded chinese reader books very useful. They’re short novels, written using 300, 500, 750 or 1100 unique words. All come with audio books included as well which is useful. A few publishers publish them, “Chinese Breeze” (汉语凤) series are about the best, although the stories themselves are a bit boring. Rainbow Bridge also make a set, although the glossary isn’t as good. Finally Mandarin Companion do simplified translations of popular English books into 300 or 500 mandarin word books (e.g. Journey to the centre of the earth).

Just bought a couple of these Mandarin Companion books. Boy are they good. Really nailed a gap a in the market with these.

I find Chinese children’s books to be of no use because it’s child’s language. Adult books are way over my head. The teenage section is also too difficult. But these books by Mandarin Companion, just perfect.

Nice one. Thank you!

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I would like buy this Mandarin companion but I can’t find them in China. So I go for the book from Sinolingua - Rainbow Bridge Graded Chinese Reader, but it’s sometime a bit boring because it’s only about chinese legend… I mean that’s really great like that you can learn chinese story, but the vocabulary is little bit too much around “war/fight/army/etc”…

I’ve bought the ebook but… Ebook. I could try to print them… have to check…

Those Sinolingua books look interesting. I may purchase a couple. The fact that they come with an mp3 is a bonus… and they’re cheap! Thanks!

I also live in China, but was able to buy the Mandarin Companion books from apple’s iBooks, (I fully converted to ebooks a few months back).

I’m currently reading ‘The Country of the Blind,’ from Mandarin Companion and absolutely loving it. Because it’s graded I’ve found it even more understandable than those little 汉字/拼音 books for first graders from 新华书店.

yes ok… Ebook I can find aswell but for this kind of book I would prefere in paper version. I can take some note etc… I’ve one for mandarin companion same than you.

Mandarin Companion books are good, but I have to say, I am a bigger fan of 汉语凤 (Chinese Breeze) graded reader books, but the stories are more boring. I think 汉语凤 stick a bit closer to HSK vocab, although sometimes the characters have unintentionally amusing side conversations to hit HSK vocab words. They’ll interrupt the story with sentences like "I asked him what are your favourite sports, he replied Basketball, football and badminton. "