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How many times to study a lesson


I’m new to Chinesepod, tested in at the newbie level as well, despite studying Chinese in college for 3 years. Woah is me.

I live in Shenzhen now and am driven to become conversational in Chinese.

I just finished listening to the series on How to Use Chinesepod which was very good for getting acclimated with the site. But, the one thing I didn’t hear on there was how many times is recommended to focus on 1 lesson.

Do you just listen to the lesson once and study the vocabulary on going?
Or, do you keep coming back to the lesson?
I guess basically I’m asking how do you know when you know the subject matter of the lesson.

Thanks for any suggestions.



Peace Luke!

歡迎來到中文博客!-in my best chinese pod host impersanation 哈哈-

I personally don’t worry if I have fully learned a lesson or not and rather look at it in a broader sense of time spent with the language. The more exposure to the language the more and more things become clear. That being said, I just listen to them as they come out, the ones I find more interesting the more I go back to them. But have no rule for this, and I only really listen while commuting to and from places.

There are two people on YouTube I highly recommend to listen to and that is Steve Kaufmann and LaoShu505000. Steve Kaufman has the best language learning pedagogy I have ever come across and has made many videos expanding on this including a few in mandarin. Steve also had a app called LingQ which I recommend using in conjunction with chinese pod. LaoShu on the other hand will show you how to go out into the world and put what you have learned into practice in his many “level up” videos. LaoShu is cool because he approaches learning languages like a video game and his videos are entertaining.

Now to me, more important then chinese pod or any other learning program, is to write characters… Most people try to “hack” their way around rote memorization but I have found writing characters to be enjoyable and extremely beneificial to my progress. But this is mostly because my main goal in learning chinese is to be able to read. Speaking is secondary as I don’t plan to ever live in a predominant mandarin speaking environment. Plus if you can read it you can say it.

Also I hate tests because I find they are more discouraging then anything. Most likely your level is higher than “newbie” (if you studied for 3 years in college) and you just aren’t a good test taker. Something to think about…



Hi there @852801387 ,

There are quite a few good user suggestions over on the How to Use ChinesePod comments page.

  • My advice would be to pick a lesson and bookmark it.

  • Listen to the dialogue a few times (comprehension will be pretty low
    at first).

  • Look at the vocab list to understand the words you don’t know.

  • Listen to dialogue again listening for the new words you just learnt.

  • Print off the lesson notes (or load onto a tablet to save the
    environment) and make notes while you listen to a podcast/video.

  • Practice reading dialogue out loud and pay particular attention to
    phrases or sentences that you feel would be relevant in your day to
    day life.

  • Un-bookmark lesson and mark studied. Go back and review lesson notes
    and dialogue a few times a week at larger and larger intervals until
    you’re saying the words, sentences without thinking.

Refine this process and feel free to change it depending on how successful it is. The main thing to understand is that at University, students spend a week/week+ studying one chapter of a textbook and really going into depth and learning the material. You should treat ChinesePod lessons in a similar method if you want to retain the info for longer.

Great to have you on Cpod.


I use Anki for reviews.

Its an open source learning tool that I cannot recommend enough, with an add on dedicated to Chinese learning. Typically, I’ll put vocab and example sentences into flashcards, and Anki will used spaced repetition alogrithms (optimised for retention) to generate review decks.

I’m also thinking of putting the dialogue audio into Anki so I’ll listen to it a few times.

Again, I cannot recommend Anki enough. It is an open source tool that is more powerful and effective than any other I have ever seen for vocab learning. I’d happily pay for it, but it is open source.


I’ve never used Anki but it’s not the first time I see people passionately suggesting it. I use Skritter but I find it a bit expensive (USD 100/yr - aprox. BRL 400 now that the dollar has skyrocketed in Brazil).

How would you compare Anki to Skritter? I’m considering a change once my subscription expires.


I’ve never used Skritter. From what I understand, it builds decks, and then you trace out the characters or the tones.

Anki is more flexible, and open to mods if you know a little HTML. I build flashcards and then write the characters on some scrap paper. I prefer pen and paper, though there is an option to write on the cards. There are a variety of excellent decks you can download, though I’ve moved onto building my own decks now (more specific to my needs). I’d be happy to share what I use here.


this is pretty much my process - the only difference being that rather than print-off the lesson notes, I manually write them myself directly copying from the PDF on screen. I find this is a good way to practice the characters - especially the repetition when i get to writing out the Vocab and Supplemental Vocab.


I find Anki and Skritter totally different. Anki is free and Skritter is not, I also personally use Skritter for writing practice and Anki for adding new vocabulary. Anki is also easier to use than Skritter in my opinion and if you make a free account, everything is synced to the cloud!

For me I listen to the lesson 2-3 times first and then I look at the lesson notes to read along with the dialogue to find the words that I am having trouble with. Personally there are times when I find an unfamiliar vocabulary word in the dialogue that isn’t mentioned in the vocab list for that lesson so it is important to read through the dialogue.

Once I have reviewed the lesson notes I go ahead and make flashcards in ANKI for any new vocabulary that I want to remember. I make an Anki deck for every month which contains most of the vocabulary from the elementary-upper intermediate lessons during that month. I then review the cards in that deck multiple times a day when I have a few min to spare on while I take public transit or am waiting for someone.

As I have already listened to each lesson multiple times, I don’t usually go back very often to review an older lesson unless I found it particularly interesting or had good dialogue. This is just what I found works for me and have been doing things this way since I started listening to CPod.

I also really like the review plan that @GwilymJames mentioned. I would suggest follow what he mentioned but add my part about making Anki decks so you can review your vocab on the go.



I have used Anki and Skritter in tandem for quite some time, and for me they offer very different, but overlapping services. For fully customisable basic flashcard reviews, Anki is great because you can go through a deck or hundreds in a few minutes, and be sure to learn 90% of it if you use it regularly.

When I first started I made two HSK1-2 Deck’s (One for reading (Chinese hanzi / pinyin + meaning) and one for understanding (pinyin+characters / meaning)).

When I went to school, I was required to write 500 characters on my first day. Without Skritter this would not have been possible. It teaches you stroke order, and emphasises writing (although you can switch off the writing part and just do normal reviews). Skritter also has all the main textbooks on there, so if you’re at school this is what I would recommend.

If you’re self studying without much emphasis on writing (Most Cpod users), check out Anki.

For any users wondering whether or not to spend $30 on the iOS app, don’t fear. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the benefits. Or buy a cheap android phone and use AnkiDroid.

Check out my Anki support article here if you want to dive in deep.

I also recommend Pleco flashcards because importing Cpod vocab is a lot easier, and adding words from the dictionary is just one tap away. Mike Love is working on updating the flashcard part of the app, so in the future, I would probably mainly use Pleco.

Oh, and just an addendum, Anki isn’t only for language learning. I used it to learn all the countries and capitals in the world (by population). I also used it for my neuroscience degree :smiley:

P.s I’ve not forgotten all of the countries so don’t test me.


As others have said, there are a million ways to determine what works for you. I will put in my 2c, i’ll try to be brief:

The best “how to use chinesepod” training I got was from Pimsleur. They have a very clear method, with instructions NOT to try to understand everything 100% at the time of lesson. You do each lesson once, and vocab review 5 times on a schedule. That’s it.

Now, you never get the feeling “I know this!” when you complete the daily routine, and it’s OK. But you do find out that 2-3 months later you have seemingly effortlessly can recall these items and use them in a normal conversation at will.

To sum up – try the Pimsleur, at least for the instructions on “how to use chinesepod”, they are much better than anything I’ve seen on this site (been using 6 years now, looking for instructions the whole time).


I think root’s advice is pretty good.

There is actually a lot of overlap in the lessons (at least Newbie and Elementary), so you’ll see important words, phrases and grammar points again later. Thus, you don’t need to review each lesson until you master everything. That could be tedious and grow boring.

But that’s okay as there are many lessons, and you’ll remember things better after seeing them in different contexts. So it’s probably best to study a lesson once (or twice). And then perhaps as a reference :wink:

I generally like to do everything, including trying to order the dialog properly while listening to it before listening to the main lesson (except for analyzing the dialog in detail). I get the feeling listening to the dialog a day later may be better, but I haven’t tried it out much yet >.<;


Bit of an old post but ill put my thought’s in anyway in case more people come across this as I have.

When I started with a chinesepod a while back, I started learning the newbie lessons and kept repeating the same lessons over and over again pretty much trying to remember every little thing because it felt like i wasn’t learning it if i couldn’t remember the exact phrase a week later.

I did the same thing with flashcards and just wouldn’t move on until I had absolutely mastered that character.

I kept that up for a few months, then i burnt out having learnt very little and then didn’t return to the language for a long time.

In trying to force myself to learn as in-depth and as fast as possible I not only failed to do so but likely set back my learning a few years.

Go at your own pace, if you feel like you just aren’t learning at the beginning that’s entirely normal, just sit back and enjoy the lessons its amazing what you will be able to recall later.