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Suggestions for native language materials

I’d really like to be able to add some native materials (i.e. not textbooks or anything designed specifically for language learning) to my language learning, to make things more interesting. Does any one have any suggestions for things to to read or watch (preferably online and with simplified characters) for someone of an elementary level?

I‘ve had no luck in finding anything to watch that’s easy enough for me to get even the vague gist of. Although I’d love to be able to watch popular chinese tv shows and movies one day, I think i may need to start with something aimed at kids. Where did other people start? Or did you wait until you were more advanced before venturing into using native materials?

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I really like Mandarin-dubbed Peppa Pig, which you can easily find on Youtube. It’s packed with tons of useful basic vocabulary, and it’s not grating like a lot of kid’s shows can be.

Although not native material, I highly recommend graded readers, like the ones offered from Mandarin Companion and Chinese Breeze. Those really helped me get over the Elementary-Intermediate hump.


Thanks, I had a look at mandarin companion and I think graded readers are actually what i need at this stage in my learning.

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The Taiwanese program “Qiaohu - 巧虎” (as far as I can tell pretty much every episode is on YouTube) is fantastic & surprisingly well-written for a kids’s show. It follows 巧虎, a little tiger, & his family, friends & schoolmates (my favorite being his parrot best friend 桃樂比). Great for Mandarin learners because there are actually several different 巧虎 series, each directed toward a specific age group, so the show advances in sophistication along with you. The earlier toddler-age 6 stuff is a lot like Sesame Street & really helped me level up from Newbie to Elementary to Intermediate (I have 7 - & counting - nieces & nephews, & recently spent a vacation week amusing them with songs from the show). Now I’m watching 巧虎桃樂比等等 as they navigate their preteen years, & the writing rivals Hey Arnold!, an American show I grew up with & loved, for nuance & sophistication. Like you I learned Simplified first, but 巧虎 got me learning Traditional as well

Gwilym recently posted a Mandarin dub of the original Pokemon series on the forums I’ve been enjoying. Though that’s more Intermediate-Upper Intermediate, especially because of all the highly specific & technical language (& Misty’s voice is so high I still can’t understand a word she’s saying). Also, they call Pokemon “神奇寶貝” which can be translated as “Magical Babies” :smile::smile:

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As reading material for intermediare and upper intermediaire level I recomand the Graded Chinese Reader serie. There are several books with different level starting from 500 words to 3000 words. It is true litterature texts but abridged and simplified according to the study level.
Although it is not true native material it is definitively not boring textbook material but something in-between easier than native material and more interesting (rewarding) than textbooks.
Each text contains an abstract in english, the text in chinese with pinyin and vocabulary notes. The mp3 is recorded on a CD provided with the book.

For more info look at the following link

I actually bought the 500 word book a while back. The stories are great, but I think interlacing the pinyin is an Achilles heel, as I find it impossible to focus solely on the characters. But I have made good use of the audio.

Now the editor provides with the book a mask to hide the pinyin. :slight_smile:

One of the best discoveries I’ve ever made with learning Chinese is the tremendous value of jumping headlong into something incredibly long, and sticking with it. That first chapter/episode is completely impossible at first, but if you grab onto it and refuse to let it go, then the rest of the series will really open up.

I chose this audiobook completely at random, having not a clue what I was getting myself into:

I also found a text file and loaded it into Pleco.

If I’d had any idea what I was getting myself into, I never would have done it, so I’m very glad of my ignorance. I thought 阴阳先生 was the guy’s name! I listened to the first chapter at least a dozen times. For at least half of those times, I had no idea what I was hearing. I then waded through the text in Pleco numerous times, making flashcards for all kinds of words.

As I gradually began to understand that first chapter, I moved on. Chapters 2 through 5 I heard at least 5 times each, then chapters 6 through 10 I heard at least twice. After that, I was able to follow the story with only one or two listenings.

By the time I got to the really exciting stuff in the chapter 15-25 range, I was so hooked I didn’t want to quit to go to bed!

After hearing the story, I can go to the text version in Pleco and read it quite easily, picking up words all over the place. It’s a method I can’t recommend too highly.

I’m still working my way through reading it in Pleco, and I’m over half way through my second time listening.

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For reading, I recommend the Mandarin Companion series. I just bought a level 1 one, The Secret Garden, and although it’s still very much beyond my current level (I have been learning Chinese only for 3 months), I can see how useful it will be in the near future. It is based on a 300 words vocabulary, includes a list of grammar points tackled in each chapter, and exists both as print book and ePub.

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