I’ve given up on ChinesePod, probably forever. I used it quite a lot almost a decade ago when I was teaching Chinese, both for improving my own language and for my students. It was excellent for content-based lessons and follow up that covered a lot of material that you would have in a typical, traditional style Chinese class. I used it a lot for my students as extensions, since we didn’t have a lot of actual contact hours in our class and I was not going to waste our precious class time explaining grammar or vocabulary to them.
I accidentally hit something on my computer the other day and an old downloaded ChinesePod lesson started playing on iTunes and I thought “oh wow, maybe I should go back to paying a large sum of money for ChinesePod. It was actually kinda good”. I then logged on to see what new goodies had been made over the years. Almost…nothing? They changed the layout of the website, so there’s no way for me to even filter out the level I want to look at (no matter what I do, it still shows at the levels at once), but it looks like the most recent advanced lesson was uploaded over a year ago. And it’s from a Youtube video, which means you can get the content for free, instead of paying $30/mo to access it.
Some digging around lead me to discover that ChinesePod is heavily promoting newbie and elementary lessons on YouTube. Well that’s nice for the general population of beginners who just want to passively learn on YouTube, but the joy of ChinesePod was that they were audio lessons that you can take with you anywhere you go, with structured PDFs and accompanying audio downloads that put all other Chinese textbooks to shame. There’s no need to oversaturate the YouTube “come learn Chinese from me” stuff that’s already everywhere on YouTube. But for some reason, that’s the direction Chinese Pod has decided to go.
Somewhere else online I saw a ChinesePod moderator respond to someone by saying that COVID had seriously affected their ability to produce content. That’s a load of crap. First of all, the lack of new advanced lessons goes back to 2018. Even before that, there was maybe one new advanced lesson every 2 months. COVID-19 lockdowns didn’t start until February of 2020. Second, there’s a ChinesePod office in Taipei, which had very, very little impact from COVID, barring a four month period in 2021. I know because I live in Taipei. I’ve walked past the ChinesePod office many times and I was here for all of the pandemic. COVID is a poor excuse for not producing content that you charge an insane amount of money for. It’s a convenient excuse, certainly, but it’s a really poor one.
ChienesePod was groundbreaking when they first started. They got that language can be acquired through short, relevant dialogue, an accompanying transcript, and simple explanations. It was like the first 20 minutes of a traditional-style Chinese class, only the content was relevant to one’s life, instead of teaching 馬馬虎虎 and filial piety and environmental protection but never teaching shapes and colors like every Chinese textbook out there. The quality of the lessons varied, and there was a LOT of anti-America, Chinese Superiority nonsense embedded in more lessons than anyone should feel comfortable with, but overall, it was better than any textbook I’ve flipped through.
I’ve also noticed that every time someone on here asks about why there isn’t any new content, there’s a bunch of “well what do you want?”. People then clearly articulate what they are looking for, but there’s still no new advanced content. I don’t really know why people should need to tell Chinese Pod what they’re looking for. We PAY for the product. It is the responsibility of the company to do their research and learn what the consumer wants. The number of “it sounds like we’re not meeting your needs. Can you elaborate on what you are looking for?” responses to “why isn’t there any new content” is astounding.
I can only say that it’s obvious no one is steering the ship anymore. I just wish there was a way to buy the entire ChinesePod library as a mass download before they disappear forever, that way I can have something to use when I go back to teaching Chinese again next year.