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Explore Chinese Through Audiobooks: Top Picks for Every Kind of Learner

Books are one of the tried-and-true methods for improving written comprehension in foreign languages, but have you considered that you can also use them to boost your listening skills?

Audiobooks, in fact, are a fantastic resource for learning Chinese. They help in mastering pronunciation and understanding spoken language.

In this guide, we will present a comprehensive overview of the best Chinese audiobooks, tailored for listeners at various proficiency levels. This guide will break them down by Chinese language level, recommend audiobook platforms, and suggest specific resources for every individual. Whether you’re just starting out or ready to tackle advanced material, the following will help you explore Chinese through an array of audiobooks, ensuring your learning journey is both enriching and enjoyable.

Audiobook Platforms for Chinese Books

The days of running to the library to check out a book of CDs are thankfully long behind us. All the platforms you need to get started are just a few clicks away; it’s only a matter of finding the one that is easiest for you to use and offers the content you’re looking for. You might even have some of these apps downloaded on your phone already!

Audible

Audible is a world-known platform with a vast collection of audiobooks, including many in Chinese. Audible’s diverse library is an invaluable resource, offering a range of audiobooks that not only enhance language skills but also offer insights into Chinese culture and literature.

Audible is a paid service, offering basic subscriptions for less than $10 USD per month. Plus, you can often find deals to get a free trial for the first couple of months. If you have Amazon Prime already, then you can even get extra membership benefits.

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Ximalaya

Ximalaya is a popular Chinese platform offering a wide range of audiobooks, podcasts, and radio shows in Mandarin. For Mandarin learners who seek a rich variety of Chinese audiobooks, it stands out as a treasure trove. It’s an ideal resource for immersing oneself in the nuances of the language as well as the depth of Chinese culture. Generally, Ximalaya’s user-friendly interface and vast selection make it an excellent platform for Mandarin learners at all levels and all ages.

Ximalaya has a vast collection of free resources, as well as VIP offerings that can be purchased for a small fee. Many VIP books allow you to listen to a few chapters for free, giving you the chance to try before you buy.

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Spotify

Spotify is widely known for its vast music library, but it also has a growing selection of audiobooks and language learning materials, including Chinese. Spotify’s integration of audiobooks into its existing music and podcast library makes it a convenient option for those looking to combine entertainment with language learning. Additionally, Spotify’s playlists, such as “Learn Chinese,” incorporate audiobooks and language lessons, providing a diverse learning experience.

All content on Spotify is available for free. They offer a premium version with a few key perks, including no advertisements and the ability to download content for later.

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Tingbook

Tingbook is a dedicated platform that offers a rich selection of Chinese audiobooks, catering specifically to Chinese literature enthusiasts. Especially for advanced Mandarin learners, you might explore the audiobook versions of renowned works of Chinese fantasy literature, romance novels, or in-depth discussions on various topics, providing a deeper linguistic and cultural immersion.

Tingbook offers many of its books and podcasts for free, with others marked as part of a monthly subscription.

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Pingshu8

This is a specialized platform that offers a unique collection of Chinese audiobooks, with a particular emphasis on traditional Chinese storytelling, known as 评书 (píngshū). This platform is a treasure for those interested in diving deep into the rich tapestry of Chinese culture and language through oral literature. Its collection ranges from historical epics to folk tales, providing an authentic and immersive listening experience for those keen on deepening their understanding of the Mandarin language and Chinese cultural heritage.

Pingshu8 is another openly accessible platform with a massive free library to explore.

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Librivox

As a volunteer-driven platform, Librivox provides access to a diverse range of audiobooks, narrated by people from around the world.. While the selection in Chinese might be limited, it’s a good source for classic literature. This setup offers listeners a unique opportunity to hear different accents and styles of languages, including mandarin Chinese and other Chinese dialects such as Taiwanese, Cantonese and Hokkien. It’s worth noting that many of the Mandarin recordings are produced by speakers who are not native.

Librivox is a free resource where you can find public domain audiobooks.

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Scribd

Scribd is a versatile digital library known for its wide-ranging collection of books, audiobooks, and documents. This platform is a great resource for Mandarin learners, providing audiobooks that span various genres and difficulty levels. Its user-friendly interface and the diverse array of content make it an appealing choice for those seeking to improve their Mandarin through immersive listening experiences.

Scribd is a subscription-based platform costing $11.99 USD per month, with a 30-day free trial.

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ChineseClass101

While the resources on Chinese Class 101 are focus on structured lessons, this platform also offers audio resources to complement language learning. In addition to specific audiobooks, ChineseClass101 integrates its audio lessons with other learning resources, creating a holistic learning experience. You can easily find their audiobooks on different platforms.

ChineseClass101 offers a basic free version as well as several different tiers of premium subscriptions, including $4, $10, and $23 USD. Each tier provides access to a larger archive of lessons and additional resources, such as flashcards, quizzes, and even 1-on-1 time with teachers.

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Chinese Audiobook Recommendations for Kids and Adults

One of the biggest challenges when getting started with audiobooks is finding the right kind of stories. For adults, you want content that is simple enough to understand but also engaging and relevant. For younger students, you may be looking for something more playful. Here, we’ve provided a list of books that are appropriate for different age levels. But who knows, you may just enjoy listening to these along with your kids.

Chinese Audiobooks for Kids

Chinese Audiobooks for Adults

Chinese Audiobooks for Different Proficiency Levels

Beyond finding content that is age-appropriate, you also want to ensure that what you’re listening to is truly comprehensible. Taking on a challenge can help you push to improve your listening comprehension skills in Chinese, but if you shoot too far above your current level, you may start to feel lost in the noise. Here are some recommendations based on your unique language level.

1.   Beginner level audiobooks in Chinese

These beginner-level audiobooks are perfect for newcomers, offering clear, slow-paced Mandarin ideal for easy understanding. They focus on essential vocabulary and daily conversations, making the learning experience both manageable and enjoyable. The audiobooks are interactive, incorporating basic words and phrases into engaging narratives, providing a solid foundation in Mandarin through captivating stories.

2.   Intermediate level audiobooks in Chinese

Intermediate-level Chinese audiobooks offer a valuable step up for learners who have mastered the basics. They provide realistic scenarios and dialogues, immersing learners in everyday situations and cultural contexts. Ideal for those transitioning to a higher level of proficiency, these audiobooks blend educational content with engaging narratives, helping learners to confidently navigate more sophisticated aspects of Mandarin.

  • Learn Chinese with Music: Mix learning with music! This audiobook uses songs and rhythms to teach Chinese. It’s fun and effective for intermediate learners.
  • Intermediate Mandarin Chinese: This focuses on expanding vocabulary, mastering complex sentence structures, and understanding intermediate-level grammar, using practical examples relevant to everyday conversations. This audiobook is perfect for those aiming to enhance their fluency in Mandarin and prepare for HSK Level 3 proficiency.
  • Intermediate Mandarin Chinese Speaking and Listening Practice: This features a variety of activities and drills tailored to enhance all aspects of Chinese language skills, such as grammar, vocabulary, role-playing, and listening comprehension.
  • Chinese Conversations for Intermediate:  This contains 60 dialogues, each elevating your language skills to new levels and covering diverse topics relevant to modern society. The dialogues are crafted with contemporary Chinese words, vocabulary, and phrases, all aligned with HSK standards, ensuring learners are equipped with up-to-date and practical language skills​
  • 50 Chinese Conversations and Short Stories: This offers a collection of 50 engaging dialogues and stories designed to enhance everyday conversational skills in Mandarin.

3.   Advanced level audiobooks in Chinese

Ready for a challenge? Advanced audiobooks provide both a challenging language experience and a glimpse into Chinese storytelling. Advanced learners can explore a mix of traditional Chinese literature and contemporary novels, experiencing full immersion in the language. This journey through various genres and eras not only enhances language proficiency but also deepens understanding of Chinese culture and history, making it a rewarding experience for those eager to experience the depths of Mandarin.

Final Words

As you explore the diverse world of Chinese audiobooks across these platforms and recommendations, remember that each audiobook is not just a step towards language proficiency, but also a gateway to understanding the rich world of Chinese culture. Whether through classic literature, modern storytelling, or interactive language lessons, these audiobooks offer a unique blend of education and entertainment. By choosing the right audiobooks from this guide, you can significantly transform the challenging task of language learning into an enjoyable and rewarding journey.

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JING CAO

Jing Cao is the chief-editor and co-founder of DigMandarin. She has a master's degree in Chinese Linguistics and Language Aquisition and has taught thousands of students for the past years. She devotes herself to the education career of making Chinese learning easier throughout the world.

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