Background Listening to Mandarin Radio


I’ve listened to a Mandarin radio station this week while I was otherwise occupied with something else that required my full concentration (e.g. work). I’ve basically done this for about an hour a day over four days this week. It’s not something I normally do as I don’t quite believe that listening to Mandarin in the background can have much of an influence on my learning ability but after just four hours of listening I can see the benefit. After all, I think doing this is the closest I can get myself to being in an “immersed” environment. And half an hour of background listening a day is the very least I could and should be doing.

These may be some of the benefits as I see it:

  • I think first of all – even though you’re not actively listening to what is being said, you are getting exposure to different accents. (For example the station I was listening to, were often conducting phone interviews with native Mandarin speakers, thus women, men, young people and old and I guess it presented an opportunity to listen to all kinds of accents and voices.)
  • Even while I wasn’t actively listening to see if I could understand the conversation or bits of it – at least, I could still somehow “zone in” on a person’s pronunciation to see why it was so difficult for me to “get” their pronunciation. I think it was the older men with more hoarse voices that were certainly the most challenging for me and I don’t think it necessarily was the fact that they were older. (In fact – I think it may have to do with the number of cigarettes they’ve smoked over the course of their lives.) Sad but possibly very true. :(
  • I understood only little bits here and there when I recognized a few words and certainly far from enough to get the gist of each conversation or each news topic but I made a point of jotting words down that I heard several times or picked up as my brain had a chance to pay better attention to the conversation.

I’m sharing with you most of the words I’ve encountered this week in my background listening “experiment”. Actually blogging about this has forced me to look up these words and seek out their meaning and in the process I might help you discover or learn something new as well.

I’ve found the sentences below mostly on via MDBG and I’ll be adding all of these sentences to my own personal Anki deck and hopefully I will have studied these sentences within the next month or so as I wait for them to come up in my Anki deck. Besides the words I’ve identified, (as one would expect) these sentences present yet more words to learn in turn.

Normally, I’m not sure what words I should be looking for when I do sentence mining. Most of the times, I add things (phrases and sentences) as I find them in tweets (e.g. or or elsewhere (fellow learners, blogs). I don’t normally go hunting for sentences I guess cause I’m not always good at knowing or assessing what vocab I need to study and as I rarely speak with a native speaker, I don’t often have conversations where I have opportunity to find myself stumbling for a word. (Actually – I just know that there’s a massive amount of vocab that I need to learn and study but I often don’t know where to start.)

I guess this approach of listening to the radio (or any other background audio for that matter) and picking up words while doing so is the ‘lazy’ way of adding vocab that I need to learn. Howewer, it presents an opportunity to give background listening a try and even though I never quite believed in it before, I admit it has at least “forced” me to look up these new words I’ve identified. To be honest, it’s also cool to recognize new words especially transliterations or using context to help you identify the meaning of words.

So without further ado, please browse the collection of sentences below. Hopefully with this post I’ve helped you find a useful sentence or too, but please feel free to share a sentence with me if you have a better one or if I’ve failed to provide a sentence.

Sentences and vocabulary for your flash cards deck:

澳大利亚 Àodàlìyà = Australia / Australian / same as 澳洲 Àozhōu Australia (continent) / abbr. for

讨论 tǎolùn = to discuss / to talk over

We’ll discuss some of these issues in detail a bit later.
我们 稍后 会 详细 讨论 这些 问题 。
Wǒmen shāo hòu huì xiángxì tǎolùn zhèxiē wèntí
Avoid discussions of technology
避免 讨论 技术
Bìmiǎn tǎolùn jìshù
We’ll discuss some of these issues in detail a bit later.
我们 稍后 会 详细 讨论 这些 问题
Wǒmen shāo hòu huì xiángxì tǎolùn zhèxiē wèntí

开放 kāifang = to bloom / to open / to be open (to the public) / to open up (to the outside) / to be open-minded / unrestrained by convention / unconstrained in one’s sexuality

The fountain plays on Sundays.
喷泉 星期天 开放
Pēnquán xīngqí tiān kāifàng

电台 diàntái = transmitter-receiver / broadcasting station / radio station /

Let’ s listen to some music on the radio.
咱们 听 听 电台 广播 的 音乐 吧 。
Zánmen tīng tīng diàntái guǎngbò de yīnyuè ba.
The radio signed off at midnight.
电台 午夜 停止 播音 。
Diàntái wǔyè tíngzhǐ bòyīn

收受 shōushòu= receive / to accept

I’m not used to receiving Christmas presents.
我 还 没有 收受 圣诞 礼物 的 习惯
Wǒ hái méiyǒu shōushòu shèngdàn lǐwù de xíguàn

另外 lìngwài =additional / in addition / besides / separate / other / moreover / furthermore
No sentence sorry!

当地 = dāngdì

The local people are always very friendly towards tourists.
当地 人 对 游客 一向 十分 热情
Dāngdì rén duì yóukè yīxiàng shífēn rèqíng

欧洲 Ōuzhōu = Europe

A lot of cars are manufactured in Europe.
很 多 汽车 是 欧洲 制造 的
Hěnduō qìchē shì ōuzhōu zhìzào de

显目 xiǎnmù = outstanding / conspicuous

The black shows up against the white.
在 白色 的 衬托 下 ,黑色 很 显目
Zài báisè de chèntuō xià, hēisè hěn xiǎn mù

羡慕xiànmù = to envy / to admire

His talent is the envy of his colleagues.
他 的 同事 都 羡慕 他 的 才能
Tā de tóngshì dōu xiànmù tā de cáinéng
“You are so lucky to have a brother,”said the boy with envy.
“你 真 幸运 ,有 个 哥哥 ”男孩 羡慕 地 说 。
“Nǐ zhēn xìngyùn, yǒu gè gēgē” nánhái xiànmù de shuō.

面对 miànduì = to confront / to face
No sentence sorry!

发达 fādá = developed

In the fifties attention shifted to the underdeveloped countries of Asia.
在 五十 年代 ,注意力 转向 亚洲 的 不 发达国家
Zài wǔshí niándài, zhùyì lì zhuǎnxiàng yàzhōu de bù fādá guójiā

索马利亚 Suǒmǎlìyà – Yes you’ve guessed it – it means “Somalia”

耳朵 ěrduo – Even though I knew this one means ear – it’s interesting to learn that it can also refer to the handle of a cup. Something we do also in Afrikaans (a language related to Dutch) but I’m not sure if you can refer to the handle of a cup as its ‘ear’ in English. I think not… but happy to be corrected.

奥克兰 Àokèlán = Auckland

民族 mínzú = nationality / ethnic group

The Chinese are an industrious nation.
中华民族 是 个 勤劳 的 民族
Zhōnghuá mínzú shìgè qínláo de mínzú

了解 = liǎojiě = to understand / to realize / to find out

Digital products regularly assume that people are technology literate.
数字 产品 往往 假设 人们 非常 了解 技术
Shùzì chǎnpǐn wǎngwǎng jiǎshè rénmen fēicháng liǎojiě jìsh

下滑 xiàhuá = sliding / slide /Descend; decline; drop; fall; lapse
No sentence sorry.

努力 nǔlì = great effort / to strive / to try hard

If a person really wants something, he will work harder to get it.
如果 一个人 真 的 想 获得 某种 东西 ,那 他 愿意 付出 更 多 的 努力
Rúguǒ yīgè rén zhēn de xiǎng huòdé mǒu zhǒng dōngxi, nà tā yuànyì fùchū gèng duō de nǔlì

奴隶 =núlì = slave

A drunkard is in bondage to alcohol.
酒鬼 是 酒 的 奴隶
Jiǔguǐ shì jiǔ de núlì

发行 fāxíng = hair style

She takes care about her weight and how her hair looks.
她 注意 自己 的 体重 和 发型 。
Tā zhùyì zìjǐ de tǐzhòng hé fǎxíng
I don’t think that hair-style is you, ie It doesn’t suit your personality.
我 认为 那 发型 不 适合 你 .
Wǒ rènwéi nà fǎxíng bù shìhé nǐ.
Do you like my new hairdo ?
Nǐ xǐhuan wǒ de xīn fǎxíng ma?

国力 = guólì = national strength
This one – was used in the context of speaking about a country e.g. 新加坡的国力 (Singapore’s national strength…)

中药 = Zhōngyào (traditional) Chinese medicine

Did the Chinese medicine help?
那 中药 有效 吗 ?
Nà zhōngyào yǒuxiào ma?

成人 = chéngrén = adult

承认 = chéngrèn = to admit / to concede / to recognize / recognition (diplomatic, artistic etc) / to acknowledge

充足 chōngzú = adequate / sufficient / abundant

Plenty of fresh air contributes to good health.
充足 新鲜 的 空气 有助于 健康

重组 chóngzǔ = to reorganize / to recombine / recombination

保全 bǎoquán = to save from damage / to preserve / to maintain / to keep in good repair

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