I've been looking to improve my Chinese pronunciation and listening skills. When looking at most tv dramas and textbook dialogues, however, I can't help but notice that tones and pitches tend to be overpronunced in a way that just sounds very unnatural to me and different from the Mandarin I hear in my daily life. Because these sources sound unnatural, I don't really "believe" in them and don't think it would be productive to try to imitate them.

This might be a good example. Randomly choosing the conversation at 10:50, and comparing it to the conversation at, say, 11:15 here, the former seems theatrical and overpronunced, unlike the more everyday dialogue present in the latter link.

I'm a male speaker, however, and would need a reality TV show or other media genre with a less theatrical mode of pronunciation and articulation with more male speakers. Aside from reality TV, would anyone have suggestions for other genres? Within reality TV, could anyone recommend some programs?

I have linguistics training, and don't mind answers with technical jargon if one wants to comment on the differences between the two modes.

3 Answers 3


the radio television hong kong has channel in mandarin; in their website, they've archive of past programme, or podcasts.


the site design is a little bit "non-standard", just click any links, until you see "收聽 listen" with a headphone icon.

have fun :)


TV programs that discuss current events and social issues are quite good. Best is having a panel of a few people (not just a one-on-one interview) where a specific topic is discussed - this constrains the range of vocabulary expressed but also provides a variety of different speakers. Often a certain speaker becomes a 'favorite' because of their intonation, sentence structure etc.

Something like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Talk_(TV_series) but in Mandarin would be perfect.


I recommend vlogs (video logs) on Youtube. There are three reasons:

  • (1) vlogs are usually more entertaining than daily news, politics, and the "narrator" will usually speak with a standard, but not an idealized Mandarin accent like CCTV news announcers. Contents vary from everyday life, e.g. travelling, cooking, etc., which are arguably more varied than the "Trump said this, Xi said that, and now the latest COVID-19 numbers..."

  • (2) Vloggers usually speak an everyday language that is rich in those colloquial expressions you would most need to move from "Textbook Mandarin" over to "Real Life Mandarin." The heavily edited journalistic news language, especially that of Xinwen Lianbo, is too sterile to teach you anything beyond the political vocabulary.

  • (3) most vloggers are nice enough to upload their videos with subtitles.

I will list some examples here, but, of course, you can search for whatever suits your interests best.

Beitong北同's channel is probably good if you are already an intermediate Mandarin speaker, he speaks clearly, and it is also a nice "documentary" of everyday life in China.

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小叔TV should be a channel by the same person as above, but features more outdoor and travel videos. As I have seen, it's also more rigorously subtitled. enter image description here

麻雀喳喳野行记 is Youtube account about a young woman's 100 days in a jungle and how she creates tools, shelter, etc. from grass, wood and stones. enter image description here

These are just arbitrary examples that I've been watching lately and have found reasonable good for learning Chinese. There are lots of others, unfortunately, not all of them are subtitled, but with Youtube's recommendations algorithm will find you more, see if you can find something that fits your needs.

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