I want to improve my chinese listening skills. I have some audios with transcripts. I want to know what is the most effective way to improve my listening skills.

Should I read the transcript before the listening or read it as I listen to the audio? Or should I try to listen the audio without looking at the transcript before hand at all?

What would be the most effective way/task order to improve my listening skills? Is there any evidence on this based on research or your teaching experience?

  • Listen to Chinese songs because the vocal modulation that the singer needs to attain to be "in tune" with the music brings out the various inflection of the words, which is less when spoken. And of course sing the songs yourself. Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 1:36

2 Answers 2


I reckon all the methods you mentioned can improve your listening. A common efficient way is: listening without transcripts first, read the transcripts while listening second, and listening without transcripts finally.

However, everyone has their own best method, but the core is the amount of listening (more listening time and more materials are better). The method I mentioned above is a bad method for me, because I cannot do it for a long time. It's very boring for me.

If you are similar with me, I think good Chinese movies and dramas are good, because they are funny and will attract you to learn more. You don't need to listen any material repeatedly. Because Chinese is a very high-context style language. It has far more words with the same or similar pronunciation than most languages. So, materials should be a very large amount. In addition, similar Chinese sentences will appear again in other materials. Certain words or sentences are clearly more effective to hear in different contexts.

Therefore, if a method is interested for you (means you can do it for a very long time regularly) and you can easily try to listen and understand materials carefully, it's your best way to improve Chinese listening.

edited: Pitfall: I think I should highlight some key point. A very common pitfall is 泛听, which means trying to listen a huge amount of all kinds of listening materials without carefulness. For example, if materials are too hard for you (like you can understand less then around 10% at your first listening), it will be useless. Because they are like noise for you. And if the difficulty of materials are good, but you just treat them as background sound without very little thinking, it's also useless.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask me again.


I think Havier's answer hits the mark...these methods work but it also depends on the person. An alternative you can consider is finding any audio source in Chinese and record individual sentences with gaps in between. Then when you are on a commute or bored you can play these audio files and guess their meaning. It would also help if you recorded your answers after the gaps too so you have feedback if youre right or wrong. I've crafted an example of this format below:

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The Pimsleur program incorporates this approach if you want to take a look at examples, but you can just as easily make your own. An example of this format can be found here:


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