10 Chinese Audiobooks to Improve Your Listening Skills

July 3, 2020

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I firmly believe that reading is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to expand your Chinese vocabulary. Now add some listening practice to your reading activity and you’re really set to supercharge your language learning. The best way to do this is to use your reading material in combination with Chinese audiobooks.

Audiobooks not only expose you to native speech to help improve your pronunciation and listening skills, but are also great for on the go learning.

Where to find Chinese audiobooks

There are many places you can find free Chinese audiobooks if you are willing to scour the internet. You can check out this list by PeraPera or try looking on Quora or Reddit forums for suggestions.

I’ve heard good things about using Ximalaya FM (喜马拉雅) to listen to free Chinese audiobooks, but you may find it a bit daunting to navigate as both the website and app are entirely in 汉字. The Chalk Academy has an in-depth article on how to use the app if you would like to try it out.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to go hunting for free ebooks, Audible is your best friend. Audible has a decent selection of Chinese audiobooks and offers a reliable, affordable and easy-to-navigate platform.

Here are 10 Chinese audiobooks you’ll find on Audible. I have chosen a selection to appeal a range of proficiency levels. 

Try out a free 30-day Audible trial to get started.

For Upper Beginner and Intermediate learners

Chinese Short Stories for Beginners:  Improve Your Reading and Listening Skills in Chinese

Length: 5 hours and 49 minutes

This collection of 30 easy Chinese short stories introduces more than 1,500 Chinese words and expressions. The Chinese narrator speaks slowly enough for learners to keep up easily and each paragraph is followed by the English translation.

The audiobook version has an accompanying PDF that will be available in your Audible library when you purchase the title. 

Get it here.

Chinese Short Stories: 11 Simple Stories for Beginners Who Want to Learn Mandarin Chinese in Less Time While Also Having Fun

Length: 4 hours and 5 minutes

This collection includes 11 short stories designed to help Chinese language learners improve their reading fluency and listening skills.

While the title suggests that this book is aimed at beginner learners, some of the reviews have pointed out that it is not suitable for absolute beginners and assumes that you have at least some knowledge of the language.  

This collection is also available in Kindle and print version so you can follow along with the audiobook. Each chapter includes Pinyin, English translation, a vocabulary list and some questions to test your comprehension.

Get it here.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Curly Haired Company: Mandarin Companion Graded Readers

Length: 59 minutes

The Mandarin Companion Graded Readers series is an excellent introduction to reading in Chinese. There are many titles to choose from, including classics like Emma, The Secret Garden and The Prince and the Pauper.

This audiobook edition of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Curly Haired Company  is graded at level one, meaning it introduces 300 unique Chinese characters (for upper-intermediate students). The story is also available in print and on Kindle.

Get it here.

Chinese language learning courses

Chinese (Mandarin) Level 1 Lessons 1-5: Learn to Speak and Understand Mandarin Chinese with Pimsleur Language Programs

Length: 2 hours and 48 minutes

The Pimsleur language programs are a widely-respected in the language learning community, but are a bit pricey. Try out this introductory Chinese course with your free Audible trial if you are unsure whether you want to shell out the cash for the complete course.

Get it here.

Learn Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for Beginners – Complete Course

Length: 15 hours and 1 minute

An in-depth audio course for beginner learners of Mandarin Chinese by popular language teacher Paul Noble.

Follow this up with Next Steps in Mandarin Chinese with Paul Noble for intermediate students.

Get it here.

For Advanced learners

Journey to the West: Children’s Edition

Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins

Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature and an important read for anyone interested in Chinese culture. This children’s edition received great reviews on Audible.

I have placed it in the Advanced section because this audiobook is not specifically designed for language learners like the previous entries in this list, but Upper Intermediate learners may be up to the challenge.

Get it here.

爱丽丝奇境历险记 [Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland] (Audio Drama)

Length: 1 hour and 45 minutes

This lively interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s well-loved tale has excellent voice-acting and sound effects. Although this audiobook is aimed at children, beginner learners may find it hard to keep up with the narration. 

Get it here.

最漫长的那一夜 [An Endless Night] – Cai Jun

Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes

This one is on my TBR (TBL?) list! Cai Jun (蔡骏 ) is one of China’s most popular suspense novelists.  I enjoyed  病毒 (Virus) so I am looking forward to tackling another of his novels.

Get it here.

简爱 [Jane Eyre]

Length: 26 hours and 1 minute

More advanced learners can try out Charlotte Brontë’s classic bildungsroman. Jane Eyre tells the life story of orphan Jane Eyre, who falls in love with the broody Byronic hero with a dark secret, Edward Rochester. 

I recommend you also check out Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, an anti-colonial response to Jane Eyre told from the point of view of Antoinette Cosway, Rochester’s ‘mad’ wife. It is well worth the read as a powerful indictment of colonialism, patriarchal oppression and racism.

Get it here.

奥巴马,我的总统梦[Barack Obama: A Biography]

Length: 6 hours and 35 minutes

Another option for advanced learners looking for native Chinese reading material is this biography of former US president Barack Obama. 

Get it here.

Do you use audiobooks to improve your listening skills? Do you have any book recommendations?

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