Read News, Learn Chinese 看新闻学中文

By Ling-Ling Lisa Shih

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Helpful tools and a Chinese News App you can use to help you understand Chinese news.

See below for  a wealth of resources that allow you to read, watch, and listen to Chinese news reports! 

It is a good idea to keep up with the news, so we can keep abreast of what is happening in the world. It will prevent us from staying overly self-focused and extend our concerns to the issues and events that affect community, society, and the world we live in.  That is the most important reason why I think more advanced language learners should look into news for learning materials. Not only can reading/listening/watching news enhance Chinese reading and listening comprehension, but it also keeps us well-informed. As an old Chinese saying goes , “秀才不出门,能知天下事。” (Without going out, a scholar can know all the world’s affairs.” )

Now with the internet, it is even easier to stay current with what’s going on in the world. It is another good reason why Chinese news is a good source of language materials: They are easily accessible through the internet and free! News can be easily obtained from many sources–through on-line newspapers or over radio or TV networks–all accessible through the internet. With the abundance of news from various sources, we have to be cautious about what we hear or read. Journalistic reports are supposed to be unbiased and based on facts, but their reports are not always neutral or truthful.  It is important that we sharpen our critical skills to discover the assumptions, intentions, or hidden agenda (if any)  behind each writing piece. We need to read critically, so we can discern facts from opinions. Knowing where the news comes from and the position of the publisher will help us determine its credibility and discern if the report reflects a certain bias, perspective,  or political ideology.

News broadcasts can be hard to follow even for more advanced learners because news reports are often delivered at a fast-pace rate and read from a scripted speech rather than with easily understandable spoken language. But some news have a lot of interviews that are easy to understand for more advanced learners. Olle Linge in A Complete Guide to Learning Chinese with the News has suggested quite a few “good tips and tricks for learning Chinese with the news.” First, Linge suggests reading how to make Chinese input more comprehensible as “one solid step closer to understanding Chinese news.”  This article teaches some Chinese comprehension strategies and skills we can apply to understanding Chinese broadcasts.

The general rule of thumb for learning Chinese through news is take advantage of any scaffolding supports you can get through written language and language tools (which I will introduce later in the article). Once you are familiarized with the content of the news by reading a news article with the help of language tools (Chinese-English Dictionaries中英英中字典 or a Popup Dictionary / Mandarin Spot annotation tool), listening to its video coverage won’t sound like gibberish any more. With the news videos, you can usually find their scripts by clicking on a link on the screen. You will be happy you can begin to understand what is broadcasted and comprehend more and more as you persist and persevere. There are quite a few websites providing news in both Chinese and English that can be helpful in your reading comprehension. Even though many of the bilingual news are intended for English learners, they can also facilitate news reading for Chinese language learners as well.

For the remainder of this article, I will introduce you helpful tools you can use to help you understand Chinese news. I will also provide you with a wealth of resources that allow you to read, watch, or listen to Chinese news reports.

I hope all of us will strive to set time aside to keep updated with what’s going on in the world. It takes discipline to read news daily considering how easy we can get pulled in “million” directions and many obligations we need to fulfill. Just like exercise, allot a set schedule for 30-minute news reading time.

I think it is very “cool” to be able to read news in both Chinese and English and see the world from both cultural lenses. That is the privilege for knowing more than one language.

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Language Tools to Facilitate Your News Reading:

  • Tong Wen Tang plugin for FirefoxChrome or Safari: Traditional and Simplified Chinese Converter:

For the news articles written in traditional Chinese, you can use the following plugin to convert on-line texts into the simplified Chinese. It is very easy to install to your device. Just install it and the plugin symbol will appear at the right upper corner of the screen. toggle it to convert the on-line text in traditional Chinese to the simplified.

  • Chinese-English Popup Dictionaries

After adding a pop-up dictionary on your electronic device, it will allow one’s mouse to point at any Chinese word on a web page and immediately get its definition and pinyin.



If you don’t want to hassle with downloading any plugins, you can simply paste some text into the Mandarin Spot annotation tool, and then press ‘annotate’. It will provide in-line pronunciation, pop-up English definition when you hover over the words.

For more language tools, please go to:

News Sources for Language Learners:

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(This one is good also for language learners who want to learn English through news: 英文广播 Broadcast in English:VOA /VOA慢速 (at a slower spead)_ /VOA常速 (at a normal speed) /VOA视频 (Videos)  /BBC /CNN /CRINPR /CNN Student News as it is VOA词汇 经济学人)

Read and Listen to News in Chinese:

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Designed for Chinese language learners.

When you go to the RTI News’ main page, click on the following for the news:

RTI  新聞即時聽(新闻即时听)Instant News

  • 晨間新聞(晨间新闻)Morning News
  • 午間新聞(午间新闻)Noon News
  • 晚間新聞(晚间新闻)Evening News

Beside news, RTI also includes a wide variety of programs.  Iff you are interested, here are some other programs you can listen to improve your Chinese listening comprehension:

On this page, you can find:

There are both Simplified and Traditional Versions:  

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Watch TV News in Chinese

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Chinese texts, but broadcasts may delivered in English, Cantonese, Chinese)

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News Reported in English

 News in Chinese language:

News on China (in English Language)

More Resources on Chinese News: On-line Newspapers: Chinese Newspapers

To read free magazine articles, please go to : Learn Chinese through Magazine Articles 读杂志学中文

Additional Resources:

Here are Chinese news article assignments I have given to my students: 

(HSK 1 Level)