Lesson Levels Explained

Whether you’re a complete beginner (Newbie) or an advanced learner, ChinesePod has a lesson for you. In today’s post i’m going to give you a brief introduction to all the levels that we offer.


Our lessons are divided into six different levels, similar to other standards such as the common european framework or the HSK exams.

We divide our courses like this:

  • Newbie
  • Elementary
  • Intermediate
  • Upper-Intermediate
  • Advanced, (Regular and Media)


Newbie / 新手


If you’re new to Chinese, we recommend you to start on the newbie classes.  They contain all the basic information to get you speaking as soon as possible and contain high use phrases for greetings, directions, introducing yourself etc.  

We recommend you begin with the Say It Right video series which will get you started with Chinpronunciationtion, and ensure you don't develop bad habits later on. 


At this stage your progress will skyrocket and you will see noticeable improvements in your understanding of Chinese each and every day.  The Newbie level is mostly spoken in English, and contains lots of repetition of the target language to really train your ear to this new and exotic language.  We recommend listening to around 50 lessons before moving on to the next level.  Not sure where to start?  Try our

Not sure where to start?  Try our Newbie Course and the Say it Right series. 




You’re a little more comfortable with the language by now and are beginning to understand common expressions. Ni3 hao3 no longer sounds like a cat meowing, and you can tell your friends that “Yeah, I can speak 一点点中文”

The elementary level contains hundreds of conversations to rapidly improve your language for most of the situations that life throws at you. At this stage we begin to introduce basic grammar structures, (don’t worry, Chinese grammar is easier than most languages). We recommend listening to at least 80 lessons before graduating to the next level. Again, the shows are mostly in English, and each sentence gets broken down and clarified so there’s no need to worry.


Intermediate 中级


Congratulations, you’re an intermediate learner. You can now officially make basic conversations, and try talking about more complex situations.  You are probably less frustrated by your lack of understanding of Chinese, but at the same time, your speed of improvement will slow at this level.  Fear not, you need to bust through this barrier.  Continue to listen to ChinesePod each day and you will see gradual improvements.  At this level, you will hear lots more Chinese in the lesson, with one host usually speaking in Chinese, and the other speaking in English. We recommend listening to at least 120 lessons before graduating because at this level, difficulty levels are beginning to get spaced out, so the difference between newbie and elementary is a lot smaller than the jump from elementary to intermediate.


Upper Intermediate 高中级


Upper-intermediate lessons are for students with conversational fluency but looking to use more sophisticated language and tacklspecialisedialized topics. You can get around easily in day to day life and have casual chats with your friends, but as soon as conversations or situations move away from the familiar, your comprehension drops and you get frustrated at not being able to express yourself fully. This level includes;

Advanced grammar patterns and specialised vocabulary.
Primarily in Chinese, with some English.
Recommended: 160 lessons


Advanced 高级


Advanced lessons are the black-belt of ChinesePod: you can already speak circles around your friends, but are looking for “complete” fluency in Chinese. There are two types of lesson in the advanced levels. The traditional lesson that contain;

Specialized, nuanced, and formal vocabulary.
Entirely in Chinese.

We also have the media lessons that are discussions about whats happening in the news or on the internet and spoken entirely in Chinese. These are much more conversational and less focused on a rigid dialogue.

You will notice that the titles are now all in Chinese, because at this level, you can probably already read some Chinese. Whether you have been studying Chinese for a while, or perhaps you haven’t done any for a long time and maintain what you learnt, Advanced is the way to go.

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