Many years back, Hippocrene began adding audio accompaniment CDs to our line of "Beginner's" books, so that students of these languages could hear and repeat the books dialogues along with native speakers.
Recently, we decided to digitize these accompaniment tracks and make them available online. The first audio accompaniment on the list, falling in line with this blog's focus on preparing travelers for the Beijing Olympics, is Beginner's Chinese, by Yong Ho. Give it a try! You can download tracks using your web browser or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes.
The audio tracks, of course, weren't created to be stand-alone learning tools, and listeners trying to learn the language from scratch may be a bit baffled without a copy of Beginner's Chinese in hand. For those who know some Chinese, however, the dialogues certainly provide a good refresher course in the basics of Chinese conversation and can serve a good indicator (for those scratching their heads about whether they should buy Beginner's Chinese or our more advanced Intermediate Chinese) of just how advanced your Chinese level may be.
That's not to say that there isn't something here for the traveler, casual learner, or person simply curious to learn a few Chinese phrases, though! If you have trouble figuring out how to pronounce the Chinese phonetics in our last entry, on Zhujiajiao, try listening to the pinyin practice track while looking at the chart below--this will not only give you a sense of how to read and pronounce the Chinese Romanization system, but also provide an introduction to Mandarin's four tones.
If you have questions about the podcast tracks, or about pinyin or learning Chinese in general, feel free to leave comments and we'll find an expert in the language to respond!