Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Radio Taiwan app

The free Radio Taiwan app allows me to practice my Mandarin Chinese listening skills with Taiwan radio programs.  At the end of this entry I include the series of screens which led me to 中國廣播新聞網 657 AM (Taipei), which has been reliable so far.  Those characters, 中國廣播新聞網 (Zhōngguó Guǎngbō Xīnwén Wǎng) might nominally be translated as China Broadcasting News Network, but here "China", I consider, would more accurately be translated as "Taiwan".

Some of the other station choices didn't succeed in delivering audio and/or crashed the app.  Based on U.S. radio experience, I kept trying FM ones over AM ones, but this AM one was the first "good" one.  I did first find a different station, but when I tuned in, the broadcast was in Taiwanese, a language which is, sadly, largely out of my realm of listening comprehension.  Although many programs will have a mix of Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese language, I was on the hunt for one as close as possible to 100% the latter.


Years ago a Taiwanese friend of mine, one whose English I rated quite highly, told me that he would often read The Christian Science Monitor and listen to National Public Radio.  He felt the content between the two overlapped often enough to meaningfully reinforce his language learning.

My Chinese reading ability is a far cry from the level needed to comfortably read Chinese language newspapers, but I do read a lot of news stories generally.  I also get occasional news tidbits of particular interest in Taiwan.  Having previously read about today's earthquake in Mexico City, I was well-prepared to understand many of the details the broadcaster announced regarding that event.

I had also known about New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin's advertising deal with Volvo in China, so I got a fair amount of that story as well.  Knowing in advance that his Chinese name is 林書豪 (Lín Shū Háo), which is how he was exclusively referred to in the story, helped there, and naturally "Volvo" is impossible to miss.

瘐肉精 (shòuròujīng) seems to be some sort of lean meat growth hormone fed to animals in the U.S.  Apparently the U.S. is pressuring Taiwan to let such meat be sold in Taiwan, although Taiwan has laws prohibiting its use there.  Google translate does an absolutely wretched job translating 瘐肉精:  "Tourism Bureau meat fine".  Anyway, I knew of this topic before listening to Radio Taiwan just now, but many of the finer details of that story escaped me.

Radio commercials are quite a challenge, providing little context (unlike TV commercials where you can see a video image).  Being short, probably often shorter than many or all news stories, you get little time to figure out what the product is before the commercial is over.  Out of a few commercials, I pretty much only grasped one thing:  "Hitachi".  Well, more practice...at least commercials are likely to be replayed so you could get multiple chances at them.


The successive screens to my new radio station:




There are also opportunities to learn new songs for karaoke...




This station is not visible on the preceding screen, it's lower down.


Naturally, one must keep possible time difference in mind. If it's 3 am in Taiwan, the choice of radio programming is probably less than at 3 pm.

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