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I often stress the importance of making Chinese interesting and/or fun. This is why I’ve written articles about how to use computer games and sports to learn languages. The reason behind this is that learning a language takes an awful lot of time and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it’s going to be hard to force yourself to study and you won’t learn as efficiently either. If you really like what you’re doing, on the other hand, accumulating hours is much easier..

If you watch the football world cup, you should watch it in Chinese

footballThis is an excellent example of when you should definitely convert an interest or a hobby to Chinese. If you like football, you probably know enough about the game to be able to follow what’s going on even if you don’t understand what the commentators are saying. You’ll understand enough based on context that you will be able to pick up lots of words and phrases without even studying if you watch a lot.

Naturally, the more advanced your Chinese is, the easier this is going to be, but just as Luke wrote in a guest article earlier this month:

The progress of a sporting match can be followed even with the sound turned off, making it an ideal starting place for beginners as you’ll never lose the plot.

Where to watch the world cup online in Chinese

I must admit that I’m no football fan myself, but if I’m going to watch any games, it’s going to be in Chinese. I did some research for this article and found a few sites where you can watch live games (and sometimes also recordings of old games). There’s also plenty of related news, discussions and so on, but I’m mostly interested in streamed matches with commentary in Chinese. I tried these links during the games yesterday and they worked well, but some of them might be region-dependent:

  1. 风云直播 - This is a sports channel in general, so when there’s no football, there will be something else (Formula 1 when I checked). There is a schedule in the top navigation bar (节目单) where you can see when matches will be broadcast. There’s a lot more going on than football here.
  2. 新浪体育台 - Live streaming, not only of matches, but also with a lot of analysis and discussions of earlier and future games. There seems to be a lot of football even when there are no matches being played, in other words. Seems to work outside China as well.
  3. Search on Soku – This is probably the best method if you’re not looking for live streaming. Many of them require you to be in China or fool the server into believing that you are. I have so far failed to find recordings of old matches freely available outside China, please leave a comment if you know where to find them.
  4. 凤凰网 - Portal site for coverage of the world cup, includes lots of news (list), live streaming, match schedule and information about teams.
  5. 搜狐体育 - Similar to the other sites, offers a wealth of news and general coverage. There are also old matches to watch, but you have to be in China to view them.
  6. 网易体育 – Contains lots of news, general coverage and live streams. You can also view old matches, but again, it requires you to be in China.

If you have any other suggestions, especially if you know some way of watching old matches outside China, do let me know and I’ll add it to the list! Any other useful sites would also be nice, such as those below about vocabulary for watching football.

Some links to help you with vocabulary

I did a quick search and found several sites that offers basic football vocabulary in Chinese:

You can easily find more using any search engine. Still, only focus on this if you want to. If you think it’s boring, just watch the game, you’ll learn common words soon enough anyway if you pay attention.

Focus on what you understand

If you haven’t watched sports in Chinese before, there will be a period in the beginning where it’s going to be hard. The more you listen, the more you adapt, though, so don’t give up just because you don’t understand much during the first match.

After a while, though, you should start recognising common words and phrases. Focus on these. Focus on what you understand. There will be plenty of things you don’t understand, but that’s not the point here. If you never expose yourself to real Chinese, you will never learn to understand it. Getting used to it takes time.

Beyond football

Personally, I’m not so much into football, so I’m going to watch StarCraft 2 matches in Chinese instead. The StarCraft 2 tournament in Taiwan’s E-Sports League has just entered the playoff stage and is starting to get exciting! Can the Koreans be beaten?

The point is, it doesn’t really matter what you watch, but if you like football, StarCraft 2 or something else, you really should make an effort and try to watch in Chinese instead of your native language. It’s fun and you’ll learn a lot at the same time!


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12 Responses to How and why to watch the world cup in Chinese

  1. Yang Yu says:

    I disagree. As a Chinese though watching most television programmes on BBC 1 and listening radio on BBC radio 4 without any problem of comprehension, I found it’s impossible for me to figure out what is going on when switching the channel to sports programme. I can’t even distinguish the words commentator is saying. At last I gave up with accepting the fact that sports programme does not speak English.

    • Olle Linge says:

      Are you watching sports you are already familiar with in Chinese? I mean, it’s going to be really hard to understand a game you don’t know about, obviously. For instance, when I first started watching StarCraft matches in Chinese, I was already familiar with such matches in English. In other words, it’s a matter of mapping things to already existing structures. That being said, the experience might of course vary a lot between different sports and channels, but in general, watching sports in Chinese is a lot easier than most other programmes in my experience!

      • Yang Yu says:

        Well, your last sentence tells the truth: you must be familiar with the content in your mother tongue first. For me, I dislike any kind of sport which obviously means I can’t be attracted to corresponding English version. Maybe the article better be added in the headline: for sports fans only. I myself am attracted to news, culture and philosophy programmes.

        • Olle Linge says:

          Yes, but if you read the article, it should be very clear that I’m talking to people who already plan to watch the world cup. I have no idea why you want to watch the world cup if you dislike football. I spend the entire first paragraph talking about the importance of finding fun ways of learning, so if you don’t like sports, this obviously isn’t for you! In your case, I would say continue listening to news, culture and philosophy programs if you enjoy them. You’re probably more like me, actually, I don’t enjoy footbaal either. You could also try some audio books, I accredit most of my English ability to having read or listened to hundreds of novels in English.

  2. david says:

    i watch the world cup in english and then post my commentary on wechat and weibo in chinese during or after the game. it’s helped me learn the names of the countries, and some vocabulary like “referee” and “cheating”. my friends and former students will respond in chinese and sometimes point out my mistakes. it’s a good system because it prevents boredom, especially if you have opinionated friends!

    • Olle Linge says:

      That sounds pretty good to me, first consuming media, then producing something based on your experience, thus stressing both input and output in a meaningful way!

    • xiaokaka says:

      Have you seen this quiz? Got it sent to me on weixin. Quite easy if you watch some football, but good to learn the names of players and countries in Chinese.

      笑色特了,猜球星

      • xiaokaka says:

        世界杯扫盲知识问答,看看你是不是如假包换的伪球迷?
        以下哪个是葡萄牙球星?
        A:A罗
        B:B罗
        C:C罗
        D:D罗
        以下哪个是阿根廷球星?
        A:梅东
        B:梅南
        C:梅西
        D:梅北
        以下哪个是巴西球星?
        A:外牛尔
        B:内牛尔
        C:外马尔
        D:内马尔
        以下哪个是英格兰球星?
        A:黑帕德
        B:蓝帕德
        C:绿帕德
        D:红帕德
        以下哪个是法国球星?
        A:上贝上
        B:下贝下
        C:里贝里
        D:外贝外
        下哪个是荷兰球星?
        A:粥佩西
        B:粉佩西
        C:面佩西
        D:饭佩西
        以下哪个是西班牙球星?
        A:托风斯
        B:托火斯
        C:托雷斯
        D:托电斯
        以下哪个是英格兰球星?
        A:撸管
        B:撸面
        C:鲁尼
        D:鲁大师
        以下哪个是乌拉圭球星?
        A:苏亚粉丝
        B:苏亚肉丝
        C:苏亚黑丝
        D:苏亚蕾丝
        以下哪个是意大利球星?
        A:毛儿落
        B:发儿落
        C:皮儿落
        D:泪儿落
        以下哪个是德国球星?
        A:171
        B:272
        C:373
        D:474
        以下哪个是比利时球星?
        A:恐怕我
        B:恐怕你
        C:恐怕他
        D:恐怕怕
        以下哪个是日本球星?
        A:丰田龟左
        B:丰田龟右
        C:本田龟左
        D:本田龟右
        以下哪个是韩国球星?
        A:吃智星
        B:喝智星
        C:嫖智星
        D:赌智星
        以下哪个是克罗地亚球星?
        A:慢牛基奇
        B:慢马基奇
        C:慢猪基奇
        D:慢狗基奇
        以下哪个是哥伦比亚球星?
        A:法尔烧
        B:法尔炖
        C:法尔蒸
        D:法尔烤
        以下哪个是波黑球星?
        A:文科
        B:理科
        C:工科
        D:哲科
        以下哪个是喀麦隆球星?
        A:高托奥
        B:矮托奥
        C:胖托奥
        D:瘦托奥
        以下哪个是智利球星?
        A:373
        B:374
        C:375
        D:376
        以下哪个是澳大利亚球星?
        A:拉希尔
        B:希拉尔
        C:希拉里
        D:卡希尔
        以下哪个是希腊球星?
        A:萨马兰奇
        B:萨马拉斯
        C:萨达姆
        D:萨满祭司
        以下哪个是科特迪瓦球星?
        A:鸡鸡图雷
        B:鸭鸭图雷
        C:猫猫图雷
        D:狗狗图雷
        以下哪个是尼日利亚球星?
        A:米克尔
        B:麦克尔
        C:法克尔
        D:乔科尔
        以下哪个是加纳球星?
        A:蒙鼓里
        B:蒙被里
        C:蒙塔里
        D:蒙庙里
        以下哪个是美国球星?
        A:多一万
        B:多两万
        C:多几万
        D:多诺万
        以下哪个是瑞士球星?
        A:森德螺丝
        B:森德螺母
        C:森德螺栓
        D:森德螺帽

  3. Michael says:

    The second link you provided is kind of funny. During the match Belgium-Algeria you can see two Chinese guys occupying two thirds of the screen watching the football match. In the upper right hand side you see an actual tv screen where the match is running. That’s probably copyright related or something.
    Anyway, nice suggestions and links.

  4. Dan says:

    If you’re in China, you can watch it live on TV! I would think they’d be showing the games in Taiwan too?

    • Olle Linge says:

      Yes, of course, but I think most people who live in a Chinese speaking country knows that they can turn on the TV to find football matches, so I didn’t bother to mention that. It’s much harder if you don’t have a TV or don’t live in a Chinese speaking country, so that’s what I focused on!

  5. bonbon2 says:

    A tip for intermediate level learners for checking up specific terms the commentators might use – try googling for the following keyword: 足球術語中英對照 (soccer terminology in Chinese and English). As when I’m typing here, Germany has just defeated the French by 1:0, wow!

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