So I 'm getting ready for my trip to China and one thing I have to do is sharpen up my ear. You see, I have let my Chinese lapse some. I could be more persistent in finding ways to speak Chinese, and listen to to spoken Chinese, but I generally don't. Laziness? Inertia? Something like that. But every so often I put myself into Chinese language environments (2006: PRC twice; 2008: Taiwan) and I find I can get back up to a pretty good level of comprehension and expression fairly quickly. But I want to get a head start this time (I leave on Friday!) and I have taken up various means of listening to Chinese. My shortwave radio helps. Better than that, however, are the videos on Sexy Beijing.
They do a great job in presenting a range of current concerns (in some cases with new turns of phrase), mostly through interviews with people speaking good clear Mandarin. The English subtitles help me to quickly fill in the gaps that I miss on first hearing. And, of course, with the incomparable Su Fei, it's fun.
I find the Hard Hat Show and Sexy Beijing to be some of the most useful videos from a language-freshening point of view. Also, over at Danwei, the website that gave rise to all of this to begin with, there is a series of interviews with a various Chinese bloggers, which is also a good way to get some Mandarin into the ears.
I'll leave you with Danwei's most recent interview: