Taking advantage of embedded lyrics to streamline your language learning

Since I got my Android Nexus One in May of last year I’ve been looking for an Android music player that displays embedded text (“lyrics”) while you’re listening, and I finally found a free one called Astro Player


I am currently in the process of embedding all of the characters, Pinyin transliterations, translations and vocabulary tables into all of my lessons from LingQ, ChinesePod, ChineseClass101, and CSLPod for easy viewing on my device. It’s a lot of preliminary work, but it’s greatly increased the effectiveness and convenience of my Mandarin learning.

The reason this is so great is that you can view the text that corresponds to any audio you’re listening to on your Android smartphone or mp3 device, it simply requires that you use iTunes to embed the text in the “properties” of the audio track under “lyrics”.

This means you can refer to the text of a lesson without having to access any sites or search for a particular lesson. (ChineseClass101 pre-embeds the simplified characters and the translations in their dialogues, which means that I only have to add the pinyin transliterations and the vocabulary lists from the lesson notes, whereas ChinesePOD and ChineseLearnOnline only pre-embed the characters, and CSLPod does not embed anything at all, and they are therefore useless to beginners who are trying to learn the spoken language first unless you add the content yourself).

This lyric viewing feature is standard on any Apple player with a screen (iPod/iPhone/iPad), but as I already had an Android phone and I didn’t feel like spending $100 or more just to buy an iPod, I was very excited to find this app.

On a related note, if you want a way to view these embedded lyrics within iTunes while you’re listening on your computer, I recommend Cover Version


I use this at work so I can listen to Mandarin podcasts while I’m working and quickly refer to the text of an audio without having to break away from what I’m doing.

If you have any questions about how to install or use either of these tools, please drop me a line. Happy learning!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Listening from different ‘angles’ to raise your awareness « Mandarin From Scratch
  2. iaing
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 01:56:30

    Chinesepod has all the lyrics (characters, pinyin and english) already in the mp3 file. All you need is a mp3 player that displays lyrics (windows media player can even do this with free add ons).


  3. mandarinfromscratch
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 02:03:05

    You’re correct iaing, ChinesePOD does embed the characters, pinyin, and English, but unfortunately only if you’re a paying customer anymore, as far as I know. I downloaded a few of their samples from the iTunes store just to see and they only had the characters. I always end up modifying the embedded lyrics anyway because I like to add the vocabulary lists to the end to add another level to my listening.


  4. Luke
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 12:19:07

    There is a feature request to add lyrics display to the native Android music player. Please vote for it, by clicking on the star here.


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