Three Chinese TV Shows to Improve Your Child’s Mandarin

Living in Beijing, it’s not hard to find ways to practice your Mandarin, especially as a beginner; restaurants, supermarkets, shops, taxis, your localjianbing stand, and even passers-by in the park can make for excellent ways to hone your speaking and listening skills. Once you’ve mastered your “taxi Chinese,” however, finding learning resources appropriate to your skill level becomes a bit more challenging.

Thankfully, the Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Chinese teachers are here to help! Year 3 Learning Community Chinese teacher Lunar Hu, in lieu of recommending Chinese textbooks to plow through, offers the much more appetizing prospect of improving Mandarin through Chinese language TV shows. Below, she recommends three well-known Chinese shows perfect for Secondary School learners looking for new Mandarin learning resources and inspiration.


You can find all of Lunar’s suggestions on Youtube or the CCTV website itself for those without a VPN (copy and paste is your friend if your Chinese typing isn’t up to snuff).

The Recommendations


快乐汉语 (Happy Chinese): This show is a gameshow-style educational programme with each episode featuring a different theme based on a Chinese character. Two teams of non-native Chinese speakers, aka foreigners, compete in a variety of entertaining games punctuated by Chinese culture and language lessons taught by a panel of teachers. The educational value is obvious in this one; students will learn a lot about Chinese culture and language.

外国人在中国 (Foreigners in China): This show will probably be more interesting to Secondary School kids as the topics the show covers are a bit more formal. The show follows foreigners who’ve lived in China for a long period of time and discusses with them their lives and experiences in China as well as how they view the country. It’s a great way for older kids who’ve been in China for a long time with their parents to find some similarities in their experiences, or even gain some inspiration for their own Chinese studies seeing how fluent the featured guests’ Chinese is!


舌尖上的中国 (Bite of China): This show is quite famous already around the world, maybe you’ve already seen it! This is best for relatively advanced learners as there’s a lot of new vocabulary, but it’s also just a very well-produced programme, with plenty of beautiful shots of China and Chinese food. This is probably worth watching even if you’re not that interested in learning Chinese!

Benefits to Student Learning


First of all, it makes them more interested in Chinese learning through a new channel of learning. Even if they don’t entirely understand everything, it’s an interesting and different way of learning that will hopefully inspire them to pursue their Chinese studies with renewed vigor.

For Happy Chinese and Foreigners in China, seeing how well other foreigners can speak Chinese is a good way of igniting the competitive spirit in some students. Seeing how well other non-native speakers have learned the language can encourage students who are struggling and motivate students who are already excelling, showing them that there is always a higher level they can reach.

Finally, exposing learners to a large amount of new words regularly is an effective means of subconscious teaching. By watching shows and listening to new content regularly, even if learners don’t understand 100%, a lot of the words and phrases they hear (and read on the screen in the subtitles) will be absorbed and unlocked in the future. There are many great examples of this in the YCIS Beijing Primary School section, where we teach kids a lot of songs, poems, and stories. We’ve found that even if students don’t understand things like vocabulary or analogies in stories when they learn them, over time they are able to discover their meaning and use them effectively in short essays or homework assignments, even though they never looked them up explicitly in a dictionary!

Visit our Chinese Language and Culture Programme page to learn more about what makes the programme so special!

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