5 Top Tips: Watch TV and Learn Chinese (2020-2021)

Your Guide to Help You Learn Chinese with TV Shows

  • Are you looking for a fun way to learn Chinese and not sure how to go about it? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
  • Chinese TV shows are a great resource to develop your Chinese skills and extend your vocabulary .
  • Here are 5 top tips that can help you learn Chinese while watching TV programs!

Learn Chinese with TV shows: Watch With Chinese Subtitles

Learn Chinese with TV shows : Watch Actively

Learn Chinese with TV shows: Create a Vocabulary Book (Flashcards)

Learn Chinese with TV shows: Watch TV Shows Appropriate to Your Chinese Level 

Learn Chinese with TV shows: Learn the Right Words

Learn Chinese with TV shows: Quick Tips

Learn Chinese with TV shows: FAQ’s

Can you really watch TV and Learn a Language? Yes… here’s how!

Watch With Chinese Subtitles

The best way to challenge yourself is to watch the TV shows with no English subtitles.

Though this might sound difficult and daunting, if you pick the right show according to your language proficiency it will help you learn more Chinese.


What you might find is that if you watch the show with just English subtitles, it is very easy to get into the habit of only reading the subtitles and not actually learning.

A great way to begin is to watch a show with English and Chinese subtitles.

If you’re watching Chinese TV on Netflix, language learning with Netflix or LLN (for short) is the ideal tool which can be downloaded.

LLN is an Google chrome extension that allows passionate language learners to learn new vocabulary and break down the sentences whilst watching a favourite movie or TV series on Netflix.

Alternatively, if you want to watch Chinese TV on other platforms such as Youtube, Rakuten ViKi and Asian Crush, and cannot watch it together with English subtitles.

Don’t worry!

Have a go at watching with Chinese subtitles as it is fun and it is an exciting learning challenge!

12 of the Best Resources to Learn Chinese | Our Complete List Thumbnail

12 of the Best Resources to Learn Chinese | Our Complete List

We are lucky enough to have access to more resources than ever before and it’s all at our fingertips but what are the best resources to learn Chinese?

Watch Actively

The best way to learn Chinese with TV shows is to actively watch!


For instance, turn off social media and dedicate about an hour or less in your day to watch the show intensively.

What I would advise is to play the episode until you find a word that you do not recognize, pause and look and if you still have trouble recognizing it, I would recommend looking it up on Pleco!

It might be super annoying pausing and starting the show.

However, remember to bear in mind you are doing this for learning and not for pure enjoyment.

Create a Vocabulary Book (Flashcards)

After searching the word or two up on Pleco, the best way not to forget your new words is to create a vocabulary list.

The easiest way to do this, is to create flashcards on Quizlet or by simply writing them down.

Remember to write down the Pinyin and English Translation!

The key is not to over-do it! The most efficient way to avoid this, is to set yourself a goal.

For instance, perhaps with every episode you try to learn 20 new words or so.


Above all, enjoy the show and don’t drown yourself in extra work that might discourage you from learning Chinese with TV.

After you’ve completed your flashcards, it also might be worth reviewing and memorizing them.

With Quizlet, you can automatically create a quick test or alternatively you can test yourself.

What also might be a good method is to write down how to use the new words in an example sentence.

This might be particularly helpful if you can see yourself using the word in the future and is useful to incorporate into daily speaking.

If you are not sure of how to use the new word, don’t worry! Look it up on Pleco as they give example sentences or copy the way the Chinese TV uses the word.

It’s best to remember key vocabulary that you can relate and learn from.

Watch TV Shows Appropriate to Your Chinese Level   

The best way to learn Chinese with TV, is to select a TV show series or movie appropriate to your level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Beginners Level: Chinese Cartoons (Youtube have lots)
    • Peppa Pig (小猪佩奇: xiǎo zhū pèi qí)
    • Journey to the West (西游记: xīyóu jì)
    • Dad where are we going (爸爸去哪儿: bàba qù nǎ’er)
  • Intermediate level: Romantic comedies (Lots on Netflix)
    • ‘A Love so Beautiful’ (致我们单纯的小美好: zhì wǒmen dānchún de xiǎo měihǎo)
    • ‘Meteor Garden’ (流星花园: liú xīng huā yuán)
    • Ode to Joy’ (欢乐颂:huānlè sòng)
  • Advanced level: Historical dramas (On YouTube)
    • ‘Yongzheng Dynasty’ (雍正王朝: yōngzhèng wángcháo)
    • ‘Nirvana in Fire (琅琊榜: lángyá bǎng)
    • Yanxi Palace (延禧攻略: yán xǐ gōnglüè)

In need of more…check out our quick guide to find out the best ways to watch Chinese Movies and TV series Online…

Learn the Right Words

Learn the right words. One of the hurdles of learning Chinese with TV is finding the right words to learn.

For example, if you decide to watch a murder mystery programme this might not be super-helpful towards your learning.

As such, you might find that you are learning words such as manslaughter that hopefully you will not be using in the future.

Likewise, if you decide to watch a medical TV series you might find that you learn the word for cardiac arrest or stroke. This again might not be super helpful towards your learning process.

As a first step towards this new learning process, it is best to learn words that you find best relate to daily life.

For example, by watching the TV comedy series on Youtube ‘Home with Kids (家有儿女) (jiā yǒu érnǚ).

I’ve found myself learning useful idioms such as

  • 不可思议 (Unthinkable: bù kě sī yì)
  • 长话短说 (Make a long story short: cháng huà duǎns huō)

and also useful words like:

  • 胡说 (Talk rubbish: hú shuō)
  • 傻帽 (Fool: shǎ mào) always handy if you get into an argument with someone

Quick Tip…

Remember don’t drive yourself crazy!

Watching TV in Chinese is a brilliant way to immerse yourself in the culture and to hear exactly how Mandarin Chinese is spoken by the locals and learn unique elements of the language like proverbs and idioms.

Also remember it is never too early to start, the more you watch the easier it will be to follow the program.

Even if you are a complete beginner, watching cartoons is a great way to listen to and absorb  the language.


How should I pick my program wisely?

Perhaps ask a Chinese friend, your teacher, or seek advice online how best to select a TV program suitable for your level.

You could also test yourself by doing a trial and error on a selection of shows.

Will my Chinese improve by learning Chinese with TV shows?

Absolutely yes! What might be good is to test your learning with some native speakers or with your teacher so you can see if you are improving.

If you would like to take your Chinese to the next level, it might be good to consider LTL options of a Chinese Online Tutor.

Can you actually watch TV and learn Chinese?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

In need of more suggestions, check out this YouTube video!

What are some popular Chinese Drama’s I can watch?

There are loads! Here are some favourites of ours:

Meteor Garden

Iron Ladies

Ode to Joy

Are there Chinese TV Movies available on Netflix?

Yes there are indeed, we’ve got a full list of Chinese TV Movies on Netflix here.

Where else can I watch Chinese TV?

Aside from Netflix and YouTube you can also check out YouKu and iQiyi which are known as the Chinese YouTube and Chinese Netflix.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list.

We give plenty of handy information on learning Chineseuseful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools! Sign up below and become part of our ever growing community!



Leave a Reply

You will get a reply from us
Your email address will not be published. Name and Email are required.

  1. Mark H.

    Thank you for these tips and for the recommend shows! This is a great blog for anyone struggling to find the best way on how to watch TV and learn Chinese at the same time.

  2. Chinese Cooking Shows (on Youtube) || Mouthwatering & Amazing

    […] If you want to get the most out of watching the shows you can take a look at this guide for how to learn Chinese through watching TV shows. […]