I have a secret to share with you.
It’s embarrassing, but I want the best for our readers.
It’s how I broke through Chinese learning plateaus.
What’s my secret? Hours upon hours of Chinese dating shows and the Chinese version of “Sex and the City.”
My point? Not that you should watch those shows, but that you should consider learning Chinese with authentic video content. Here are 5 reasons why.
5 reasons to learn Chinese through authentic video content
1) Videos are fun
The biggest challenge while learning Chinese is motivating yourself to continue – through tones, Chinese characters, and countless embarrassing moments.
Do yourself a favor and make it fun. Videos are natural for this. The beauty of learning Chinese is that what was once just a guilty pleasure can be highly productive as well. Let yourself get addicted to TV shows, movies, and music videos and your Chinese will improve as a convenient by-product.
2) Videos engage your senses and make words memorable
The old saying goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
And we all know that as much as 93% of communication is non-verbal.
And did you know memory champions can memorize entire phone books?
What’s their secret?
They convert non-visual information into images.
The moral of the story: don’t limit yourself – video is a higher bandwidth medium that can brand words in your memory.
3) Videos show you Chinese culture
There was a point in my Chinese learning where I realized that I was fluent but still unable to communicate.
I would join in conversations with Chinese friends and understand every word they were saying.
But I still didn’t know what they were talking about and couldn’t contribute anything.
In other words, I knew Chinese language but not Chinese culture, and you need to know both in order to really communicate.
So much of culture is captured in video – don’t let yourself be culturally illiterate!
4) Videos are cheap
Learning Chinese is a lifelong endeavor (学无止境 – “studying never ends” – xué wú zhǐ jìng).
So if you’re always paying for a tutor, that can end up being pricey.
Nowadays, Chinese videos are basically free (eg. Youku, Tudou, and Youtube).
5) Videos are convenient
You can watch videos basically anywhere and anytime.
If you want to review a line, or skip forward, you click your mouse.
Classroom settings have many advantages, but this isn’t one of them.
You may be thinking that this is a one-sided discussion of the benefits of video.
I agree – learning Chinese through videos has many advantages, but it’s still an imperfect experience. Some of the frustrations:
- Where do you start? How do you know what to watch amidst an ocean of content?
- Looking things up in a dictionary is surprisingly difficult and time consuming, especially for a beginner.
- Rewinding, repeating, and fast forwarding can be a pain.
- Writing stuff down in your notebook is labor intensive and a poor way to learn vocabulary.
This is where FluentU comes in.
FluentU will take the advantages of video, and smooth out the rough edges. The result will be a new fun way to learn Chinese through TV, movie clips, and other videos.
In the meantime, here are some shows that we recommend:
- 非诚勿扰 (fēi chéng wù rǎo) – China’s top dating show
- 好想好想谈恋爱 (hǎo xiǎng hǎo xiǎng tán liàn ài) – Chinese version of “Sex and the City”
- 男人帮 (nán rén bāng) – Chinese version of “Sex and the City,” except with guys
- 蜗居 (wō jū) – a popular drama that was censored in China!
- 裸婚时代 (luǒ hūn shí dài) – Naked Wedding (refers to trend of young Chinese people forgoing all the expensive trappings needed for Chinese weddings traditionally)
Like this post? Check out our other Chinese learning tips!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.