So you want to learn Chinese.
And you might even be watching Chinese TV shows.
Well, there’s one more thing you should be checking out: YouTube.
A quick Google search will turn up a plethora of videos, but don’t you worry about that. I’ve done the hard work for you and selected 12 channels that can quickly help you achieve your Chinese language learning goals.
They are aimed at the beginner and/or intermediate level speaker. The teaching styles, content and formats vary, but they all offer digestible lessons that are easy to take in. The videos feature grammar, pronunciations, words and phrases, and video clips of different activities. The shortest lessons are only a few seconds in duration while the longest are around 14 minutes.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Learn Mandarin Chinese with 12 Viral YouTube Channels
Yangyang Cheng, the founder and host of Yoyo Chinese, resides in Los Angeles but is originally from Beijing. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, Yangyang was previously a bilingual host of a popular Chinese show and an adjunct professor. Yangyang clearly knows her stuff and has an excellent presence on camera. Yoyo Chinese’s slogan is “Chinese taught in plain English,” and their videos cover vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and culture. There’s a lot of great content on this channel, including the unique “Interviews with Chinese Locals” and recordings of live Google Plus Hangouts with Yangyang.
In fact, you can find a number of Yoyo Chinese’s videos on FluentU!
Fiona is half British and half Taiwanese, and is fluent in three languages. Her video lessons are very bubbly and she takes several approaches. In some lessons the language is broken down phonetically, while in others there are subtitles as she speaks or simple graphics to accompany her presentation. The lessons are a very good introduction to the language.
Peggy Lee is from Taiwan and her lessons are lively and entertaining. She has a great presence on camera and gives you little glimpses into her life as she teaches. Each short lesson is focused on a different activity or event such as Halloween, going to the beach, hiking and buying tickets. For most of the time Peggy is in vision either looking straight into the camera are getting involved in the action. She speaks in both Chinese and English with subtitles in both languages. Some of the video lessons are for beginners and others for intermediate Chinese language speakers.
Emma produces some very professional videos and makes good use of images and moving footage that help to make the lessons a compelling view. Aimed primarily at the beginner and advanced beginner, Emma focuses the language learning on many different activities and aspects of life. These include greetings, the seasons of the year, naming of body parts and emotions. Most of the videos are conducted in English, and when Chinese is spoken it is accompanied by large subtitles in Chinese and English. The average lesson duration is about five minutes.
They say variety is the spice of life, and here’s a channel that loves to mix it up a bit with a number of different formats that’ll keep you on your toes.
“Learn Chinese Holidays” has a bubbly presenter who speaking in Chinese with Chinese and English subtitles. Behind her, various graphics are presented including pictures and vocabulary. Each lesson also includes a short interactive quiz and a fun fact.
“Learn Chinese with Pictures” presents a series of images with the Chinese and English word or words that explain what is going on in the picture. You will also hear how the words are pronounced. The lessons include a test where you are presented with the picture you have seen minus the words which you have to guess. The answers are then revealed.
“Learn Chinese with Pictures and Video” presents the viewer with a series of pictures and the Chinese word most associated with what is being seen. This is followed by a short video of the activity. There are no English translations, but it’s fairly clear from the pictures and videos what the words mean. All of the videos are short, with most of them coming in under three minutes.
This is another channel that’s a bit of a mixed bag, but believe me, that’s not a bad thing. Joanc22 is a fun channel that has curated Chinese language video lessons from a variety of sources. There are cartoons, live action sequences and even film clips. Primarily aimed at the beginner and advanced beginner the topics include “At the Restaurant,” “Shopping,” and “Plan to go to Hong Kong”. This is an eclectic mix of lessons that’s not arranged in any particular order. To make the most of the channel, dip into it every now and again, rather than trying to use it as a regular part of your learning.
Okay, so the title is a take on the popular Tom Cruise film series, but at first look Mandarin Impossible may not be the best name for a set of language lessons. Don’t click away, as these well produced and presented videos demonstrate that it is possible to master the basics in no time at all.
The lessons are aimed at the student who’s never studied Mandarin Chinese before and they give a good grounding in fundamentals such as personal pronouns, how to introduce yourself, numbers and Chinese tones. The longer lessons (10 minutes) are broken up into sections, and in some videos you will be asked to speak out loud. A characteristic of Mandarin Impossible is the very good use of graphics that feature pictures, Chinese characters and English and Chinese words. And fortunately, the lessons don’t self-destruct once you’ve finished with them.
Chinese Corner is another YouTube channel that has collected video lessons from elsewhere on the net. This includes “Real Chinese” a 10-part series that was first broadcast on the BBC Learning Zone. Some of the videos are aimed squarely at the novice while others are for those at an intermediate or advanced level. One of the video collections is “Happy Chinese”, an entertaining Chinese TV series in both English and Chinese that is a mixture of situation comedy and cartoons. English and Chinese subtitles are present throughout allowing the student to follow more closely what is being said.
Miss Panda has extensive training and experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to children. Although her videos – mostly of children’s songs and stories – are made for a younger audience, they can certainly be used by Chinese learners of any age. The videos often feature a class of young children with Miss Panda leading them in a song, and with subtitles in both English and Mandarin Chinese on screen. She has more resources for young Chinese learners on her Miss Panda Chinese website.
Aimed at the beginner, Benny’s confident and attention-grabbing style of presentation hooks you from the start.
There are only 11 lessons on this channel, but they are well worth taking a look at. These simply produced videos for the Chinese language novice cover basics like beginners’ survival phrases, hotel vocabulary, counting numbers and intonation. Wailai is in vision throughout and presents in English. When she speaks in Chinese her words are accompanied by graphics of the English words, Chinese words and their characters. These absorbing lessons are well presented and last for about five minutes on average.
There’s never a dull moment with these fun lessons. Mike has a great sense of humor and uses it to good effect. Most of the videos are between 10 and 15 minutes in duration but they move at a quick but comfortable pace.
By watching instructional videos from these valuable and free YouTube channels, you can easily start learning Chinese today! With persistence and hard work, you’ll be well on your way to join the billion Chinese speakers on the planet. Good luck!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.