They’re as romantic as an evening in Paris.
They’re as dramatic as your favorite Oscar winners.
And best of all, they pack as much Chinese practice as your usual study sesh.
Taiwanese dramas are no different.
Taiwanese dramas (also called TDrama or TWDrama) are popular Chinese-language TV shows made in Taiwan.
The term “drama” is used broadly. While many shows have a strong romantic theme, the exact focus of each show can vary wildly, including comedy, crime, doctor drama and more.
If you want to fine-tune your Chinese listening skills the fun way, there’s nothing quite like Taiwanese dramas to binge-watch your way towards fluency. Here’s why.
Why Watch Taiwanese Dramas?
- Taiwanese dramas typically use Mandarin Chinese. This makes them appropriate for Chinese learners. Some shows are in Taiwanese Hokkien or include a few words in this language, so you may also get a little regionally-specific vocabulary tossed in for good measure.
- Watching Taiwanese dramas will expose you to another accent. The Mandarin in Taiwanese dramas is standard for the most part, but it’s somewhat accented. If you’re learning Chinese, it’s good to familiarize yourself with an array of accents. Over one billion people speak Mandarin Chinese, and not everyone will have the same accent. Practicing listening to a different accent, like Taiwanese, will help prepare you for understanding many different types of spoken Chinese.
- They offer plenty of material. There are a lot of great Taiwanese shows out there. Most only last for one or two seasons, so they’re not too intimidating. However, they also frequently have around 20 episodes each, so if you find a show you like, you still have plenty to watch. You can find Taiwanese dramas on Netflix, buy DVDs from Amazon or even stream for free from websites like Viki TV.
- They’re popular internationally. Taiwanese dramas are exported throughout Asia, including China, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. Not only does this show that they’re popular, it also means that you might be able to find fellow fans wherever you travel.
- They’re engaging and fun! Watching TV is inherently fun, and since Taiwanese dramas have engaging plots, you’ll be at the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next. The more you watch, the better your listening skills will get, so Taiwanese dramas might be the best thing you ever binged.
But if you love engaging activities, don’t let the fun stop with Taiwanese dramas! Try FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. With FluentU, you won’t ever have to worry that you’re in over your head. That’s because each FluentU video has annotated captions, giving you easy access to any word’s definition, example sentences and associated images. Plus, if you click a word, you can see it in other videos.
Looking for a different engaging activity? Try FluentU’s “learn mode.” This mode incorporates videos, pictures and examples sentences into flashcards and exercises for a unique and captivating learning experience. Try FluentU online or download the app from the iTunes or the Google Play store.
Now that you’re thoroughly excited to learn the dramatic way, here are six of the best Taiwanese dramas for Chinese learners!
The 6 Best Taiwanese Dramas for Dramatically Better Chinese Listening Skills
愛上兩個我 (ài shàng liǎng gè wǒ) | “Fall in Love with Me”
Mistaken identity, a business desperate to succeed and, of course, romance…”Fall in Love with Me” has it all.
This 2014 drama features young advertising hotshot Lu Tian Xing. While in disguise, he meets Tao Le Si, a young woman trying to preserve her late brother’s advertising agency. Obviously, romance ensues, but the path to true love is never simple: Lu Tian Xing’s company is trying to take over Tao Le Si’s company. Can love still flourish?
The show’s vocabulary is mostly conversational and everyday, but due to the business element of the show, you’ll also get a fair amount of vocabulary related to business and advertising.
小資女孩向前衝 (xiǎo zī nǚ hái xiàng qián chōng) | “Office Girls”
It’s time for Qin Zi Qi to learn how normal people live.
His father runs Jing Shi Department Store and has tasked Qin Zi Qi with working a low-level job to prove himself. For one year, he must live like a normal person and hide who he really is. Needless to say, romance ensues. As always.
This 2011 series will give you a healthy dose of general vocabulary along with shopping and fashion terms. You may also hear differences in the types of language used by people from different backgrounds.
下一站，幸福 (xià yī zhàn , xìng fú) | “Autumn’s Concerto”
The course of true love never did run smooth, especially in TDrama.
In “Autumn’s Concerto,” a law student falls for a young woman, who has played the piano for him regularly. However, his mother doesn’t approve of the relationship. When the young man has surgery to remove a brain tumor, he loses his memory, never knowing that his true love is pregnant.
Six years pass, and fate brings the two lovers back together in a rural village where the young woman now lives with their son.
The language used is mostly conversational, but there are some courtroom scenes and music-related content, so you’ll also hear some vocabulary related to these themes.
莫非，這就是愛情 (mò fēi , zhè jiù shì ài qíng) | “Murphy’s Law of Love”
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That’s Murphy’s law, and it’s hit Guan Xiao-tong hard.
After getting her heart broken, she begins to work as a matchmaker. She happens to meet divorce attorney Ji Jia-wei, whose heart was also broken, and the two immediately clash. But when Ji Jia-wei’s employees jokingly sign him up for the matchmaking service and he becomes very popular, Guan Xiao-tong must play nice.
Since this 2015 drama is a romantic show and both main characters work in relationship-related fields, expect an exceptionally high amount of words and terms related to romance and relationships.
愛上哥們 (ài shàng gē mén) | “Bromance”
A fortune teller sealed Pi Ya Nuo’s fate early.
In this 2015 drama, Pi Ya Nuo has been raised as a boy after a fortune teller predicted she would only survive if she lived as a boy for her first 25 years. After inadvertently helping a triad leader, she becomes his best friend, while the leader’s sister falls in love with her, not knowing her true gender.
Now, Pi Ya Nuo is about to turn 26 and can finally live as a female. But how will that go?
“Bromance” uses some gang-related terms and plenty of slang. There’s also a significant focus on family and familial relationships as well as friendship, later delving into many different conflicts for a huge variety of vocabulary. Of course, gender also plays a strong role in this one!
他們在畢業的前一天爆炸 (tā mén zài bì yè de qián yī tiān bào zhà) | “Days We Stared at the Sun”
Corruption breeds contempt in this drama.
Chen Hao Yuan is a good student. With his trouble-making best friend, he helps classmates, exposes secrets and more. But ultimately, when the two discover corruption, things get violent.
“Days We Stared at the Sun” offers two brief seasons, so it won’t be too overwhelming to jump into.
Since the protagonists are young, you’ll find plenty of school-related vocabulary. On the other hand, the content gets pretty dark very quickly and you can also expect many discussions about life, responsibility and some serious real-world issues.
Don’t save the TDrama for your mama! Dive into these six terrific Taiwanese dramas and enjoy dramatically better Chinese listening skills!
And One More Thing…
Since you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously serious about learning Chinese.
FluentU can help.
FluentU lets you learn real Chinese from dramas, TV shows, commercials, music videos and more. It naturally eases you into learning Chinese language, and you’ll learn Chinese as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos, as you can see here:
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how they’re used. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.
From the description page, you can access interactive transcripts under the Dialogue tab, or review words and phrases under Vocab.
FluentU’s Quiz Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It suggests content and examples based on the words you’re learning. You have a 100% personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.