The 14 Best Taiwanese Dramas for Dramatically Better Chinese Listening Skills
It’s no secret that Chinese shows and Chinese dramas are great tools to help you flex your listening skills.
Taiwanese dramas (also called TDrama or TWDrama) are no different!
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 are 15 of the best Taiwanese dramas for Chinese learners!
- 1. 下一站，幸福 (Autumn’s Concerto)
- 2. 真愛趁現在 (Love, Now)
- 3. 極品絕配 (The Perfect Match)
- 4. 真愛找麻煩 (Inborn Pair)
- 5. 後菜鳥的燦爛時代 (Refresh Man)
- 6. 兩個爸爸 (Two Fathers)
- 7. 小資女孩向前衝 (Office Girls)
- 8. 命中注定我愛你 (Fated to Love You)
- 9. 海豚湾恋人 (At the Dolphin Bay)
- 10. 王子變青蛙 (The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog)
- 11. 原来是美男 (Fabulous Boys)
- 12. 摩登新人类 (New Modern People)
- 13. 蓝球火 (Hot Shot)
- 14. 翻糖花园 (Fondant Garden)
- Why Watch Taiwanese Dramas?
- Tips for Learning Chinese with Dramas
- And One More Thing...
1. 下一站，幸福 (Autumn’s Concerto)
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.
2. 真愛趁現在 (Love, Now)
Available: Netflix | Rakuten Viki
This story starts off with a workaholic being forced to take a vacation, after being tricked into believing she had terminal liver cancer.
When she finally reaches her destination, she seeks solace from a stranger. However, that stranger turns out to be someone she had met in the past, and someone who has been in love with her ever since.
Things are all fine and dandy until they both find out the truth about the prank.
The two main characters are workaholics, thus business Chinese is pretty common. Casual conversations also occur in and out of the business context.
3. 極品絕配 (The Perfect Match)
Available: Netflix | Rakuten Viki
Two worlds collide as fine dining clashes with night market eats in this palatable Taiwanese rom-com.
It all starts with the humble curry. Celebrity chef Huo Ting En elevates curry and turns it into his signature dish at his swanky restaurant.
Night street vendor Wei Fen Qing questions his perception of food, as she firmly believes that the price tag on ingredients doesn’t determine the overall taste of a dish.
With opposing views on cooking, a curry-off ensues and sparks a romance between the two culinary experts.
Given the premise of the show, the language follows the food theme in several culinary contexts. The vocabulary covers everything from street food to gourmet cuisine, kitchen elements to food critiquing.
4. 真愛找麻煩 (Inborn Pair)
Available: Netflix | Rakuten Viki
“Inborn Pair” follows the tale of two people that are in completely different stages of their lives.
Ke Wei Xiang is the president of a resort group, a successful businessman wishing for love. Meanwhile, Song Yi Jie is focused on her career and isn’t even thinking about marriage.
Little do they know that their cards have already been dealt, with their grandparents playing matchmaker before they were even born.
Despite their opposition to this ancient tradition and each other, the arranged marriage slowly begins to work its magic on the couple.
There’s a lot of marriage talk in this drama, with the discussion of old traditions in the modern world. Because the conversations are mostly about relationships, expect topics like affairs and mind games to come up.
5. 後菜鳥的燦爛時代 (Refresh Man)
Available: Rakuten Viki
Zhong Yu Tang was once the overachiever, receiving top grades in school and showing the most promise among all her classmates.
Ten years after graduation, she finds herself complacent in her job, but that job is suddenly threatened when her new boss turns out to be the slacker from school.
No longer the underachiever that she once knew, he pushes her out of her comfort zone and challenges her in unexpected ways.
As part of the PR department, Zhong Yu Tang mentions PR-related vocab here and there. The language is mostly business-themed, with client interactions, talks of moving up the ladder, office politics and so forth.
6. 兩個爸爸 (Two Fathers)
A woman gives birth to a baby girl, only to leave her with the two guys she slept with. With no confirmation on the true biological father, the two men decide to co-parent and unite as an unconventional family.
Even with two different parenting styles, as well as the constant speculation on their relationship and sexual orientation, the two fathers manage well with their daughter.
Since the focus is more on family rather than the fathers’ occupations, the language is perfect for beginners.
There’s a lot of chatting with the daughter, the daughter interacting with her teacher and fellow students, so this elementary school level Chinese is easy enough to follow along with.
7. 小資女孩向前衝 (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 that he’s a worthy successor. For one year, he must live and work like a normal person and hide who he really is.
While working in the department store, he meets Shen Xing Reng. Although they clash initially, they eventually realize that they have feelings for each other.
This 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.
8. 命中注定我愛你 (Fated to Love You)
Available: Netflix | Rakuten Viki
This title is sometimes also translated into English as “You’re My Destiny,” and is currently on Netflix under that name.
An eager-to-please office assistant at a law firm plans a romantic cruise with her boyfriend. During the cruise, she finds out that her boyfriend has cheated on her and that he was planning to break up with her.
Elsewhere on the ship, the rich heir of a company happens to be on the same cruise with plans to propose to his long-time girlfriend, but ends up being stood up by her.
After a night of drinking, the two of them wake up in the same bed. And so their lives become entangled in the consequences of this one night stand.
This is a rom-com style drama—hilarious and scandalous at once. It contains language concerning marriage, sex, romance and emotions that would be relevant to any Chinese language learner.
Note that there’s a Korean remake of this show by the same name. Be sure to look for the Taiwanese version!
9. 海豚湾恋人 (At the Dolphin Bay)
This is a show about star-crossed lovers who have to overcome hurdles and challenges to be together.
Two children, a boy and a girl, meet at an orphanage and become best friends. Before they become separated and adopted by different households, they make a promise that they’ll find each other again.
Years later, the woman is now a singer with a blossoming career due to her beautiful and pure voice. She crosses paths with the man, who unbeknownst to her, begins helping her behind the scenes.
It’s a typical rags-to-riches story, but the hardships of the female lead character will surely move you to tears.
There’s so much to learn from this series, from the motivational words about reaching your dreams to corporate lingo and Chinese culture.
10. 王子變青蛙 (The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog)
This drama tells the story of a rich, arrogant hotel CEO and his accidental encounter with a working class girl. Ye Tian Yu accidentally hits Shan Jun Hao with her car, causing him to get amnesia and forget who he is.
With his background and upbringing erased from his memory, Shan Jun Hao gets to know Ye Tian Yu without the impediments of class differences.
However, what will happen to their budding relationship when his family comes looking for him?
Speech is rather fast-paced in this drama and Ye Tian Yu’s family members all speak with a slight rural accent.
Advanced speakers will enjoy the variety of scenes that occur and the corresponding vocabulary—from business terminology to wedding proposals to medical and physical injury words, this drama covers them all.
11. 原来是美男 (Fabulous Boys)
Available: AsianCrush | YouTube
This is a story about a girl who dresses up as a man, which was quite the trend in Asian dramas a few years back.
Gao Mei Nu is a nun-in-training when she’s asked to stand in for twin brother in a popular band. She agrees, thinking that it will help them reunite with their long lost mother.
She has to disguise herself as a boy and keep her identity a secret, all while living together with the other bandmates.
The band’s leader, Huang Tai Ching, is not happy with her presence. Things get even more complicated when he discovers her secret.
If you’re interested in bands and the lives of idol groups, check this one out. You can learn a lot of vocabulary about music, fame and friendship. It’s a remake of the Korean drama, “You’re Beautiful.”
12. 摩登新人类 (New Modern People)
This drama follows eight young people as they move to a big city to try and follow their dreams while keeping their ideals intact.
The two main characters are Xia Hong Guo, a country girl who wants to become a fashion designer, and Xie Fei Fan who wanted to work as a pro bono lawyer for the underprivileged, but ended up in the fashion scene instead because of his father.
Paths overlap mostly in connection with the fashion industry. There are love triangles, work hurdles to overcome, challenges of becoming an adult and more.
If you’re interested in learning workplace vocabulary and corporate lingo then be sure to pick this one. It’s got the perfect balance of vocabulary concerning the fashion industry, romance and office politics.
13. 蓝球火 (Hot Shot)
This drama centers mainly on two basketball players, one experienced and one unexperienced.
Yuan Da Ying, has always loved basketball, but never had the chance the play because of his strict grandmother. After her death, he reads a note from her that he should pursue his basketball dream.
The other player is Dong Fang Xiang, the best basketball player alive, but who no longer wants to play.
They cross paths in a college with the worst basketball team in the country. The college team is revived with a new coach and the school’s sports history ends up getting rewritten.
This drama revolves around the youth’s passion for basketball and the lengths a person is willing to go just to fight for his basketball title and to win the love of his life. So there will lots of sports-related vocabulary for you to learn!
14. 翻糖花园 (Fondant Garden)
Zheng Mi En is a skilled pastry chef, but her friend and boss, Chen Ai Lin, often passes her creations off as her own. When Chen Ai Lin gets sent to South Korea for a baking competition, Zheng Mi En comes along as well.
In the meantime, Po Xi Huan, a Taiwanese-Korean, is the chosen successor of his father’s business, but is not interested. His Taiwanese cousin, Yan Han Xiang, would much rather take over the company.
Po Xi Huan is meant to marry the winner of the baking competition according to his father’s wishes. The paths of the four people end up crossing and romantic feelings make things complicated.
This series revolves around baking, from the measurements needed to perfect a cake to the management skills needed to save the bakeshop.
It’s the perfect series for those who are interested in learning language about food and the particulars in the kitchen. Since a lot of it takes places in South Korea, there’s a mix of spoken Korean and Chinese!
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.
- 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, but 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’ve ever binged.
- Watching Taiwanese dramas will expose you to another accent. If you’re learning Chinese, it’s good to familiarize yourself with an array of accents. The Mandarin in Taiwanese dramas is standard for the most part, but it’s somewhat accented. 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.
- They use slang words and unique expressions. This is one of the best things you’ll learn in Chinese dramas. There are just some things you can’t pick up in a book or class. You’ll get to understand their culture and unique expressions. You can even pick up a chengyu or two.
- They have subtitles. Reading Chinese while listening is one of the best ways to learn an unfamiliar character. It helps you retain the words better in your memory. Almost all Chinese dramas have subtitles (and some of these English subtitles if you need them!), so you can follow the dialogues while reading the characters.
Tips for Learning Chinese with Dramas
Before you get started, here are a few tips you have to keep in mind.
- Pick your favorite genre. The purpose of watching dramas is to inject bits of learning into your day without compromising your schedule. The only way to achieve this is to ensure you enjoy what you’re watching. There are so many genres to choose from – romance, comedy, family, office, politics and more.
- Follow the tones and sounds. Mandarin has a number of intonations you’ll have to keep in mind. It’ll be tricky the first time you hear them, so be sure to follow drama dialogues well. Take note of the characters in the subtitles in conjunction with how they’re pronounced by the characters. You’ll get used to making these connections over time.
- Take note of sentence structure. Follow the dialogues and observe the sentence structure. Take note of the way a character is used in one particular sentence versus another. There’s no single way to use a given character. You’ll be able to start conversing in Mandarin the proper way, not in broken sentences.
- Keep a notebook. Practice writing the characters rather than just hearing them or seeing them trail across a screen. Of course, there’s a certain correct order to the strokes in each word that’s difficult to ascertain merely from looking at it. But stroke order is really only important if you plan on learning to write in cursive in Chinese. Otherwise, producing the character itself is good enough.
- Pause and replay. If you didn’t hear a certain phrase or wanted to see how a particular word is written in the subtitles, the capacity to pause or rewind can help you out. You also have the freedom to take your time with an episode and to go at your own pace to digest and process what’s being said.
You can find more Taiwanese dramas on Netflix, Rakuten Viki, YouTube and more.
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You can watch drama scenes with interactive subtitles and even take quizzes to test what you’ve learned.
Your Chinese listening skills will improve in no time!
And One More Thing...
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