learn-chinese-cartoons

11 Chinese Cartoon TV Shows for Learners of All Ages

It’s no secret that kids can pick up languages more quickly than adults. But how can we bridge the learning gap between the two? 

Well, you can learn through Chinese cartoons!

Watching Chinese cartoons is a great way to learn Mandarin, either by yourself or with a kid—especially if you’re a beginner.

So let’s look at 11 Chinese cartoons that are entertaining for Mandarin learners of all ages.

Contents

1. “Ni Hao, Kai-lan” (你好, 凯兰)

Pinyin: nǐ hǎo, kǎi lán

If you grew up in the US or Canada, you might remember this 2009 series from cable television. “Ni Hao Kai-lan” is often described as the Chinese “Dora the Explorer.” The show follows Kai-lan, a young Chinese girl who goes on adventures with her animal friends.

The episodes are lesson-based and aim to engage the viewer in answering questions and learning Mandarin. For the most part, spoken Mandarin is taught in addition to trivia about Chinese culture.

“Ni Hao Kai-lan” is entertaining enough that adults can enjoy it just as much as children, making it a great show to watch with your little one if you’re learning Chinese together. The learning level is low beginner, so those who know zero Chinese will definitely learn a lot from this show.

2. “Our Friend Remy Bear” (我们的朋友熊小米)

Pinyin: wǒ men de péng yǒu xióng xiǎo mǐ

Remy (or Rammie) Bear is a panda who shares funny, cute tidbits about his friends and their happy lives. This is a super uplifting show, whether you’re a kid or adult.

“Our Friend Remy Bear” uses storytelling to teach children about social skills and kindness while also teaching Chinese.

Because fluent Mandarin is spoken, this may be a little difficult for just anyone to watch and enjoy. It’s well-suited for learners aged six and up, or for adults who already know a little Chinese. You may be able to find more episodes on YouTube.

3. “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” (喜羊羊与灰太狼)

Pinyin: xǐ yáng yáng yǔ huī tài láng

This is a classic straight from CCTV in China! “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” aired in 2005, but it’s still great to watch and relevant enough to enjoy today. Adults and children can enjoy it together as there’s quite a bit of hidden adult humor.

In this Chinese cartoon, a group of lambs and sheep live in harmony until Gray Wolf and his wife move in. This could be considered a comedy and slice-of-life show rolled up into one that’s palatable for both children and adults.

Episodes are available on Youku, with only Chinese subtitles. Though the demographic is ages four through six, it would be best if the viewer had a couple of years of Chinese language experience to be able to catch on. This show is helpful for spoken association with hanzi, as well as listening skills.

4. “Super Wings!” (超级飞侠)

Pinyin: chāo jí fēi xiá

“Super Wings!” is a bit different than other shows we’ve covered. It was co-produced by South Korean, Chinese and American production companies.

It’s been dubbed in a ton of languages, the original being Mandarin Chinese. This is definitely reflected in the show, as there are lots of episodes that take place in China and discuss Chinese culture.

“Super Wings!” is pretty much “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” without the horrifying, uncannily human-faced airplanes. This show is more cartoony—more like an educational “Transformers.” It notably seeks to teach kids about cultural diversity, tolerance and empathy.

5. “Journey to the West: Legends of the Monkey King” (西游记)

Pinyin: xī yóu jì

This children’s television show from the turn of the millennium is based on the Chinese legend of the Monkey King.

Regarded as a classic of Chinese animation, this cartoon follows the magically-birthed Monkey King and his incredible, mystical journey from China to India.

In addition to the CCTV link above, you can likely find some episodes of “Journey to the West: Legends of the Monkey King” on YouTube. If you’re already an intermediate or advanced learner, not using subtitles will help improve your Chinese listening skills.

6. “The Legend of Huainanzi” (淮南子传奇)

Pinyin: huái nán zi chuán qí

This Chinese cartoon may be more appropriate for older children and adults, as there are some minor adult themes.

“The Legend of Huainanzi” follows the story of Hong Lie, a young hero who takes on the task of finding missing pieces of an occult book that could save the world from supernatural disasters.

The art style is very similar to anime. The show is available on CCTV at the link above in Chinese, with simultaneous English and Chinese subtitles. All learners can benefit from watching this show, as long as they’re comfortable with the adult themes.

7. “Pororo the Little Penguin” (小企鹅宝露露)

Pinyin: xiǎo qì é bǎo lù lù

This cute, computer-animated show is the product of a collaboration between South Korean and Chinese production companies.

The show revolves around the fun adventures of a cute penguin named Pororo and his animal friends. Each episode ends in a practical or moral lesson.

You will need an Oznoz subscription ($9.99 a month) to watch “Pororo the Little Penguin” episodes. It’s available in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English, plus subtitles.

8. “The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa” (福娃奥运漫游记)

Pinyin: fú wá ào yùn màn yóu jì

This oldie but goodie has been around since 2007, right when the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was announced. The cartoon follows the adventures of the little humanoid creatures that served as the Olympic mascots, known as the Fuwa.

Episodes of “The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa” are available on YouTube with Chinese audio. High-resolution versions are hard to find online. However, for those traveling abroad, you can look for reruns of the show on China Beijing TV Station, NHK and Kaku TV.

If you’re dead set on accessing higher-quality versions of this show where you’re at, you can always access those channels by purchasing a VPN.

9. “The Adventures of Little Carp” (小鲤鱼历险记)

Pinyin: xiǎo lǐ yú lì xiǎn jì

What’s cuter than a cartoon about a little fish? (I mean, come on, “Finding Nemo”—need I say more?)

“The Adventures of Little Carp” is based on an old Chinese folktale. Bubbles, the little carp, must find the ancient Dragon King to save his grandmother and stop an evil snake from taking over the lake.

This series is simple enough and relatively slow-paced, so beginners may be able to understand some of it without subtitles. The show is available for streaming via CCTV with Chinese audio and subtitles. If you’re traveling abroad, you can also enjoy reruns of “The Adventures of Little Carp” on CCTV-Children in China.

10. “GG Bond” (猪猪侠)

Pinyin: zhū zhū xiá

This computer-animated cartoon from China follows the story of GG Bond, a sassy pig with supernatural powers. Most of the episodes are comedies for children, though adult jokes do occasionally pop up.

Children and adults will definitely enjoy watching this one together. You can view episodes of “GG Bond” via the link above or the show’s official YouTube channel where new episodes are broadcast live every week.

You may not always have available subtitles for this Mandarin-language show, so intermediate and advanced learners would probably benefit the most from watching.

11. “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” (魔道祖师)

Pinyin: mó dào zǔ shī

Also known as “Mo Dao Zu Shi” or “MDZS,” this anime-style cartoon from China may be better suited for older viewers, as it does contain some violent imagery.

This fantasy series takes place in an ambiguous time period in China in which humans are attempting to become immortal through magic—and other means.

“Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” is available at the link above with English subtitles. The dialogue is quite heavy, so intermediate learners may benefit the most from watching.

How to Learn with Chinese Cartoons

Here are some benefits of learning Mandarin with Chinese cartoons:

  • While not all of these shows are bilingual, the ones that are can be very helpful for newbie Chinese learners, both children and adults. Some of the bilingual shows here provide accessible mini-lessons within each episode to make learning the language more fun.
  • In the purely Chinese shows, the spoken Mandarin is often slow and easy enough for beginners to follow. Because most of these shows are designed with kids in mind, the Mandarin Chinese dialogue is perfect for beginner learners of any age.
  • Many Chinese cartoon TV shows provide insight into Chinese culture that’s vital for all levels of Chinese learners. After all, understanding the culture in which Mandarin is spoken is also very important for learning the language.

Does the idea of watching a full half-hour (or more) of a Chinese TV show intimidate you? That’s a lot of Chinese to take in at once, especially for beginners! If you want to start small with cartoons, you can start by watching videos on FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Even though many of these shows are geared toward children, adults can definitely find them useful and even entertaining when learning Chinese.

There’s no harm in having a bit of fun while learning a new language!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

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 a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn 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 customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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