Learn Chinese on YouTube: 15 Binge-worthy Channels for Language Learning
YouTube offers nearly unlimited content, so there’s something to fit any need or preference.
Perhaps the biggest challenge you’ll face when learning Chinese on YouTube is navigating through the sea of great content.
But don’t get overwhelmed just yet! These 14 YouTube channels are great starting points as you embark on your journey to learn Chinese on YouTube.
- Why Learn Chinese on YouTube?
- How to Maximize Your Chinese Learning with YouTube
- Can You Learn Chinese in 60 Minutes with YouTube?
- 14 YouTube Channels for Chinese Language Learning
Why Learn Chinese on YouTube?
Learning Chinese with YouTube won’t break the bank! Unlike so many language education options, learning Chinese on YouTube is completely free, so there’s no financial risk involved. That’s hard to beat!
Because these YouTube videos are free, watching them is a perfect option for beginners looking to test the waters to see if they might be interested in continuing to study Chinese. YouTube is also a great resource for more experienced students looking to augment their existing knowledge and learning materials with a new resource—without spending more money.
Additionally, you’ll have nearly unlimited Chinese learning resources on YouTube. Whether you want conventional learning materials or hope to branch out with Chinese talk shows, Chinese movies or Chinese TV, you can find it all on YouTube. And because new material is added daily, it’s a self-replenishing resource. Even the most intrepid Chinese student won’t ever run out of material!
Plus, videos cover virtually every topic and skill. Whatever you feel like you need to work on, there’s probably a video that addresses your concern. Because of this, YouTube videos can act a lot like one-on-one tutoring, directly targeting your needs.
Watching Chinese YouTube videos is also engaging and easy to watch. They engage both your sight and hearing, so they’re more immersive than some study methods, making it easier to stay focused and interested.
How to Maximize Your Chinese Learning with YouTube
Subscribe to your favorite channels.
When you find a channel you like, subscribe to it so that you can find it again later.
For your favorite channels, hit the bell icon to be notified whenever new videos are posted. These notifications can act as helpful study reminders while ensuring you don’t miss any exciting new Chinese-learning content from your favorite YouTubers.
Watch organized channels to simulate conventional courses.
If you’re looking to learn Chinese step by step, organized YouTube channels or playlists can be convenient. Some channels and playlists offer step-by-step lessons, just like you’d expect to find in a conventional Chinese course.
If you don’t want to have to think about what you should study next, watching these videos in order can be an easy way to build your skills incrementally.
Look for videos on any subject you’re struggling with.
Struggling with listening? Unsure of how to pronounce a tricky word?
Whatever you’re struggling with, try to find videos on that topic. Because there are so many videos out there, you’ll likely be able to find a great resource that targets the specific issue you find challenging.
If that volume of content is overwhelming you, consider trying a virtual immersion program for a more focused approach. FluentU, for example, teaches Chinese using YouTube-sourced videos that demonstrate Chinese by showing native speakers using it in their own media.
FluentU’s videos can be searched by topic and difficulty level, and each video has interactive captions that let you read along in both English and Mandarin.
Watch YouTube Chinese-learning content often.
Studying frequently is the key to ensure that your Chinese skills continue to advance without backsliding. Luckily, YouTube makes it easy.
Videos vary in length, so you can squeeze in a video or two whenever you have a couple of minutes. Try to watch at least daily, but if you can watch a couple of times per day, even better!
Can You Learn Chinese in 60 Minutes with YouTube?
There are two different ways to answer this question.
According to the Foreign Service Institute, the number of class hours required to reach that level of proficiency averages at 2200 hours. So if we go by those numbers, you most likely won’t be fluent in Chinese with just one hour of study. But you probably already knew that.
The truth is that there’s a lot you can learn in 60 minutes on YouTube. In fact, the platform is full of videos that encourage you to make the most out of your time on the website, with clips covering all the language basics to get you speaking right away. Believe it or not, some lessons are as short as three minutes!
With that short period of time on YouTube, you do have to manage your expectations. You won’t learn everything in one hour, but you can learn enough to boost your confidence in your language skills. One hour is the perfect amount of time to work on pinyin pronunciation, tones and your accent!
Of course, what you learn in those 60 minutes is up to you. Just don’t try to squeeze everything in one hour. Rather, focus on one language skill (such as listening or speaking), or concentrate on one grammar structure with related vocabulary. If you attempt to work on all language skills along with grammar and vocabulary, you never really get to improve on any one area since your attention is divided among all parts. Remember, quality over quantity.
Now, let’s check out those Chinese YouTube channels that will help you achieve your language goals!
14 YouTube Channels for Chinese Language Learning
Mandarin HQ’s YouTube channel aims to help Chinese students learn about real spoken Chinese, not just the textbook variety they may already be familiar with.
The channel features a nice selection of useful videos, including on-the-street interviews, vocabulary videos, pronunciation lessons, conversational lessons, videos with learning strategies and videos shedding light on regional Mandarin accents. Videos range from a few seconds to a few minutes long.
One thing that really sets this option apart from the material you’ll learn from textbooks is the channel’s videos on slang. Each video focuses on a different slang word or phrase commonly used in Chinese. For instance, Chinese students might watch “Learn Chinese Slang #19 | ‘单身狗 dān shēn gǒu'” to learn slang used to refer to a single man or woman.
Learning Chinese may seem hard at first. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear from other people who have accomplished this feat. Luckily, Elementary Chinese approaches learning Chinese from the perspective of expats living in China, giving you valuable insight into learning the language from someone who’s been there and done that.
The Elementary Chinese YouTube channel features interviews with expats along with targeted learning material that shares tips, strategies, product reviews and vocabulary that you can use to learn Chinese and interact effectively should you ever go to China.
For instance, “Taxi Chinese – How To Use Alipay In China In a Taxi” not only shows how to use this payment method, it also features authentic, real-world interactions. Plus, key vocabulary appears on-screen for easy studying.
EverydayChinese – Learn Chinese in Chinatown
EverydayChinese aims to teach viewers authentic Chinese as it’s used in everyday life. The channel offers a number of types of videos to do this.
For students just starting out, the channel offers alphabet and pronunciation lessons. It also features a structured series of videos intended to give viewers a strong start in just 101 days.
For viewers who already have the basics down, the slow listening practice offered through the channel can help make native-level speech more approachable.
The channel also offers grammar and vocabulary lessons to help viewers advance their Chinese skills. You’ll also find useful videos on many topics like writing lessons, tips for everyday conversations, common phrases and more.
Are you a classroom junkie? If you can’t get enough classroom-style education, ChineseFor.Us is a great way to bring a traditional learning experience to the screen of your favorite device.
ChineseFor.Us aims to combine HSK levels used to test Chinese proficiency with instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Courses are carefully structured, so you don’t have to guess what to study next. Videos target beginning- through intermediate-level learners. They cover topics like vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversation.
“Chinese Story” videos are particularly useful, offering leveled listening practice based on specific themes. For instance, “Learn Chinese | Lower Intermediate Mandarin Conversation | HSK 2 Listening Practice IX.I” features a conversation about going to the airport. Because the video shows the dialogue on screen, it’s a very convenient way to practice listening with added support.
Anything and everything is easier to remember if it’s accompanied by a catchy tune. Not only that, music can make studying much more fun and reinvigorate your learning process!
So what’s a Chinese learner to do when they just want to listen to some tunes? Sure, you could listen to Chinese pop music, but if you’re looking for a more targeted learning experience, Chinese Buddy can hook you up.
Chinese Buddy features animated videos with songs to teach valuable Chinese language lessons. Each song covers a theme. The words and their translations appear on screen as the song plays, making it easy to follow along as you listen.
Videos cover a wide range of topics, but if you want to be positive and supportive of others, you could watch “Complimenting Others in Chinese 儿歌 (ér gē) | 赞美的话！(zàn měi de huà) (Re-Mastered),” which shares positive adjectives and supportive phrases.
Learn Chinese with Yi Zhao
Chinese teacher Yi Zhao offers up useful learning videos through her YouTube channel. The channel aims to offer well-explained, structured content that holds viewers’ interest.
Videos cover vocabulary, common phrases, travel phrases and grammar. Learn Chinese with Yi Zhao also posts some videos on-location that show real life in Shanghai while sharing vocabulary.
If you’re just starting out and want to follow an organized learning trajectory, you might start out with “Learn Chinese: Beginner Chinese Course – 25 Chinese Lessons in 3 Hours,” a three-hour introductory course that can provide important foundations to build your Chinese skills upon. The video covers common vocabulary, pronunciation and basic grammar.
Note: The most recent video was uploaded a couple of years ago, but all the video lessons are still relevant for beginners and intermediates.
Run by an experienced Mandarin teacher from Taiwan, Smart Mandarin aims to upload a Mandarin lesson weekly. In reality, videos are usually uploaded every couple of days, so you’ll have plenty of content to fill your next study session.
Videos cover topics appropriate for beginning- through intermediate-level learners, including pronunciation, characters, vocabulary and study strategies. Many videos cover useful, relevant themes you’ll likely need to be familiar with if you ever travel to China.
For instance, “Where’s the Bathroom in Mandarin Chinese” could save you a lot of embarrassment on your next trip. This video shares several different related phrases to help you find the nearest bathroom. The phrases also appear on the screen for easy studying, and the speaker says them very slowly and clearly to help you master the pronunciation.
Learn Chinese with Litao
Learn Chinese with Litao aims to provide entire Chinese courses through its structured YouTube videos, so the channel is perfect for students who love the organization of conventional courses but also value the flexibility of learning through YouTube. Because the channel aims to provide efficient, systematic and clear content, Learn Chinese with Litao is also a good choice for anyone who wants to shave unnecessary time and fluff off of the learning process.
Learn Chinese with Litao currently features several different courses, including lessons on pinyin, Chinese characters, elementary Chinese and practicing Chinese. Videos range from beginning through intermediate levels and introduce vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and listening practice.
For instance, students at an intermediate level can get a little listening practice through “Learn Chinese – HSK2 Practice Lesson- Shanghai’s Weather in Four Seasons,” which describes the seasons in Shanghai. The speaker initially describes the weather at a natural rate of speed. But don’t worry if you don’t catch everything! He then goes over the description again more slowly while the words appear on the screen.
Note: There hasn’t been any new content in the last couple of years, but you can still use these videos as part of your review.
Immersion can be one of the quickest ways to learn a language, but sometimes it can be hard to surround yourself with the Chinese language. If full immersion isn’t possible, Mandarin Corner is a good alternative. This YouTube channel aims to provide a more immersive experience by using a minimal amount of spoken English, allowing you to focus more fully on the Chinese language without interference from English.
The channel is intended for upper beginner- through intermediate-level students. It features standard topics, like vocabulary and grammar, but there are also some great features unique to this channel, like reading practice, podcasts and stories in slow Chinese.
During listening activities, the Chinese words and their meanings generally appear on screen, making it easy to follow along and/or study key words and phrases. For instance, “My Life as a Factory Girl in China – Intermediate Chinese Listening Practice” provides easy listening practice while introducing vocabulary related to factory work.
Slow & Clear Chinese
While Slow & Clear Chinese doesn’t offer a ton of video options, the videos it does offer are tremendously useful.
There are a few lessons designed to teach basic Chinese to complete beginners through immersive lessons. The speaker only speaks in Chinese. English translations appear on screen, but the main focus is on listening and learning.
Most of the videos on the channel, however, focus on providing listening practice appropriate for beginning- through intermediate-level students. As the channel name suggests, these videos are slow and clear to provide easy listening practice for Chinese students. Each video shows the Chinese words and their English translations for easy learning.
Each listening activity revolves around a theme. For instance, “Slow & Clear Chinese Listening Practice – Supermarket” features dialogue related to shopping and food.
Note: The channel hasn’t uploaded any new videos in the last couple of months, but there is still plenty of content to learn from.
Easy Languages focuses on a huge array of languages, and thankfully, Chinese is one of them.
Easy Languages offers authentic, on-the-street interviews with real people, giving quick insight into language and culture.
While Easy Languages doesn’t offer conventional Chinese lessons, intermediate and advanced Chinese students can use videos like “Do you like art? | Easy Taiwanese Mandarin 9” for unbeatable listening practice. This video is captioned in both Chinese and English, so you can easily follow along to catch any words you may have missed.
Learn Chinese Now
Hosted by a non-native Chinese speaker with the extensive help of friends who are native speakers, Learn Chinese Now offers lots of fun, innovative videos for beginning through advanced Chinese students.
Learn Chinese Now covers the standard topics you’d expect a learning channel to cover, such as vocabulary and grammar.
However, the channel also offers so much more than that. Not only does it cover advanced vocabulary, politics and news, it also provides the sorts of fun videos you’ll want to share with all your friends who are learning Chinese. For instance, “STUPID CHINESE TATTOOS!!” offers a hilarious look at Chinese tattoos that probably don’t mean what people thought they meant.
Note: Most of the videos are from four years ago, but the clips are still quite interesting and bring a fun element into advanced Chinese learning.
Kevin in Shanghai
When you reach a certain level of fluency, you can go beyond the typical grammar and vocab video lesson and learn the language through cultural videos on Kevin in Shanghai.
The creator likes to put a comedic and relatable spin to the content, with examples of videos such as “微信上的快乐瞬间 (wēi xìn shàng de kuài lè shùn jiān) Happiest Moment on Wechat be like.”
But what makes this channel quite unique is the cross-cultural component in his videos, where Kevin compares language and cultural differences between mainland China and Taiwan, China and other countries, Chinese-speaking foreigners and native Chinese speakers, and much more. There’s even a video that compares Mandarin accents around the world, which is very helpful for perfecting your own accent and pronunciation.
Overall, these clips are really fun language and culture lessons that would work best for the intermediate and advanced stages. But beginners are still totally welcome to watch his funny videos since they contain English subtitles.
If you love learning through visually appealing graphics and animations, then the Chineasy YouTube channel is for you. In terms of imagery, Chineasy likes to incorporate pictures into Chinese characters. Not only does this provide word-image association, but it also allows you to see the origins of the featured characters. Besides, who doesn’t like to learn through pictures? It just makes total sense with Chinese characters.
These short videos aren’t your generic vocab and grammar lesson that most learners are used to. Each clip is centered on a specific theme. Sometimes it’s Chinese culture specific, with stories about the zodiac and a dedicated playlist for Chinese wisdom. Other times, the theme is something more relevant on a global scale, covering topics such as terms for the digital age or vocabulary for international holidays. For example, the video “Learn phrases related to 水 (water) on 世界水日 (shì jiè shuǐ rì)!” was uploaded to commemorate World Water Day.
Because these videos are mostly in English to explain the components of characters and tell stories of Chinese wisdom, this channel is best for beginners. This is also great for visual learners.
With these 15 YouTube channels, you can learn Chinese the fun and easy way. Don’t forget to subscribe!