How to Learn Chinese by Watching Chinese YouTubers
Even though you can learn Mandarin Chinese at your leisure with the help of an app, simply learning the syntax and vocabulary just isn’t enough. Mandarin Chinese is one of the oldest modern languages still in use today. That means that Chinese has had much longer to refine itself, and as a result has one of the most rigid syntax/rules. English in comparison, is relatively newer and most rules have exceptions that even an experienced English speaker has trouble with.
As with all languages, context is everything.
For instance, in a formal conversation, the word, 对(duì, correct) can be used to mean “correct.” However, in a casual conversation, 对 can also be used to mean, “yeah” or “right.” So if you want to express agreement towards something, you can simply say, “对” in casual conversation.
The path to mastering language not only involves knowledge of rules but also practical use in real life situations.
That’s why here at LingQ, we curated a list of these 6 Chinese Youtubers for you to take a look at. They are sure to give you the social context you need to enhance your Mandarin language arts skills without needing to travel all the way to China.
Don’t forget, you can import content from YouTube into LingQ and study on your desktop or LingQ’s Android and iOS apps. What’s great about using LingQ rather than strictly sticking to YouTube is that LingQ will import the closed captions so you can easily look up new words, save them for review, create playlists, and much more…all in one system. Also, importing content takes seconds 🙂
With that being said, say 再见 (zàijiàn, goodbye) to robotic sounding playlists and boring language drills as we take out our electric brains (aka. computers or diànnăo, 电脑) and send some 爱(ài, love) to our favorite Mandarin Chinese speaking Youtube 偶像们 (ŏuxiàngmén, idols, ).
Originally from the West, Jared is a funny Youtuber who loves to talk about his experiences in Canada and China in Mandarin Chinese. His channel is very similar to Kevin in Shanghai’s, in which that the two compare Eastern and Western cultures in English and Chinese.
However, while Kevin’s videos focus mainly on cultural differences in general and thus use more English than Chinese, Jared’s videos are focused mostly on his personal life in China and Canada and therefore incorporates more Chinese than English.
Fun and engaging to watch, Jared’s videos provide valuable insight into Chinese language and culture without using any language drills.
In this Chinese cooking series, a girl named Xiao Gaojie shows fellow Youtubers how to make authentic Chinese food using only Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes, she cooks Western style foods such as French crepes and croissants and explains how to make these videos in Chinese.
Lost in Translation – LIT 我的海漂时代
Similar to Jared’s and Kevin in Shanghai’s channels, this channel is a look into the lives of Chinese people by using the actual Chinese language.
However, what makes this channel slightly different is that the most of the videos are catered towards both native born Chinese people and American Born Chinese people (otherwise referred to as ABCs). So not only are you learning the language as you’re watching the videos, you’re also developing a better understanding of Chinese culture as a whole.
A longtime member of the lolita fashion community, Youtuber and native Chinese speaker, Xiaoyu showcases her love and passion towards lolita fashion by reviewing various dresses and accessories in Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes, she would create unique Mandarin Chinese travel blogs of her wearing her beautiful Japanese street fashion clothes and team up with other lolita fashion Youtubers such as milkbox to give critiques on various lolita dresses.
Although her channel is technically not a Mandarin language learning based channel, it is nevertheless a great way to learn how colloquial Mandarin Chinese is used through various contexts. It is also an interesting way to see how young Chinese people view Japanese culture as.
A soft-spoken, gothic, native Chinese girl with a passion for dark humor and playing with her puppet pet panda bear(conveniently named “panda”), Xiaoli takes simple words such as 朋友 (péngyŏu, friend) and 裙子(qúnzi, skirt) and uses them in various contexts to understand how they work.
The best way to learn Chinese
What is the best way, you ask? Well, it’s to learn Chinese using content YOU love. Whether it’s from a YouTube channel, a song, or following Chinese celebrities on social media.
Staying motivated is key and LingQ is the best Chinese learning app because it allows you to import content you love and create interactive lessons 🙂 For example, here’s what it looks like when I import a YouTube video into LingQ.
As I mentioned earlier, you can easily look up new words, save them for review, create playlists, and much more…all in one system.
Give LingQ a try today and start your journey to fluency.
Enjoyed this post? Check out polyglot and LingQ cofounder Steve Kaufmann’s blog post for some tips on how to learn Chinese!
Author’s bio: Athena Zhang Baker has been studying Mandarin Chinese since she was 11. As of now, she is learning bits and pieces of other languages in addition to Chinese and creating Japanese anime-themed glossaries on the side.