Even When School is Closed, Students Can Still Listen and Lean Mandarin

It is December, so that means that most Mandarin classes will be taking a 1-2 week (or possibly longer-eeek!) break. Many parents and adult students worry about their kids, or themselves, losing some of their language over the break. Below is a roundup of some resources for continuing to get input in Mandarin Chinese (either through listening or reading). There is a mixture of traditional and simplified characters used in the different resources below. I teach simplified characters, but there is no harm in being familiar with both systems.

For preschool students and those who are just beginning Chinese:


This little ditty covers the very basics of hello and goodbye. It uses traditional characters with pinyin.


I like this song because it describes the different family members in a simple way. In addition to learning mom, dad, etc., students also learn that “mom’s mom is 外婆 and dad’s mom is 奶奶.” It doesn’t get started until about 25 seconds in.

For elementary students who can sit through a story entirely in Chinese:


This Chinese-language version of Don’t Let the Goose Drive the Bus uses traditional characters and bopomofo.


This version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? is also in traditional characters. I like it for comprehensible input because it is a story that students are almost guaranteed to be familiar with and it repeats the same structures over and over.


I like Are You My Mother? for the same reasons that I like Brown Bear. This version uses simplified characters and pinyin.

I got the tip for the Little Fox series from Twitter. There are many videos in this series, some are familiar, like this story of Little Red Riding Hood in Chinese, and others appear to be original stories. These videos do not have Chinese or pinyin subtitles. Since the vocabulary is fairly advanced (e.g. going to the vet in one story) I only recommend for students who have had at least 75-100 hours of Chinese study.

For middle school students and older who have been learning Chinese for at least 400 hours:


The American Mandarin Society has put together a list of all the places online you can watch (binge :)) Chinese television. You’ll have to click around the links because not all shows are available outside of China. I recommend watching romance(爱情) or comedy (喜剧) shows, because they tend to take place in present-day. Programs about ancient China or kungfu (武侠) tend to have a lot of specialized vocabulary that a student would not know, or need to know.



The BBC has many articles in Chinese, both in simplified and traditional characters. You can read about North Korea, or even just keep up with Prince Harry and Megan Markle over the break.

More free stuff:

Are you an adult student who is not ready to read news articles in Chinese, but wants to practice reading? I am working on a novella in Chinese that is a comfortable read for students who have had 200 hours of Chinese. With a dictionary and patience, it would be an achievable read for a student with 100+ hours of Chinese study. Get in touch with me and I will send you a copy when it is ready (hopefully before December 24, 2017).

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