Chinese language is best learned from fluent parents, relatives, friends, caregivers, and/or teachers. However, if you live in a monolingual community or just need a parenting break, free Chinese YouTube videos can help kids have fun learning Chinese!
The best Chinese YouTube videos for kids feature live storytelling, performances, and other interesting videos with relatable and memorable conversations in Chinese. This post has mostly Mandarin Chinese shows and videos plus a few Cantonese channels recommended that many of you suggested!
This post was first published in May 2018; it has since been updated with new suggestions.
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Can my child learn Chinese from YouTube videos?
Video with people can potentially help kids learn Chinese words in the context of facial expressions, body language, and the surrounding situation. Real actors and simple graphics are better than flashy, fast-paced cartoons. With less visual distractions, kids have a better chance at picking up Chinese vocabulary and pronunciation.
For families like ours who live in a non-diverse town, videos are an important way to expose our children to diversity. They get to “see” other people who speak Chinese like them! This awareness can motivate children to get excited about traveling to Chinese-speaking countries.
For safety, watch videos before showing them to kids. Parents who prefer to avoid screen time can play the videos and turn your screen away, effectively just using the audio.
Consider upgrading to YouTube Premium for commercial-free viewing. Otherwise, be cautious about those pesky and potentially inappropriate YouTube commercials.
How much time should my child watch Chinese YouTube videos?
In addition to setting a time and clear expectations, guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics are as follows:
- Under age 18 months: None (except for video-chatting with relatives)
- Age 18-24 months: Limited, high-quality screen-time with caregivers to ensure understanding
- Age 2-5 years: <1 hour per day with caregivers to ensure understanding.
- 6 years and up: Designate a specific time limit in the daily or weekly routine. Excessive videos at any age can hurt a child’s behavior, mental health, weight, vision, and sleep.
With infants and young children, real-life experiences and hands-on activities/games are the best ways to expand vocabulary. Minimizing screen-time is necessary to protect their developing brains and attention span. If you don’t have access to a native Chinese speaker at this age, it’s okay to wait until they are old enough to handle screen-time.
To learn more about the effects of media on children:
- Watch: TEDx video by health expert Dr. Dimitri Christakis
- Read: 10 tips to protect eyes during screen time from the American Academy of Ophthalmology
Mandarin Chinese activities on YouTube
These Chinese YouTube channels are wonderfully engaging for young learners.
- Grace Yang: This Chinese Montessori teacher has so many practical activities for preschoolers. Because she speaks slowly and calmly, her lessons are also great for parents who are learning everyday parenting vocabulary.
- Mama Laoshi: A Taiwanese-American mom shares her experience with homeschooling her children in various relatable contexts (eg, apple picking, sink-or-float experiment).
Mandarin Chinese storytelling on YouTube
- Mulberry House Mandarin Education: Dynamic storytelling by Chinese teachers at a Reggio-based school in Hong Kong.
- Tutor Time Int’l Nursery & Kindergarten: Dynamic storytelling by Chinese teachers at a bilingual school in Hong Kong.
- Kids Mandarin Montessori: Fluent Mandarin Montessori teacher telling stories, singing songs, and teaching short lessons.
Mandarin Chinese music shows on YouTube
- Mandarin for Me: Learning videos, Chinese songs with piano music, and student performances by a Chinese American teacher. She also has a wealth of resources on her website.
- Wen Junior: Simple cartoons for popular songs and poem spoken in a clear and pleasant voice with lyrics in simplified Chinese. I am including this, because the graphics are slow and easy to follow as a non-native speaker.
For fluent speakers
- 中国好声音官方频道SING!CHINA Official Channel: Sing! China is a music talent show similar to The Voice which features talented musicians who have dreams to be professional singers.
Related: 100+ Popular Chinese Songs for Kids
Mandarin Chinese live action shows on YouTube
- YOYOTV: Popular Taiwanese program for young children with real actors and an animated backdrop. We have not yet watched this channel as I think the pace and bright colors are too fast and stimulating in most episodes. Including because very popular and features Taiwanese people. Some episodes, such as this one, are more natural.
- 親子台 Momo: Similar to YOYO TV, Mom is a Taiwanese program for kids with a mix of actors and animation.
Mandarin Chinese science and math YouTube videos
- Khan Academy Mandarin: Educational math videos in Mandarin Chinese by the nonprofit organization Khan Academy. Text is in Simplified Chinese. (More Chinese math resources in this post.)
- 小主播看天下WOW: Children’s news program with 2-3 stories about world issues or things happening in Taiwan.
- CCTV (Central Chinese Television): China’s major broadcasting network has a few Chinese children’s channels:
Mandarin Chinese Cooking Videos on YouTube
- 甜悦 Tinrry: Dessert-making lessons in Mandarin Chinese – this is my daughter’s favorite cooking channel! Subtitles are in simplified Chinese.
- 曼食慢语 Amanda Tastes: Cooking lesson videos from a Chinese food blogger in the United Kingdom. Subtitles are in simplified Chinese; English subtitles are available.
Chinese Christian YouTube videos
- Stream of Praise: Worship music with recorded performances. They have a wide selection of Christian music for adults and children in Mandarin Chinese and English, and you can watch children’s concerts on their YouTube channel. You can also order CDs and DVDs from their website!
- GOOD TV 兒童頻道: Taiwan’s Christian Channel has a show 烤箱讀書會 where two adults read a book and then teach the kids how to bake something related to the story. The downside of this channel is the frequent amounts of screencuts and angle changes and the excessively colorful backdrop.
Chinese Culture and Holidays on YouTube
- ChineseClass101.com: This channel has tons of videos for various levels of fluency (eg, mix of English and Chinese versus full Chinese). Here are videos about popular holidays:
- Taoshu and Friends: This playlist from Peach Blossom Media features Chinese culture. Videos are animations mixed with real people. The following videos are in Mandarin Chinese.
Popular Mandarin Chinese cartoons
Although we prefer live action Chinese shows, here are 2 great Chinese cartoons:
- 巧虎 Qiaohu (reviewed here) is a popular educational cartoon with a useful monthly subscription.
- Little Fox Chinese is a really wonderful channel with hundreds of free videos with short stories and songs. Highly recommend!
Cantonese stories on YouTube
- Cantonese Mommy: Dynamic storytelling by a native Cantonese speaker with her son.
Cantonese cooking videos on YouTube
- Mama Cheung – Cantonese cooking channel featuring many types of Asian dishes. Audio: Cantonese. Subtitles: English and traditional Chinese.
- Made with Lau: Classic Chinese recipes from a family with 50+ experience as a Chinese chef! Audio: Cantonese and English. Subtitles: English and traditional Chinese.
What other realistic Chinese videos for kids do you recommend?
If you have other favorite Chinese YouTube channels, we all would be grateful to hear them! Please leave a comment below with your suggestions!