If you’re considering screen time to supplement Chinese language learning, shows with real people are better than cartoons. Ideally, language is learned best from fluent parents, relatives, friends, caregivers, and/or teachers. However, if you live in a monolingual community like us, videos can help with teaching kids Chinese.
This list of recommended Chinese YouTube channels features shows I’ve watched or considered or my children.
These kids’ Chinese YouTube channels feature live storytelling, performances, and other interesting videos with fluent Mandarin Chinese speakers. At the end of the post, I’ve included 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.
Can my child learn Chinese from YouTube videos?
Certain videos with people can potentially help your child learn Chinese words in the context of facial expressions, body language, and the surrounding situation.
For families like ours without a native Chinese speaker at home, media can be a way for kids to learn that there are other people who speak Chinese in this world! This awareness might motivate children to get excited about Chinese language and culture!
In summary, shows with real actors and simple graphics are preferable to flashy, fast-paced animation. With less visual distractions, kids have a better chance at focusing on the Chinese dialogue.
Health and safety considerations with YouTube videos
- Please do not use screen-time for infants as language teaching tool. Infants and young children learn best from person-to-person interaction. Also, excessive use at any age can negatively affect behavior, attention span, hands-on exploration, physical activity, obesity, vision, and sleep. To learn more about the effects of media on children, please watch this informative TEDx video by Dr. Dimitri Christakis. HealthyChildren.org also has research-based advice about children’s health, including screen-time guidelines.
- Watch videos before showing them to kids to determine whether you think it is suitable for your family.
- Parents who prefer to avoid screen time can play the videos on your phone and turn your phone upside-down, effectively just using the audio.
- Consider upgrading to YouTube Red for commercial-free viewing. Otherwise, be cautious about inappropriate YouTube commercials…
Tips for preventing digital eye strain
- The American Academy of Ophthalmology has 10 tips to protect eyes during screentime
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:
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.
Mandarin Chinese stories on YouTube
Bilingual Chinese/English videos with visible narrator
- Miss Panda Chinese: Bilingual Mandarin Chinese songs and stories by a Taiwanese American teacher. This is a great channel for young kids just starting to learn Chinese.
- Grow With Me, Mommy: Bilingual storytelling in Mandarin Chinese and English! Books are Simplified Chinese and English.
- Trilingual Teacher 삼중언어 선생님 三语老师: This teacher is fluent in Mandarin, Korean, and English!
Full Chinese videos narrator is visible
- 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.
Full Chinese videos with book only (narrator not visible)
- 親子共讀故事館: Dynamic storytelling by a native Mandarin speaker with traditional Chinese books.
- Bonnie Liu: Dynamic storytelling from a mother to child with traditional Chinese books.
Mandarin Chinese activities
- 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 music 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 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.
- 吳恩文的快樂廚房 Wu Happy Kitchen: Clear and simple “How To” cooking lessons.
- Dream Chef Home 夢幻廚房在我家: Asian food Cooking lessons.
- YOYO 料理甜甜圈: A colorful, dynamic Taiwanese cooking channel featuring multiple chef and friendly competitions.
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). Below are just a few examples:
- Taoshu and Friends: This playlist from Peach Blossom Media features Chinese culture. Videos are animations mixed with real people. Some videos are in English; others are in Mandarin Chinese. The following videos are in Mandarin.
Popular Mandarin Chinese cartoons
Although we don’t regularly watch cartoons because of the preference for live action shows, there are a few that we think are great!
- Little Fox Chinese is a really wonderful channel with hundreds of free videos with short stories and songs. Highly recommend!
- 巧虎 Qiaohu (reviewed here) is a popular educational cartoon with a useful monthly subscription.
Cantonese stories on YouTube
Although we are not learning Cantonese, many parents asked me to share some resources!
- Cantonese Mommy: Dynamic storytelling by a native Cantonese speaker with her son.
Cantonese cooking videos on YouTube
- 阿爺廚房系列 – This TVB series teaches where to buy, how to pick ingredients, and how best to prep the dish. Although it’s not geared toward kids, it’s a way to introduce Hong Kong culture. Audio: Cantonese. Subtitles: traditional Chinese.
- 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.
Do you recommend other realistic Chinese videos for children?
I’m always looking for more educational resources for my children and our CHALK Academy community, and finding quality videos can be challenging!
If you have suggestions, we all would be grateful to hear them! Please leave a comment below with your recommendations!
Other Chinese learning resources for kids:
- Educational Chinese apps
- Chinese books for children
- Chinese music for children
- Fun, hands-on Chinese learning activities!
Recommended articles about how to teach kids Chinese
If you need tips on how to teach your child Chinese, these posts are for you!
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker
- 15 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read