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#ChinoyTips: How to improve your Mandarin skills by watching Chinese dramas

Ever want to be productive and entertained at the same time? It’s a well-known fact that watching Chinese dramas bring us joy and company with different genres, heartthrob actors, catchy OST songs, and riveting plots. There are so many dramas you can choose from with interesting fresh new releases every month. But, did you know that you can actually learn and improve your Mandarin skills by watching your favorite C-dramas

Watching Chinese television series regularly is one of the most effective and efficient ways to do so. Chinese dramas are good visual and auditory materials that are accessible to anyone who wants to learn Mandarin since there are a number of streaming applications where you can watch Chinese dramas. They are also an affordable alternative to going to China to learn the language.

You can discover how native fluent Chinese speakers talk and interact, which can help with your conversational Chinese skills. You can learn and understand what the actors are conveying with their words, intonation, mood, facial expressions, and actions. As well as, their actors’ frequent interjections like () as wow or (ēn) as an approval or agreement that you can easily say.

Courtesy of JSTV

With the help of Chinese dramas, you can enjoy and easily be motivated by sharpening and mastering your Mandarin skills, especially at a conversational level. Here are 5 ways on how you can achieve to speak like Shan Cai from Meteor Garden or Jiang Chen from A Love So Beautiful!

1. Watching shows based on your level of fluency 

Although it’s important to watch a Chinese drama that you’re interested in, it’s highly encouraged to consider the genre, format, and plot of the shows you’re watching. Not every viewer with an advanced level of proficiency in Mandarin can easily comprehend historical fantasy and political-themed dramas. These genres can be difficult and challenging for others who may not have a deep background in basic Mandarin. 

For beginners, cartoons and donghuas animations are helpful for basic Mandarin yet they’re still entertaining to watch. Rom-com dramas are best for people whose Mandarin is on an intermediate level. From school to office plots, these type of dramas can cater to anyone’s taste and age levels. They’re easy to understand and comprehend because of the simple words and phrases that modern-day characters use to express. Not to mention, you can easily apply what you had learned to convey your own thoughts and emotions to your family members, friends, and lovers. If you’re not a fan of the romance genre and animations, comedy-dramas or variety shows are good alternatives for beginners because it’s light and enjoyable. They’re simple to comprehend because the shows are purely conversational from the jokes and humorous conversations. 

Courtesy of Tencent Video

2. Actively watching with Chinese and English subtitles

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just watching Chinese dramas leisurely. Many C-drama lovers complain that their fluency hasn’t increased despite the number of shows that they had watched. Reading English subtitles does not suffice in increasing your fluency in Mandarin because you don’t know the characters the actors are blurting out. That’s why it’s best to watch these dramas with Chinese and English subtitles so that you can see both characters in different languages. This is one of the best methods of actively watching Chinese dramas and learning Chinese grammar by looking at the sentence patterns. You can slice the sentences into pieces like the Chinese words, idioms, and phrases used by the actors. Then, you can translate these into English and review how the sentences are formed in Chinese.

3. Attentively look for keywords and phrases in sentences

In every Chinese drama, there will frequent words and phrases that actors say in modern dramas. If you watch attentively, you’ll even find these words and phrases familiar in every drama with a related genre or plot. Try not to mentally remember these keywords and phrases because you’ll still be bound to forget them. Make sure that you take note of them in your digital notes and look them up in a Chinese-English dictionary, so you know the pronunciation, translations, and characters. It may be a time-consuming and daunting task but this is an effective way to improve your proficiency in Mandarin. ChinoyTV’s #LearnChinesewithCDramas posts on Facebook can help you take note of these keywords and phrases from popular Chinese dramas that you love. Scroll through the hashtag to remember and take note of them!

4. Memorize and apply the keywords and phrases in your everyday life

With all the words, phrases, and idioms that you’ve gathered, it’s time to do different memorization techniques like spaced repetition by using flashcards like Quizlet and Anki. You can also input them into Google translate to help you practice its correct intonation and pronunciation. Memorizing them won’t be enough for you to be a fluent Mandarin speaker. That’s why you can effectively learn Mandarin by using and incorporating them into your everyday life. You can start constructing sentences to improve your conversational Chinese skills. In this way, you can truly apply what you’ve learned and memorized. This can help you remember them faster based on the Chinese dramas that you watched. 

Courtesy of Tencent Video

5. Testing your fluency and comprehension 

There are many different ways to test yourself if you have truly learned new words, phrases, and idioms from the Chinese dramas. You can do self-assessments tests. One of the best ways you can test yourself is by re-watching the drama without English subtitles. While you may know the plot or iconic lines already, it’s still an effective way in testing your oral comprehension. 

Courtesy of Tencent Video

Adding Chinese subtitles is still recommended for people whose Chinese skills are at the beginner’s level. Of course, it may still be difficult for them to remember how to write all the characters of the words, phrases, and idioms in this drama. This is still one of the most effective ways for you to check if you can comprehend what the actors are saying. If you’re at an intermediate level, it’s highly recommended to watch the show without Chinese subtitles. In this way, you can test your oral comprehension that doesn’t rely on reading and looking through the subtitles. You can also test yourself if you can correctly write the characters of the keywords, phrases, and idioms. As well as, writing the lines of the actors and constructing sentences on how you describe and convey your thoughts about a specific scene and character.

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