Using viki dramas to learn/consolidate chinese

Does anyone here do this?

Do you follow a learning plan or you just enjoy dramas and practice listening?

When I feel very self-disciplined, I pay attention to the intonation, I try to catch words and I even look up the characters from the subtitles.

More often, though, I simply watch the drama as I would any drama in any language.


I hear the cognates and it improves my English translations. We have very similar words as mandarin. I feel not 100% but much more confident translating from source mandarin with English subtitles as an aid.

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I already know Chinese, so I don’t do that for Chinese dramas. But I’m learning Thai, so whenever I watch Thai dramas, I will try to catch every word. Sometimes, I even replay a section over and over just to hear it again. And I try to look up words that I don’t understand. Pity though, there’s rarely any Thai captions, which makes it hard to look up characters because my Thai spelling is atrocious.


@sophie2you & @moonandstars

Your methods imply a relatively advanced level. Do you thing dramas/movies are good idea for beginners?

I think they might help with getting the feeling of the language, the intonation, the tones and all the things books (or youtube) can’t teach you. But I may be wrong and they should wait until someone learns the basics first and tries to recognize them after. :worried:

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I use Viki as an extra learning tool sometimes for Korean… Then I watch Kdrama with Hangul subs or play the guessing game when there are no subs yet and then later check if I was correct :slight_smile:


hahaha no. My mandarin is non-existent. it is like a Spanish speaker watching something in portuguese and vice versa.
Which are in same language family for greek? I’m not sure…

Nothing is in the same language family as Greek.
However there are numerous Greek words in all European languages, especially in the fields of science, philosophy and the arts.


Actually in terms of Thai, I’m only a beginner, MAYBE intermediate level? I took some classes in my university to learn Thai (so that I wouldn’t have to wait and pray that they would sub my favourite lakorns anymore). So I learnt the basics there and then from there, I watch lakorns to improve my vocab and grammar.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone to speak to, so I think my intonation still sucks. I think the only way you improve your intonation is by speaking with a native speaker and having correct you, because for some tones that don’t exist in your language, it might sound to you like you’re speaking it correctly, when actually it’s wrong.

I think, in language learning, you can’t just start learning from shows without any background knowledge. I mean, sure, you might learn common phrases, such as those that I learn from watching Korean dramas, but you don’t really the basic grammar/structure to be able to figure out what is the noun or verb in that phrase. But after attaining some background knowledge, dramas help you to learn the vocab, grammar, intonation much faster. Although, make sure you watch a variety of shows. Like currently, most of the vocab in the Thai lakorns are all about love/hate and stuff like that, so in Thai, the only lengthy meaningful conversation I can hold is probably if I wanna oogle about some hot actor/actress or flirt with someone? I kinda don’t have much vocab for talking about other stuff?


I call that “survival” vocabulary. :wink:

My level in mandarin is… unidentfied. Supposedly hsk2, because I passed it, but in reality 90 words and guesswork.

Dramas do help me retain elementary vocabulary, but I rely too much on subs and replays. What I realised by watching them, is that I learn new words without noticing and that, at beginner level,
I can tell the elements of a sentence.

For intonation and pronunciation, I always suggest songs. Learn your favourites by heart and sing them along. Native speakers would be better, but I understand you don’t have the possibility.

Some learners practice voice shadowing, but I think it is extremely frustrating and tiring.


The important thing here is to understand what’s being said. If you can guess by the cognates, you’re halfway there. The writing system may be a problem, though.

Irmar explained it nicely about greek.

Haha. I know right? Absolutely survival ESPECIALLY if I meet a Thai hottie :kissing_heart:

I have no idea what does a hsk2 level mean for you level of Chinese, but… I guess what I do when I want to challenge myself is turn off the subs, and watch it once without the subs, before I watch it again with subs to see if I guessed it correctly, or to actually find out what it actually meant if I had ABSOLUTELY no idea.

If you want to learn Chinese using dramas, I’d suggest using the Taiwanese ones to practice, since the ones from Mainland China have stronger accents and people usually find Taiwanese Chinese easier to understand. You could do Mainland periodicals too (the current Singing All Along is AWESOME), since they usually dub it so the accent isn’t as strong, but the vocab is more complex and arcane and requires more cultural context, so if you’re a beginner, you’d be lost in translation. Although, I highly recommend it once you reach an upper intermediate level. And actually, for some of the wuxia dramas, which have less cultural context, maybe even lower intermediate?

Btw, if you are listening to songs for intonation and pronunciation, DO NOT listen to Jay Chou. He might be famous, but he’s also known for not pronouncing his words properly.


Hi @christina_ ,

Good to see you again at language learning discussions on Viki!

@dudie, @moonandstars @irmar @sophie2you, I am from Viki team and we are looking at few features to enhance language learning experience for the users besides other great release.

I am interviewing power users like you guys, and will be happy to know if we can have a quick online interview over skype/google hangout (30 min tops). We will love your feedback which will help us build great product for you! If you are interested, you can reply to this thread or to me, and we can take it forward. :slight_smile:


Is he the one who sings “qie ai”?
I’ m afraid I’ve got limited choice of chinese songs in my region, so I’m taking what is on offer. I mostly rely on OST.

Hsk2 is about 300 words and very basic grammar.

Hi, @piyush_lko

Glad to hear the language project is advancing. I’m looking forward to the learning possibilities :slight_smile:

Are you learning a language here on Viki, by the way?

@piyush_lko Sure! :slight_smile:

@christina_ Are you referring to this?
If so, yes. Why is there limited Chinese songs in your region? What are you using to gain access to Chinese songs? There are loads on Youtube.

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Even on youtube, I have trouble accessing content.
It’s my main ressource, of course, but I can’t always find subtitles and sometimes content suddenly disappears. (I guess dmca)
I also use youku (same obstacles as in youtube). I tried qq lists, but they were totally unavailable. Sometimes I find songs at the weibo sidebar, but they rarely have subtitles.

I’m not sure about that. Could it cause problems to the speaking and listening part of the exams? They are supposed to assess our knowledge of the mainland norm.

Although I have to admit I enjoy taiwanese dramas, they are less… victorian than the mainland ones.

Honestly? I thought most Youtube content is accessible worldwide, save maybe countries like China? That sucks. Hmm… I don’t know about where you’re from or what the internet restrictions you have there so I don’t really know how to advice you to look up songs. I guess… I have a library of songs that if you want you could probably PM me and I could send some to you? … Is that illegal sharing of songs? :X

Actually my advice for you wouldn’t be to look at subtitles for songs. It’s taxing but look up the dictionary (Chinese if you can, or Chinese-English works as well) for lyrics you don’t actually understand. It’s taxing but… well… it’ll be worth it. Because music subtitles rarely manage to translate the beauty of the lyrics. And it makes the song SO MUCH more awesome. Even Jay Chou songs. His pronunciation sucks. But he has this lyricist who writes absolutely beautiful lyrics.

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Do you isolate dialogue parts according to vocabulary topic? Or just watch them in context?

Mainland norm? That’s CRAZY. There’s a thousand different accents in mainland China. Some of their regional accents aren’t quite understandable to people of other regions too. It’d be like learning the Cockney accent, you’ll sound more “local”, but you won’t really be understandable to most other Chinese speaking population. No, as well, those accents aren’t quite recognized in a sense. There’s this “standard, no accent Chinese” that I guess most try to get to, and I feel that the Taiwanese dramas tend to have the least accents, at least, unless they’re trying to act the bumpkin, then, their accent becomes exaggerated.

Oh ya, I should think that during the test, they’ll most likely use the “standard, no accent Chinese” to test you,