Sunday, July 18, 2010

goldmine of Chinese TV dramas online!

I have finally stumbled onto a goldmine for Chinese language learners.  Of course, authentic content made for natives, not learners. If you want to learn real Chinese without buying DVDs, without membership fees, and without having to watch the same thing over and over, now you can! All you need is your modern computer and an internet connection.

If you've been around the Chinese language learn-o-sphere for a while, you've probably heard of CCTV. Well, let me tell you, their website is no simple matter to navigate.  Every time you click on a link, you either go to a sub-domain or another one of their other domains.  The web page I am about to introduce to you, I found through CITVC, China International Television Corporation. But the final destination is a sub-domain of CNTV.  Perhaps that stands for China Network TV, but I don't know for sure.

The domain is  The top page is probably not the best place to start from, especially if you don't read Chinese, like me. Word of caution, do not click on the link at the top of the page that says English. That will take you to another website, not an English version of the site you are looking at.

If you start from the top page, or even another page, scroll down to where you see a bunch of links on the right side neatly arranged in 4 columns. At the top of that section is the alphabet with a link for each letter.  Those four columns are categories that the dramas fall into. Don't ask me what they mean because I don't know.  You can click on one that you like and then you'll go to a page with links to the dramas. That page has a picture for each drama so you can choose whatever looks interesting by clicking on the picture. There are pages and pages for each category, so click a link at the bottom in the list of numbers to go to another page in that category. Each page is showing 5 dramas.

All Chinese dramas have Chinese subtitles, but I recommend you cover them up until you understand the spoken language 100%. I also recommend watching dramas set in the modern era.

When you click on the drama link, you'll go to the drama page. At the bottom or middle of the page is a 4x5 grid of pictures. These are links to each episode. Start with episode 01, which you will see in the top left of the grid.

The pages don't change by url. So you'll need to accept cookies from the site and have javascript on. You probably do already, but if you click the page links and it's not updating, then you'd better check your browser settings.

When you start an episode, it might take a minute or two loading before you see anything in the player.

If you need help finding a good category to click on, this category is for city dramas. If you're really lost or don't think you can learn by watching a drama in a language you don't understand, try this episode. You'll clearly see what's going on. I'm only 3 minutes into it, but this one is REALLY INTERESTING!  Enjoy!


  1. Thanks for the link, Keith! I've been looking for some TV dramas for a while so this site is a godsend.

    I'm not too keen on costume or police dramas but the 城市 dramas are right up my alley. :)

  2. Hey man, this is a great. I have another site, I would recommend for the same kind of content. Check out (or this link will take you to the TV section To arrive at this page starting from the homepage, use the top navigation. It is easiest if you select the characters 影视, which actually leads to a superb film selection. This link will open a new tab, with a new heading. You will notice then that 电影 will be highlighted (which means movies). Select the tab next too it, and it will take you to the link I placed above. On this page, all of the content is organized by country, genre, and Chinese region (they organize by cities like 北京、上海、广州 (Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou) for example. The website is directed towards native speakers, and I'll admit if you can read Chinese characters it is a lot easier, but it's another site, like you have mentioned. Just wanted to let you know, in case you had never heard of it. Thanks so much for the link, I hadn't heard of this site, and I'm gonna dig in and check it out!

  3. Thank for posting this, Keith! It certainly looks promising!

  4. These are great -- thanks for the link. I'm just getting back into studying Chinese after a long absence and I like using authentic material. It really forces me to focus on the spoken language and pronunciation. Cheers.

  5. Toph, the site you linked to looks great. Unfortunately for me, the episodes are not playing. I see a 9 second advertisement in the player, but after that the episodes don't play. Probably my area is blocked. If anyone else from Japan can play the dramas from the site Toph provided a link for, please let me know. Otherwise I will just figure it doesn't play for Japan.

  6. Excellent find man. Watching a lot of TV series lately. Great stuff.

    By the way, I posted this up on http://socialmandarin so that other Mandarin Learners can share this!

  7. Hey Keith! Good blog post. I like learning through dramas because the language is so natural and authentic!

  8. Nice links Keith, good to see you back.

    I found some cop shows on there, also had a look at that more light hearted cop show you have been watching.

  9. Don't know if you've tried this one before, but it's the best I've used for Chinese:

    I'm watching this drama now and I have to admit, it's pretty good:

    They also have some good cartoons, like this Japanese one in Chinese:

  10. Very interesting blog post. I love the TV method too.


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