We have all been spending more time at home recently. This has afforded more time for things like learning a new language and binge watching TV shows on Amazon Prime.
Why not combine these two great pastimes? That’s what I did!
During this pandemic, I decided to try out some Chinese dramas on my streaming service, Amazon Prime. Not only was it great for language learning but it was also great for entertainment.
I don’t think I need to share how many hours of cdramas I watched or how quickly I burned through them when my kids went to bed. Out of the shows I explored and tried out four of them hooked me and had me unable to turn off the TV until the wee hours. I even found myself able to understand some of what they were saying when I wasn’t looking at the subtitles.
Some of the words for mom and dad were different but there were many words and phrases that I recognized from my Yoyo Chinese lessons. Tea - 茶 (chá) is used often and becomes very recognizable. But I will tell you more of the phrases I picked up as we go on.
1. The Legend of Fuyoa
This was the very first Chinese drama I watched and at first I was not hooked. I thought it was a little over the top with mythical beasts, magic flowers, and water control but it only took two episodes and there was no going back.
Set in the five realms, this show follows the heroine, Fuyao, on her journey to break her seals, find out about her past, and save the five realms from destruction. There are hidden identities, love stories, stolen thrones, and evil plots everywhere. But the best part of this show is the relationship between Fuyoa and Wuji.
I don’t want to spoil too much for you because you need to watch it yourself but I was genuinely sad when it was over.
This was also the first time I recognized a phrase as it was being said, 好茶 (hǎo chá) - good tea. It is simple but I was really excited that I recognized anything at all! Knowing that my lessons are paying off was a great feeling.
2. The Princess in The Eastern Palace / Goodbye My Princess
If you are ready for a love story with twists, turns, betrayals, memory loss, and watching the tragedy unfold again then you are in for a treat.
"The Princess in the Eastern Palace" - more commonly known outside of Amazon as "Goodbye My Princess" - is a love story that goes wrong. The main characters weren’t supposed to meet when they did or fall in love. They were supposed to be married as an alliance between kingdoms, but they didn’t know that.
He lies about his identity to get close to her grandfather and destroy his nation. All of this to become the crown prince of Han. He didn’t count on loving her. She is devastated and jumps in the forgetting river to forget her pain and he jumps too. Then it all starts over but in Han. And they remember nothing. But their friends remember everything.
While I started watching this to help with my receptive Mandarin, the story swallowed me. I was invested in the characters and the story. The ending hurt. But it was so good. I recommend this show to anyone that wants a beautifully tragic story line and some fun Mandarin practice. The phrase “I hate you” - 我恨你 (wǒ hèn nǐ) - was used so many times it became easy to pick up.
3. Nothing Gold Can Stay
This has been by far my favorite Chinese drama that I have watched to date. The characters were memorable and played so well by the actors that it is hard to remember that they are someone else entirely. Not to mention that this is loosely based on an actual person.
This is a story about a successful female merchant in China during the late 19th century, Zhou Ying. She was witty, fun, feisty, and stubborn. But she was kind and cared about people. When the family she married into was framed and ruined, she brought them back from the disaster. She was widowed young and didn’t remarry but she did love another. He left and became a revolutionary.
I actually cried at the end of this one. It was just so good. But the most memorable thing about this show was when one of the characters said 随便 (suí biàn) - “whatever.” I actually sat straight up in my chair and said, “I know that phrase!” I had just learned it in this Yoyo Chinese lesson!
4. The Longest Day in Chang’an
To do this they get the city’s most notorious criminal out of jail and enlist him to solve the mystery and find the people. Each episode is action packed and has you on the edge of your seat. 吃 (chī) - eat, 茶 (chá) - tea, and 刑事 (xíng shì) - criminal are used pretty often and are recognizable.
The only issue is that the main character tends to not speak clearly so he isn’t as understandable fo beginners but the other characters are pretty clear. Plus there are subtitles so you will always know what is going on.
While it may seem like just sitting in front of the TV there has been valuable learning happening. I have learned about Chinese history, Chinese culture, and the Chinese language. I have begun discerning words even when the speaking isn’t very clear and the importance of facial expressions when speaking.
If you have some down time and want to work on your Chinese receptive language you should check out one (or all) of these Chinese dramas.
Of course the key to making progress learning Chinese is following a structured program. The courses here on YoyoChinese.com are a structured path to help you build up your Chinese vocabulary, speaking and listening skills to a level where you can enjoy these awesome shows in their native language - without subtitles!
If you haven't already, sign up and check out the free lessons at the start of each course and see how Yoyo Chinese makes learning Chinese possible.
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Tue, 17 Nov 2020 08:00:00 GMT
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