YouTube: 4 Best Chinese Shows for Preschoolers - Playlist Shared

Where can I find preschooler Chinese shows that are not only helpful for language acquisition, but also educational and fun? Over the years, I have made many attempts to find videos to increase my sons' exposure to Chinese. I have tried, failed, and learned in many ways (read my post After 9 years, Have I Found the Best Way to Watch Children's Chinese Shows in the U.S.) ! I have to say, YouTube is the top runner for its ease of access. 
 
I have a love hate relationship with YouTube. I love it for it's ease of access. What I hate is how time-consuming the process of finding high quality and appropriate Chinese children's shows can be. Too many video clips come up after each search: different versions of what seem to be the same show, different languages, different Chinese subtitles (Traditional Chinese v.s. Simplified Chinese), low quality picture or audio, “camming” copies of movies apparently recorded in a movie theater, slide show music videos… You name it, I've seen it! (By the way, in case you are doing your own searches, I have learned that trying a combination of Chinese and English search terms often works better than using one language alone.)

After I spent, literally, hours searching YouTube, I finally found 4 shows my kids loved and I approved of!  I sorted through the many episodes and made a playlist for each, so that, I wouldn't have to sort them out again later. Normally, I let my kids watch YouTube when I am busy with something else, so, all I wanted to do was to simply be able to press PLAY!

I wanted to make the playlists available to the JoJo community by putting them on our YouTube channel.  I went through all the search and sorting headaches so that you don't have to! The 4 playlists I am recommending here are suitable for preschoolers who speak Chinese or who are learning to speak Chinese.  Based on reviews and our own children’s experience, I believe these are among the best shows available on YouTube that can both entertain your children and put more Chinese in their life! The basic and everyday language used in these shows is great exposure for preschoolers or young children who have just started learning Chinese. Your child doesn't have to understand every word of the show to enjoy it. The pictures and context help to convey the meaning. Watching Chinese shows is especially effective for little Chinese learners who have limited Chinese exposure at home! 

My kids don't even mind the commercials that come with watching YouTube for free. They learned to click the "Skip" button to skip them as soon as possible.  In my experience, YouTube has done a pretty good job  showing age appropriate commercials with these shows.  That said, you could ensure that all ads your child sees are considered family-friendly by only allowing your child to access these shows via the YouTube Kids App

To our JoJo team's delight, more and more high quality children's content producers are making their shows available on YouTube. Subscribe to this blog or our YouTube Channel to stay updated with our reviews and playlists!

1. 海底小纵队 (Hǎi Dǐ Xiǎo Zòng D, Octonauts )

First aired: 2010

Country origin: United States & Canada

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitle: Simplified Chinese

YouTube Video quality: High

YouTube Playlist:  海底小纵队 Octonauts 

Why I recommend: Action, responsibilities, curiosity, dedication, learning about the ocean and its inhabitants. Octonauts are friendly adventurers teaching preschoolers about marine life and teamwork. The English series was nominated for an Emmy Award. The Chinese translation and voice over are well done as well!

Chinese learning superpower: This animated series is based on a book series of the same name--the Chinese versions of those books are available as well! In addition, since the series has become a hit, several new books which correspond to the new episodes have hit the market. Watching the show could prompt some read aloud Chinese story time, enabling the multimodal learning that is very beneficial for language acquisition!

All the Octonauts episodes in our playlist come with simplified Chinese subtitles. When it comes to helping children learn to speak and read Chinese, we really prefer shows with Chinese subtitles.  Even for very young kids,  I am careful not to underestimate how much they may learn from watching those characters appearing in the subtitle. I have known parents who credit Chinese subtitles for teaching their kids to recognize Chinese characters.  

"Parents need to know that Octonauts is an ocean-set preschool cartoon that encourages kids' curiosity about the world by introducing them to some of the sea's diverse species. The show incorporates fun facts about sea creatures in its stories and songs, and the characters' actions illustrate the show's themes of cooperation, friendship, and caring for others."   -Commonsense Media

2. 小猪佩奇 (Xiǎo Zhū Pèi Qí, Peppa Pig)

First aired: 2001

Country origin: UK

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitle: None

YouTube Video quality: High

YouTube Playlist: 小猪佩奇 Peppa Pig 

Why I recommend: Family, friendship, happiness and kindness…This sweet pig family provides gentle lessons to preschoolers. This popular British Children’s series was translated into Chinese and became an instant household name in China. We love the show’s high quality Chinese translation and voice over. Simple, everyday language is packed in laughter-filled, heart-warming stories. Peppa Pig is the all-time favorite of my boys (and their mom :-)).

Chinese learning superpower: Like most popular children's TV series these days, Peppa Pig has been adapted into several different picture books in Simplified Chinese.  If you can identify your child's favorite episodes, try finding books (we selected some here) and activities which correspond to those episodes and use those things to reinforce the language your child was exposed to in the video. When a child is exposed to the same information in a variety of media (e.g. video, book, activity), it is known as multimodal learning, and it is considered a best practice among language educators.  

“Parents need to know that Peppa Pig is a mild and very cute British animation series, suitable for the youngest members of the household. The show's animation is simple and pleasant, and crises revolve around the kind of things preschoolers worry about: visiting grandparents, playgroups, riding bikes. Strong social lessons about kindness, loyalty, and being thoughtful run throughout each episode.-Commonsense Media” 

[Cultural side note: To give some indication of Peppa's popularity in China, this 5-minute live action short film about a rural Chinese grandfather trying to find out what a "佩奇(Pèi Qí, Peppa )" is for his grandchild went viral in January 2019 (leading up to the Chinese new year) and will bring a tear to your eye if you haven't already seen it. ]   

3. 睡衣小英雄 (Shuì Yī Xiǎo Yīng Xióng, PJ Masks )

First aired: 2015

Country origin: British and French co-production

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitle: Simplified Chinese

YouTube Video quality: High

YouTube Playlist: 睡衣小英雄 PJ Masks

Why I recommend: Superheroes, teamwork, problem-solving and cooperation. The trio of three superheroes (two boys and a girl) defeat villains and convey great messages while exhibiting good manners, acknowledging their own wrongdoings, fixing problems and learning from mistakes. I like this show's high quality Chinese translation and voice over, another favorite of our own preschool children.  

Chinese learning superpower: All of the PJ Masks episodes in our playlist come with Simplified Chinese subtitles--try occasionally pausing the show and pointing these out to your child to see if they recognize any! Focus on just one or two at a time. ;)

Warning: The show intends to entertain rather than to educate, but I do like all the positive messages the superheros present. 

"Parents need to know that PJ Masks is a preschool series that centers on three young superheroes who fight crime at night and live otherwise normal lives during the day. The stories are rich with examples of positive social behavior, from thinking before you act to making and accepting apologies when they're warranted. The heroes rely on teamwork to foil the villains' plans, and the bad guys often trip up because they're being selfish or mean". -Commonsense Media

4. 宝宝巴士 (bǎo bǎo bā shì, BabyBus)

First aired: 2015

Country origin: China

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitle: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

YouTube Video quality: High

YouTube Playlists:

宝宝巴士 BabyBus Simplified Chinese Subtitle 简体中文字幕

宝宝巴士 BabyBus Troditional Chinese Subtitle 繁体中文字幕

Why we recommend: In this Chinese original animated series created for preschoolers, the two panda characters 奇奇 (qí qí) and 妙妙 (miào miào) take children to explore language, art, science,  community and safety tips through nursery rhymes, children's songs and stories. Although I personally didn't find the storytelling most compelling or the artistic style most attractive, my son loves watching the show, and I have heard abundant positive reviews and recommendations from parents. As one of the most successful animated series produced in China for children age 2 to 5,  BabyBus's English version on YouTube has attracted over 8 million subscribers in the short few years the show has been created--that's only 1.5 million less subscribers than Sesame Street's YouTube Channel!

My favorite feature of  BabyBus is their large collection of Chinese nursery rhyme songs: 500 and counting. Those animated nursery songs are better made than most other Chinese nursery rhymes you may find on the Internet.  For very young children, music speaks louder than words!  Sing and dance with the characters while learning basic concepts (colors, numbers...). BubyBus is especially suitable for young children who have just started to learn basic Chinese phrases and expressions. 

Chinese learning superpower: BabyBus comes with a number of special episodes: 奇妙汉字 (Qí Miào Hàn Zì, Magic Chinese Charactersthat introduces everyday Simplified Chinese words and phrases through stories! 

All the BabyBus episodes in our playlist come with subtitles in Simplified or Traditional Chinese. 

If you use an Apple ios mobile device, there are two BabyBus Apps that may be great supplements to the Babybus YouTube channel. Both of them are in simplified Chinese. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the Android version of these Apps in Google Play's app store, but, if you have found it please let me know! 

宝宝巴士 (bǎo bǎo bā shì, BabyBus) App

This free App organizes and plays a large number of BabyBus animations and nursery rhymes. Since the entire App is in Chinese, you will have to know basic Chinese to be able to navigate the app. 

宝宝学汉字-国际版 (bǎo bǎo xué hàn zì-guó jì bǎn, Baby Learning Chinese Characters-international version).

As a reward for "being good", my boys have occasionally been allowed to play this free App. It is supposed to teach children simplified Chinese characters through video games. Although I worry that my kids pay too much attention to the video games in the app, I'm willing to put up with it for the “supplementary” Chinese character learning benefit. Both my 4-year-old and 9-year-old love this App. It is one of the better Chinese character teaching Apps (stay tuned for my future blog about Chinese learning Apps). With the English prompts in the App, my boys have no problem navigating the game. They eagerly go through the character learning lessons in anticipation of some “trash monster” invading the "Chinese Character Base"!  

I hope these four great animated series will keep your preschooler engaged and immersed in an ocean of fun Chinese! Stay tuned for my future blog recommending our favorite YouTube Chinese shows for school aged children.  

Did you find this post helpful? Is there anything else you would like us to write about? Do you know of other good resources for preschoolers learning Chinese? If so, please like, comment, or share this post with others. (Your email address will not be published with your comment below)

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Thanks for reading!

Happy learning,

Christine

 

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