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As Nora said in her article about Reality TV Shows, it’s easier and more productive to use reality tv or a Chinese game show to improve your Mandarin because they often use more natural and everyday language, making it easier to follow and understand. Not only are reality TV and Chinese game shows great for this reason, but they also demonstrate language ‘in action’.
Sometimes when learning new vocabulary, it’s hard to know how and when to actually use it correctly and naturally in a sentence, unless you actually hear it used in ‘real life’. If you’re not in China, then these kind of shows will give you a good idea of how to use your Chinese as native Chinese people do!
I accidentally came across the Chinese game show “快乐大本营” (kuài lè dà běn yíng) Happy Camp, last year and literally ended up watching hours upon hours of it! I didn’t understand everything, but I found the cheesy-ness of the show to be amusing and endearing. Coming from someone who’s really not that into Chinese TV, this show got me involved and made me WANT to know what was going on. I found myself reading along with the subtitles (the ones I could read) and desperately trying to work out what had happened that had made them laugh so much! Something that I used to find obnoxious about Chinese game shows was the use of onscreen ‘Hahas’ and sad faces that look like they’ve been drawn onto the screen by a child. However, once I started to watch, I realized that actually, these were really helpful to gain some perspective about what the heck was going on in the show. They act as suggested reactions; if you see an exclamation point, that must mean something shocking has happened! I’m not sure what exactly that implies about the show’s intended audience, but instead of finding them a nuisance, they became a friendly guide to help me watch a game show in a language I was definitely not comfortable with.
So that’s my go to game show! It’s a bit odd and kooky, which suits me down to the ground!
However, since we all like something a little bit different, here’s a list of 10 other Chinese game shows that might just get you more interested in Chinese TV and also (as an added bonus), help you with your Chinese learning!
Which Chinese Game Show Will You Choose?
- 为她而战 (wèi tā ér zhàn) Fight for Her
- 非诚勿扰 (fēi chéng wù rǎo) If You Are The One
- 我看你有戏 (wǒ kàn nǐ yǒu xì) Hidden Energy
- 你正常吗? (nǐ zhèng cháng ma?) Are you Normal?
- 出彩中国人 (chū cǎi zhōng guó rén) Amazing Chinese
- 最美和声 (zuì měi hé shēng) Duets
- 一站到底 (yī zhàn dào dǐ) Who’s Still Standing?
- 中国汉字听写大会 (zhōng guó hàn zì tīng xiě dà huì) Chinese Characters Dictation Competition
- 中国好歌曲 (zhōng guó hǎo gē qǔ) Sing my Song
- 舞林争霸 (wǔ lín zhēng bà) So You Think You Can Dance?
Game Type: Challenge
12 star couples take part in the game and take part in numerous challenges. One of the couples will place a bet based on if they know each other well enough to complete the task well or not. There’s tension and humor as the games test the rapport and trust between the couples.
Watch the show on iqiyi: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrhaykgp.html?vfm=2008_aldbd
Game Type: Dating
Similar to UK Game show ‘Take Me Out’
Put 24 picky ladies and 1 thick skinned man on TV and you get a somewhat sadistic Chinese game show which gives 24 single women the opportunity to decide whether they like a guy based on a few questions and, most obviously, looks. After each round, they turn off their lights and by the end of the show there is one woman left (hopefully) who wants to go out with the guy.
Take a look at the literal translation of the title ‘非诚勿扰‘!
Watch the show on iqiyi: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrguakdx.html?vfm=2008_aldbd
Similar Chinese show: 非常完美
Game Type: Talent show
Similar to American’s Got Talent/Britain’s Got Talent
There are 4 advisers, usually famous actors or directors, including Jackie Chan – DUANG~ who watch and judge as participants demonstrate their “talents”. Afterwards, the 4 judges pick the students they like and help them start their careers.
Watch the show on iqiyi: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrhawvlp.html?vfm=2008_aldbd
Similar Chinese show: 欢乐喜剧人
Game Type: Trivia
Similar to Family Fortunes
One Chinese star works alongside members of the audience to answer 8 questions. The answers of these questions have already been chosen by netizens (online users), so it’s a game of chance. If the participant’s answer is the same as the netizen’s, then they win.
Watch the show on qq: http://v.qq.com/detail/1/11173.html
Game Type: Talent show
Similar to American’s Got Talent/ Britain’s Got Talent
Everyday people, including children, show off their talents to a star panel who decide whether their talent is good enough to become professional. Learn something about Chinese culture, including Chinese music and dancing.
Watch the show on iqiyi: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrhb05jd.html?vfm=2008_aldbd
Similar Chinese show: 中国梦想秀
Game Type: Singing Talent Show
Based on American show, Duets
Similarly to the American version of Duets, famous singers find talented proteges to sing a ‘duet’ with onstage.
Similar Chinese show: 中国好声音 (zhōng guó hǎo shēng yīn) The Voice of China, which is very popular in China.
Game Type: Trivia
Based on American Israeli game show Who’s Still Standing?
One competitor goes up against 10 challengers to answer questions correctly. If either of the sides gets the question wrong, they fall through the trapdoor.
Watch the show on iqiyi: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrguabs9.html?vfm=2008_aldbd
Game Type: Educational
Two Teams of young students go head to head in a tense battle of character meaning, pronunciation and writing skills! Perfect for students of Chinese who want something different and interesting to test their Chinese!
Sadly it seems that this show only lasted two seasons, but well worth a watch!
Similar to spelling bees hosted in the USA.
Game Type: Singing Talent
A ‘reality talent’ show that focuses on music creation rather than on singing. Unlike most of China’s other singing talent shows, the participants must compose the music for their performances. The contestants have to complete 3 phases, after which four music producers choose the best performer.
Watch the show on sohu: http://tv.sohu.com/s2014/zghgqdej/
Game Type: Dancing
Contestants perform in front of several judges who then decide who should continue to the next round. Each week the contestants are narrowed down and need to perform different styles of dance in order to win over the judges.
Watch the show on sohu: http://tv.sohu.com/s2013/wlzb2013/
If you have another Chinese game show that you’d like to share with us, please leave it below in the comments box. Tell us what you like about it and how it’s improved your Chinese!
If you enjoyed this post, take a look at 10 Chinese TV Shows to Help You Learn Mandarin
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