Chinese Channels on Roku: A Mandarin Companion in Your Learning Journey

Chinese Channels on Roku: A Mandarin Companion in Your Learning Journey

Ever heard of the Roku channel? If you have one, you'd know the endless channels out there.

Of course, there are some free Chinese channels on Roku for you. From local mainland Chinese television to dramas and exclusive Mandarin channels, you can find all the shows you need to help you on your Mandarin learning journey.

So sit back and relax to see the top 5 Chinese channels on Roku that any non-native speakers of Chinese can tune to.

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What is Roku?

Roku is a convenient and cost-effective way to convert any TV to a smart TV. With a Roku device, you just need an internet connection to stream your favorite channels or use the most popular streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, etc.

Best Chinese channels on Roku

Let's look at the best Chinese channels available on Roku, so you can start learning Chinese with Roku today!

1. Chinese Zone

Search for "Chinese Zone" on Roku to install this app that will make your life easier by allowing you to watch free Chinese movies and TV shows in other apps and saving you the trouble of searching.

Chinese Zone logo on Roku

Chinese Zone channel logo on Roku

This app has categories for Mandarin and Cantonese, movies, dramas, kids' content, and variety shows, and it can also install other Chinese apps. It is a must-have app for watching Chinese programs on Roku.

2. ACTV Mandarin

The Asian Culture Alliance operates ACTV. This Mandarin television channel provides live streaming of Chinese news, movies, and music programs from Chinese tv. Some of them have English subtitles.

ACTV Mandarin also has a live channel that has live-stream videos 24/7.

ACTV Mandarin on Roku

Browsing on ACTV Mandarin Channel on Roku

It has mixed reviews, with some users praising its content selection while others have criticized the quality of the video and audio. But as a Chinese learner, I'm sure you will find something that suits your taste in ACTV Mandarin.

3. AsianCrush

AsianCrush is the No. 1 Asian streaming app you can download from the Roku store. You'll be able to find all sorts of movies and series coming from mainland China, with both English and Chinese subtitles.

AsianCrush logo on Roku

AsianCrush logo on Roku

Reviews on AsianCrush on Roku are generally positive for the content's variety and quality. The large selection of films and shows (classic and contemporary titles) with English and Chinese subtitles makes it super accessible to anyone.

4. China TV

This channel provides streaming versions of over-the-air content from available Chinese TV channels. The channel features Chinese TV shows and news programs, with limited movie and documentary options.

However, China TV has no subtitles, which may make it less appealing to language learners, but perfect if you want to channel yourself.

Additionally, some users have complained about the channel's reliability, but it has received mostly positive reviews overall.

China TV logo on Roku

China TV channel logo on Roku

5. Innovative Language Chinese

This channel is unique because it's like a virtual language course offering video and audio lessons for Chinese learners of all levels, from vocabulary lessons to grammar explanations and cultural insights.

Innovative Language - Chinese on Roku

Example of a lesson on Innovative Language Chinese on Roku

A native Chinese speaker is the teacher of each lesson, and the learner would follow with lesson transcripts and practice exercises.

Many online reviews generally praise the channel for its engaging and practical content and the professional and knowledgeable instructors. They also note that the channel is a great resource for learners who want to improve their listening and speaking skills.

You can add the channel on Roku with this link.

How to watch Chinese channels on Roku

How to watch Chinese channels on Roku

Make sure your Roku device is connected to the internet and is set up properly.

  1. On the Roku home screen, go to the Roku Channel Store.

  2. In the Channel Store, search for any channels in our list below.

  3. Click "Add Channel" for the channels you want to add to your Roku device.

  4. Once the channel is installed, return to Roku's home screen and select the channel to launch it.

  5. Follow the instructions provided by each channel to sign up and/or log in to access the content. Note: Some channels may require a subscription or additional fees.

  6. Once you have access to the content, browse the available options and select the show or movie you want to watch.

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How can watching Chinese tv channels can help you learn Chinese?

Now we will look at the main reasons and ways watching TV in the Chinese language can help you boost your Chinese skills.

1. Practice listening skills.

Watching anything in Chinese, whether or not you're using subtitles, exposes you to speaking Chinese and improves your listening skills both in terms of listening comprehension and pronunciation accuracy.

If you hear a word many times in a show, you'll be likely to pronounce it with the correct tone once it's your turn to use it! Moreover, listening to native speakers can provide a model for correct pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm of the language.

2. Has authentic and natural examples.

Television offers a wealth of authentic language input. Chinese learners, like many other foreign learners, often struggle to find authentic sources of language input outside of real-life interactions.

However, TV shows, news broadcasts, and other programs in the target language can provide a vast range of language input, including different accents, dialects (such as the Beijing dialect or Shanghainese), and speaking styles.

This exposure to real-world language can help you develop a more natural and intuitive understanding of "real Mandarin" and how spoken Mandarin works in real-life situations, which can sometimes be different from what is taught in Chinese textbooks or language apps.

3. Learn about contemporary Chinese culture.

Watching TV can also provide cultural insights and foster cultural understanding. TV programs often reflect the Chinese aesthetics, culture, traditions, and unspoken rules of Chinese society.

By watching TV shows, news, and other programs, you'll have a chance to dig into contemporary Chinese culture in a much more effective way than what you would be able to do by just reading your textbooks.

4. Absorb new Chinese vocabulary.

TV programs on Chinese language channels offer a rich and varied vocabulary, covering various topics and genres.

If you’ve practiced your Chinese vocabulary, then you will recognize and hear new words, funny phrases, and idioms in context, which can aid in understanding and retention.

5. Characters recognition practice.

If you turn on Chinese subtitles, you'll practice character recognition. Maybe you won't be able to read the whole subtitle in time, especially if it's a long sentence. Still, you will be able to recognize at least some of the ones you have learned before and associate with their pronunciation to better fix them in your memory.

To further help you memorize Chinese characters, Pandanese is a useful web software and app to try if you're struggling to remember hanzi. Language experts have handcrafted its curriculum to build your vocabulary with a gentle progression.

You'll find tips on how to remember characters more effectively by associating them with stories or fun facts, and the app is based on the Spaced Repetition System.

6. TV will keep you entertained and make you forget you're learning.

Watching TV to learn Mandarin will greatly enhance your motivation to learn. Maybe, at first, you won't understand anything, but as you keep on practicing, you'll notice you'll start to grasp the meaning of a conversation, and that will keep you motivated, boost your confidence and push you to continue studying.

Furthermore, watching TV in the target language can be a fun and enjoyable way to learn, and you may even forget you're studying!

5 tips on how to use TV to learn Chinese

Here are some tips on how to make sure you're using this powerful resource in the best way possible:

1. Choose appropriate content.

You shall choose TV programs appropriate for your current level. If you are a beginner, you can start by watching children's shows, which are usually simple, and talk at a slower pace. Another idea is to watch cartoons you already know dubbed in Mandarin, so understanding is easier for you since you already know how the story goes.

As you progress, you can gradually move on to more challenging content, such as TV dramas, news programs, or talk shows. It's important to find a balance between engaging and comprehensible content so that you can follow along.

2. Use subtitles according to your level.

If you are a beginner, you can start with English subtitles to be able to understand the content.

As you become more experienced, you can switch to Chinese subtitles or even turn subtitles off completely to challenge yourself. Subtitles can help you associate spoken words with their written form and improve listening skills.

3. Be active.

You don't have to do this every time you watch Chinese tv, but at least for a few minutes, you shall try to actively listen and take notes of some words and sentences you think will be useful.

You can also try to repeat sentences mimicking the intonation and go back to read subtitles when you don't understand something.

4. Supplement with other learning methods.

While TV can be a valuable tool for language learning, it's important to supplement it with other learning methods. Use TV as a complementary resource alongside other language learning materials, such as textbooks, language apps, or speaking/texting with natives.

Combine different approaches to reinforce your language skills, and you'll never get bored of learning!

5. Consistency is key.

It's better to watch Chinese TV for just a few minutes every day than for an hour and then forget about it. Incorporate TV watching into your regular language learning routine, and aim to watch TV programs in Mandarin regularly.

In closing

I hope you found this article useful. Most Chinese channels are available on Roku but vary in different countries.

If you're ready to watch Chinese TV programs on Roku, then add these channels to your list!

Elisa Felici has been studying Chinese since 2014. She started her language-learning journey at Italian universities and lived in Beijing while attending Beijing’s Confucius Institute. Elisa passed HSK 4 and 5 and finally, in 2020, HSK 6. She now has a Master’s degree in translation and interpreting and has experience not only as a language learner but also as a Chinese teacher and translator.

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