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7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Chinese as a Busy Parent

Improve your Chinese as a busy parent, is that even possible?

Although it may feel daunting trying to add language learning on top of everything else on your todo list, here are 7 easy and fun ways to do just that!

When we moved back to America from Taiwan, I switched from speaking English to to Mandarin Chinese with our daughter.

I wasn’t sure if I was saying things correctly most of the time. The once easy normal everyday conversations with our daughter felt challenging and awkward.

Chinese for parenting

On top of it all, I was having a hard time disciplining our daughter in Chinese without slipping into the harsh phrases I heard growing up. 

I knew I needed to be intentional in learning more gentle parenting phrases in Mandarin Chinese but how to go about it when my time is limited?

The key I discovered is making the learning fun and doable for myself as a parent by consistently learning in short spurts.

The great news is that I am no longer a student at weekend Chinese school so I have the freedom to find fun and sustainable ways to build the vocabulary I need as a parent.

Below are the fun resources I found to bolster my Mandarin Chinese that aligns with my language goals.

I mostly take around 15-30 minutes each time I “learn”, one to two times a week listening or watching to the following resources while I’m doing chores around the house or while I’m getting ready so it’s manageable for me.

I hope these resources help you in your Chinese bilingual parenting journey! 


1. Watch Chinese Shows with Parent Child Interaction to Improve Your Chinese as a Busy Parent

In my mind, watching a show is the easiest way for busy parents to improve your Chinese. I mean I can sit back relax after a long day, enjoy a show and improve my Chinese at the same time. What more can a mom ask for? 

I noticed my parenting Chinese improved after watching parent child interactions in the Taiwanese drama Autumn Concerto (下一站幸福)on Netflix (it’s also available on Viki)

Another great one is Bluey on Disney+. It’s available in both Mandarin and Cantonese.

(*spoiler alert) In the second half of the show, there’s quite a bit of interaction between the mom and her son. 

Other Chinese Shows with Parent-Child Interaction

妈妈是超人/Mommy is Superwoman

This is a fun reality show that follows Chinese/Taiwanese celebrity moms interacting with their children. I was able to pick up a lot of very useful phrases through this one. 


爸爸去哪儿/Where Did Daddy Go?

Another reality show following celebrity dads as they go on adventures with their children. This would be perfect for dads! 

2. Buy Chinese Reference Books Teaching English Parenting Terms

When my husband was learning Chinese, he bought English learning reference books written in Chinese. Since we were living in Taiwan at the time, there were way more English learning reference books available.  

When faced with the dilemma of picking up more Chinese parenting terms I was unfamiliar with, I did the same.

There are a TON of books to help Chinese native speakers learn English parenting terms. These are perfect because they’re intended to help Chinese native speakers teach their kids English or adjust to living overseas in an western environment. 

There are a wide variety to choose from. I ordered two from books.com.tw. One is more simple (on the right, title: 每天五分鐘親子英文)and the other more complex (title: 美國家庭親子英文).  

Chinese parenting vocab
Chinese parenting vocab
Chinese parenting vocab

I like how both books are organized into different social contexts and western holidays as well. 

Both books come with a CD-Rom of MP3s but sadly it’s all in English. The downside of these books is that they don’t include pinyin or zhuyin since they’re intended for native speakers.

Click here to find all that’s available on books.com.tw/博客來. There are LOTS to choose from.

Below are sample pages from the more simple book. Please excuse my paint stained fingers. I’ve been painting our trim :P. 

Chinese parenting vocab
Chinese parenting vocab
Chinese parenting vocab

3. Buy Chinese Translation of Parenting Books that Align with Your Values

If you’re comfortable with reading Chinese, then another thing you can do to pick up Chinese parenting vocab is to purchase Chinese translation of English parenting books that you like. 

These books will include lots of helpful parenting terms such as what to say when you’re correcting or redirecting your child. 

You can find them by simply typing in the name of the author or title in English then add the characters, 中文 in google search. 

You can also do the same on books.com.tw. I was able to find two books I plan on purchasing and reading through this method:

Some other popular parenting titles available in Chinese:

4. Watch Mandarin Talk Shows on Parenting

Another easy way to pick up Chinese parenting vocab is through watching shows that teach on parenting in Chinese.

Below are a few I’ve found helpful and entertaining.

叫我神隊友

This new Taiwanese show starring basketball player/celebrity dad 黑人/Blackie Chen with twin boys. He’s married to Fan Fan, a well-known Taiwanese singer.

In the show, celebrity parents discuss various (often entertaining) topics. It’s a fun show to watch.

媽媽好神

Another similar Taiwanese show to check out is 媽媽好神, hosted by a well known pediatrician. 

王宏哲談教養

A Taiwanese parenting channel with experts and pediatricians giving helpful advice. 

I like their five minute quick parenting tips series. They’re nice and concise. 

Even though your parenting style may differ, this would be a great way to pick up some Chinese parenting terms.

Danny Silk: Loving Our Kids on Purpose Conference at Bread of Life Taipei

Danny Silk is an author and teacher who focuses on teaching Christian parenting techniques rooted in love and logic.

He’s my go to for parenting my daughter right now. I love how he focuses on teaching parenting to train children how to use the freedom they have while they’re in your home to prepare them for their future.

He also focuses on helping parents cultivate a loving relationship with their children.  

I can’t say enough good things about him. 

親子天下 Parenting World

There are many great videos to choose from 親子天下’s YouTube channel. They’re a Taiwanese Parenting magazine that shares lots of great content created for parents. 

5. Watch Chinese Dramas

Watching dramas is a fun and easy way to improve your Chinese as a busy (and oftentimes tired) parent.

Here are some my husband and I enjoyed. All are available on Netflix.

Recent updated version of the 90s classic that took Asia by storm.

Featuring the same main actress as the new Meteor Garden, “A Love So Beautiful” is a sweet coming of age love story.

Funny and laid back romantic comedy 

Some other fun Chinese dramas:

  • Yong-jiu Grocery Store: one of me and my husband’s favorite show! Free on Viki to watch. (Taiwanese Drama)
  • Love 020 (The movie. The drama was just ok): gamers fall in love with each other in real life (Chinese Drama)
  • Find Yourself: older woman falls in love with a younger man entertaining romantic comedy (Chinese Drama)
  • Somewhere Only We Know: smart college girl falls in love with her TA (Chinese Drama)
  • Perfect Match: two very different chefs fall in love. The ending was disappointing but the story up to the ending was good (Taiwanese Drama)
  • Single Ladies Senior: love life of older single ladies. Great story with a terribly disappointing ending. (Taiwanese Drama)
  • Life Plan A & B: Girl discovers what happens when she chooses between career and family (Taiwanese Drama)

6. Listen to Chinese Parenting Podcasts

Here are some fun podcasts to either learn Chinese or to help beef it up while entertaining you.

Lily, a Taiwanese occupational therapist mom of two interviews various parenting experts in a a low key and fun way. 

This is my favorite podcast. It’s super relatable, entertaining and educational.

Mandarin speaking moms of Silicon Valley share their stories and interview interesting people of various backgrounds. 

They have a fun episode on raising their kids bilingual and other episodes focused on parenting that would be useful.

Podcast created by the publishers of well known Taiwanese parenting magazine with the same name.

Covers many relatable and helpful parenting topics.

7. Follow Parenting Influencers from Asia

Most of us are already on social media, why not follow Mandarin speaking parenting influencers?

Here are two that I enjoy following. They’re both fun and down to earth.

Super popular and adorable family of six. The mom is Taiwanese and used to be a fashion influencer. The dad is Italian-Zimbabwean. I love watching their daily adventures. Plus, most of their videos are bilingual. The parents will switch back and forth from English to Mandarin. There’s also Chinese subtitles to help you improve your Chinese reading skills.

They also have a YouTube channel

This cute Taiwanese family of five share their daily lives and all the trouble their kids get into. The parents used to be in a band and a song they wrote went viral.

Lots of great and fun content to help you improve your parenting Mandarin vocabulary!

They’re also on YouTube.

I hope these 7 simple ways of improving your Chinese as a busy parent helps! 


If so, please share it so other parents can see this too!


Remember, the key is consistency. So keep it fun and doable for yourself so learning is manageable and not overwhelming or burdensome.

Further Reading

Chinese Learning Resources

5 Responses

  1. Hi there! Such a helpful article! Would you be able to please write the titles of the two parenting books under number 2 in the text of the article? Just so I can copy it and paste it into a search bar. I don’t read write or speak Chinese but I’m planning to learn soon for my son and would like to start with these parenting phrases. Thank you!

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Sunny

Hi, I’m Sunny, bilingual mama, teaching my kids Mandarin Chinese in a monolingual context. Thanks for stopping by! I use my teaching background and experience teaching my kids to simplify your family’s Chinese learning journey so it’s sustainable and one that the whole family enjoys. I’m so glad you’re here!

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