How many words do you knew,when you begin to understand Tv Drama in Chinese?

When you begin to understand Tv Drama(or similar) without/with subtitle in Chinese(Mandarin), how many words do you knew?

I want to know your experience!

I attempted watching common romance Tv Dramas with a 90% understanding at about 30,000 words. I still need more but it was great to know about the progress made.

I really couldn’t follow along with anything before I had crammed in 2-3k hanzi and had been reading native materials in LingQ for months. A big thing to mention is the amount of idioms you need to learn, I started collecting 成语 and reviewing them in Anki that’s helped a lot. (青梅竹马,
孤男寡女, 打情骂俏, 男女授受不亲 are in every single drama, so learn those first.)

Just be aware that it’s a process and it highly depends on what you are watching and comprehension can vary widely scene to scene. Highly political / wuxia / modern shows that have educated characters can still be very difficult to understand what’s going on.

I’ve watched a lot of romance, and the easiest to follow along after about about 20k-30k LingQs were youth dramas. I highly recommend shows like Sparkle Love 《心动的瞬间》(Sparkle Love (2020) - MyDramaList) as it had simpler dialogue that was easier to grasp.

If you love watching Chinese dramas and keep reading every day progress will happen, just be patient!


I second the previous comments, somewhere around the “Advanced 2” stage on LingQ I started to understand more than a few words (also true for languages other than Chinese). But I would say, more important than the number of words is the amount of time you have been exposed to colloquial language, for example podcasts or regular folks talking on YouTube. Those are better preparation than, let’s say Xi Jinping speeches. In terms of hours something like 700 to 1000 hours of listening sound reasonable.
Of course the usual tricks to make the content more comprehensible apply as well, like watching a dubbed movie you have seen in your native language, reading plot summaries and Wikipedia articles on that show etc.

There is already a lengthy thread on the topic of subtitles (, but Chinese subtitles help me tremendously.