Friday, June 15, 2012

Can Barnie teach you Chinese Mandarin?

Can you put your child in front of a television and find that after a month or two that he has started speaking a new language?  Dora the explorer, Thomas the Train and the Berenstein Bears can all be found in Mandarin.  Could they teach your child the intricacies of the language.  Unlikely, I do not believe that television can be used to teach a second language like Chinese Mandarin but I do think it can be beneficial in the following ways:

*  Becoming familiar with the sound of the language and real time talking
A lot of programs that teach you a second language, speak at a speed which is beneficial for learning but is not the speed with which most native Chinese people speak.  Watching television in Mandarin will give you a far more realistic awareness of the language and what Mandarin sounds like by a native speaker.
*  Practise
Writing Chinese characters, learning Pinyin and vocabulary can all be practised.  This is especially relevant when you use television programs aimed at little children as the presentation is far simpler and easier to understand.
*  Fun
Ever tried to watch the Lion King in Chinese?  It can be both entertaining and fun, especially if your children know the story in English.  We have had some really funny moments listening to Simba speaking with in Mandarin.

I also find that the children get tired of doing the same programs every day (even if you alternate them), adding a bit of telly seems to bring the language to life
*  Culture
Part of our language study includes culture.  We have done some cooking, some social studies and some online research into the Chinese culture. Language cannot exist without the understanding of the culture too.  We might not always understand the language but the understanding of the culture, will definitely help you to navigate in certain situations.

So don't expect the likes of Barnie or Thomas the Train to do the hard work for you but it certainly will make a difference in your child's language learning and they will enjoy it even more.

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