Both of my kids study Mandarin at school or playgroup and I try to reinforce their Chinese language learning at home. One of my key methods is making very silly jokes about 屁股 “pigu” (“butts”) in Mandarin. A six-year-old can suddenly remember the Chinese names of many, many animals when she is talking about their butts.
I’ve just found another tool: “乐乐 Elmo” (“Fun Fun Elmo”), a Mandarin language program for young children made by Sesame Street Workshop.
The cool thing about this show is that it’s entirely in simple Mandarin Chinese, so it gives young children an immersion experience. Very unlike (and much more useful than) “Ni Hao Kai Lan” which, while cute, is almost entirely in English with a few Chinese words tossed in.
Each nine-minute-episode includes:
- Welcome song.
- Introduction to the character of the day using “Tone Cube Dim Sum,” color-coded tone markings to reinforce pronunciation. I plan to crib the method.
- “神秘文字“ (”Mystery Character”) presented by Guy Smiley. Please watch one episode just to hear how endearing his name is in Mandarin.
- A clip of children in China talking about where they live and other aspects of their life.
- Goodbye song.
Interested? Here is a list of episodes with direct links to the videos on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel:
Episode 1 The character 一 (one).
Episode 2 The character 二 (two).
Episode 3 The character 三 (three).
Episode 4 The character 四 (four).
Episode 5 The character 五 (five).
Episode 6 The character 汤 (soup).
Episode 7 The character 饭 (food/rice).
Episode 8 The character 茶 (tea).
Episode 9 The character 水 (water).
Episode 10 The character 花 (flower).
Episode 11 The character 云 (cloud).
Episode 12 The character 河 (river).
Episode 13 The character 山 (mountain).