Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Watching Chinese Movies to Learn Chinese

Throughout the years, many Chinese teachers have told me that Chinese movies help students learn the language. Based on this advice, I decided to carry some Chinese movies, yet not many teachers ordered them. I really don’t know if I responded to requests that may not appeal to most teachers or students in general, or if I got the wrong films or if the prices are not right. Can you let me know?

Drawing from my personal experience, when I ask my son, who is bilingual in Chinese and English, to watch Disney films, Chinese TV or DVDs in Chinese both here in the US and when we are back in China, it turns out that he either tries to switch the DVD into English or is not interested in watching them. When asked why, he said he didn’t understand most of them and it was not "fun"! So I gave up pressing him to watch Chinese movies.

The exception came last August, when we were in China and watching a TV program called “Jia You Er Nu” (Home with Kids). My son was glued to the television set and did not want to do anything else. He watched this series non-stop and even I began watching with him too. I found myself hooked on the show too. When I asked him why he liked the series, he said it was really fun and he could relate to the topics that the children on the show were talking about.

The question that I kept tossing around in my head was why he didn’t relate to Disney films, but understood Jia You Er Nu? It puzzled me, but then I realized the stories and the daily life around this family are current day situations and somehow relate to my son’s life. The moral of this story is simple: find a story that a child can relate to and you have a loyal audience for your show.

I set out to look for other films, cartoons and movies that children might relate to.

Although it is a website for designers who specialize in flash animation, the animations posted on that site are really fun and easy to understand. Each animation is not that long, so it is great for students who know limited Chinese or don’t have much time to finish longer films. (Chinese YouTube)
Another great site like YouTube where people can post all different kinds of videos that they make themselves. Short and fun, students learn Chinese but also get a great glimpse of what life in China is like.

Can you recommend any websites or movies that you think will help students learn Chinese?



Beach Mama said...

For what it is worth, my daughter is 3 years old. She has enjoyed the "Follow Jade" and "MeiMei" DVDs. I recently purchased a "Dora the Explorer" in Chinese and she will watch it. I think for a preschool child, any video that is common in the US (Dora, Diego, Wonderpets, etc.) will be something that they will watch because they are familiar with the programs. "Ni Hao Kai-Lan" will be issuing a DVD out later this summer. My daughter loves this show as well.

As an adult, I enjoy watching movies in Chinese with the English subtitles on. That way I can still follow the story while listening in Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Such a great method of learning Chinese. Watching Chinese to learn Chinese is a nice method. I also find this method easy.

Learn to speak Chinese said...

I agree with this idea. I had learned English by watching a lot of English movie, it also works for people who want to learn Chinese.

Chinese China said...

I find many are epic/historic Chinese movies, do you have a list of movies you would recommend to learn chinese? The one I found are already hard to follow if you don't know Chinese history well...