Surprising Discovery on Teaching Chinese Culture and Language

Hubby and I recently started watching a Chinese series called “Journey to the West“. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this series depicts the Chinese legend of the Monkey God. Here’s a short excerpt of what it’s about:

Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It was written by Wu Cheng’en in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty. The novel is a fictionalised account of the legendary pilgrimage to India of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, and loosely based its source from the historic text Great Tang Records on the Western Regions and traditional folk tales. The monk travelled to the “Western Regions” during the Tang Dynasty, to obtain sacred texts (s?tras). The bodhisattva Avalokite?vara (Guanyin), on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins.”

And here’s the preview:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbxPWChoYo

Although it began as light entertainment for hubby and I, Aristotle has taken quite an interest in the series and enjoys watching it, too. At first, hubby suggested we let him watch with us so he could learn a little about the Chinese culture. When hubby was a child, he read the English translations for some of the Chinese Classics – Journey to the West being one and Romance of the Three Kingdoms (a historical account of the Chinese history beginning at the end of the Han dynasty) being another.

Since Aristotle enjoys reading, it was always my intention for him to read some of the more popular classics in literature. Journey to the West being a piece of classical Chinese literature, it would certainly add more roundedness to his literary knowledge. If you’re interested in the full text for this novel, you can download a free copy of it on pdf.

Journey to the West, the series, is recorded in Mandarin (not a strong point for Aristotle), but his ability to read the subtitles have allowed him to enjoy the series along with us without having to pester us too much about what is going on. The other surprising benefit of his watching this series is his increased interest in Mandarin – a language I had given up on teaching Aristotle because of his lack of interest in learning it. Recently, I heard him babbling in the car with Mandarin sounds.

When babies are first learning to talk, they begin with babble. Initially, it is mostly nonsense sounds without meaning. As the babble matures, you will notice a lot of sounds unique to the language you speak most often. This is the preparatory stage for them before they begin to use real words. I am hoping, therefore, that Aristotle’s Mandarin babble might be the foundation to his finally learning to speak the language. At the very least, perhaps he will pay more attention in Mandarin class at school and pick up more than the occasional word or two.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Surprising Discovery on Teaching Chinese Culture and Language

  1. http://www.timesbookstores.com.my/worldbookdaymy/default.aspx

    Gavin may like the 3 Chinese stories (books are in English) on the left of the catalog. Elyssa doesn’t like Chinese but found the books interesting.

    Found this Chinese Independent Bookstore in Petaling Street, EU-EE by accident last Sunday after church. They have a few books teaching beginners Mandarin. Helpful for me as I can’t really read except for a few characters. There are also a few other interesting books, some bilingual, mostly chinese though. Sale is on, members get 30% off.

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    1. Thank you! That’s terrific! I will definitely have to go check it out! Pity they don’t have Journey to the West because that’s the one he identifies with the most right now…

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  2. I had downloaded many free Monkey God voice-over series for my daughter last year, I highly recommend anyone who wishes to encourage young child to learn Chinese language to get a copy of that.

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