Sunday, December 09, 2007

Where is Dora the Explorer for Chinese?

YouTube - Culture Cubs

Maybe I shouldn't even make this comparison. Dora the Explorer is certainly Spanish-lite and not necessarily a good teaching tool. The rush to teach Chinese is hardly subsiding across the world and in the United States. However, while it seems that many parents, educators, and even the government are on board, instructional materials are lacking.

Where are the quality instructional materials for learning Chinese, especially for children? Do they cost too much to produce? Possibly. But, come on, if we can't do it cheaply in China with Chinese, where can we do it. I would love to see a company get its foot in the door in this area. I see nothing but growth in this area in the coming decades. If done right, you could just modify the script for any language that you want to teach to. Sending it to France? Change it from English to French. It would just take a couple studio hours to record the French speaker.

A friend of mine recently sent me this video that is a fun introduction to some words in Chinese (Mandarin), though it could just as easily be for Mandarin speakers learning English. I think that it's a great production. If used in conjunction with other materials and possibly a teacher (online or face-to-face), it could be extremely motivating and effective.

Imagine a program like this that grew with students. They could start with the basics and advance as their students advanced. They could go beyond vocabulary learning and branch into learning culture, critical literacy, and so forth. A program like this would cost to start, but the long tail on something like this would provide revenue for many, many years. Not to mention, the first ones into the schools will stay in the schools.

Now that I'm talking about it, I wonder if I could carry it out. Unfortunately, I lack both the production abilities for this sort of animation and the Chinese speakers. Oh, well. I hope that this gives one of you the impetus to check it out.



Anonymous said...

Glad that you liked the clip Dan. :)

Yeah. I have been thinking about the issue you mentioned, too, i.e., having different language versions of good educational programs to help kids to learn languages.

Since my 2.5-year-old is crazily addicted to Thomas Tank Engine, I have been particularly wondering why the Thomas series company has not put their feet in the huge Chinese market yet...

In case you are interested, there is Chinese version of Teletubbies already. Here is a clip that someone uploaded to show how it looks like in Chinese TV. :)

Dan said...

Thanks for stopping in.

These programs would be great to translate, but I'd like more than that. When I referenced Dora the Explorer, it was because of their focus on both English and Spanish in the program. While I'd consider Dora Spanish-light for young learners, at least there is an effort to teach the language in a way that is entertaining for learners.

Another interesting approach could be in the annotation of existing programming. There are now services like Asterpix that enable anyone to annotate videos available on many video sharing sites.

I think that it would be a great boon to educational programming if we could do this with a greater variety of titles. You can use it to provide more information, to create interactive exercises, to do comprehension checks, and so forth.


From French to Japanese said...

Your blog is great! Very informative! We will be sure to link to you!

Judy and Harold

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