One of my strongest wishes as a parent is to have my sons learn a different language. I am not saying Spanish (even though it is tough enough as it trying to teach it to Rock and X). Ideally the language they would learn would be Chinese (more specifically Mandarin, not to be confused with Cantonese). I can already see the currents changing from the traditional languages taught at school (French and Spanish) to more exotic languages, and at the forefront in Chinese. I wish we could put in the effort that everyone else in China is putting toward learning English. Right now, all state employees younger than 40 are required to know 1,000 English phrases and all children start learning English in kindergarten. It is about time we start catching up!
The thing is neither D nor I can speak the language. So we are forced to use the other tools at our disposal. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to try out a new app from Disney, Learn Chinese: Toy Story 3. This app basically reads to the child Toy Story 3, inserting words in Chinese through the story.
Check out D and Rock trying it out.
Using the controls from the app the D and I are able to increase the number of words in Chinese. This is called the Diglot Method, in which a story is told in partially the native language of the user and partly in the language being taught. As the learner’s understanding increases a larger percentage of the story is put in the foreign language. Eventually the whole story will then be read in the foreign language (or in our case Chinese!).
The real key to this method is repetition, so it helps to have a story you love. Thankfully, we are a big Toy Story house. The story is basically told with no animations, though there is music and sound effect. The words appear on the screen as well and allow the user to tap a word to hear pronunciations. In addition, there are handy audio and visual translations of individual words as well as a feature which allow you to record your voice to compare to the pronunciations of the narrator.
The app is available in the ITunes store all across the world and is available for only the Ipad for $4.99.
Disclaimer: We received a review code to try out the app. This post represents my unbiased opinion.