Yuck!!!!! Ewwww!!!! I can hear the groans of parents everywhere. Yes, Teletubbies are our favorite. Why do we love the Teletubbies? The answer is simple - would you like to start your toddler or pre-schooler on the road to speaking Mandarin without pulling you hair out, having them rip the keys off your laptop or break the IPad?
What you really need are basic sentences, presented in a meaningful context that you and your child can understand by watching while you listen. Books, apps, cds and other products that teach lists of words can accomplish only that - lists of words. Products made for older kids can't hold the attention of very young children.
If you have a toddler you know they are very special. Your life revolves around trying to get them to do things you can't make them do - learn to use the potty, eat, say words, go to sleep when you are exhausted. In general, they've turned your adult world up-side down and you may feel that they are in control, not you. How will you introduce a second or third language? Easy, give in and use something designed especially for the 2 year old brain - Teletubbies.
Chinese Teletubbies, unlike their English counterparts, speak clearly without all that baby talk babble. Teletubbies are perfect for beginning level learners. At Chinese for Families we have transcribed most episodes. Contact us for more information and special classes for young children.
If you have a child between the ages of 1 and 4, Teletubbies will give you a few moments of peace, engage your child in a language rich environment designed especially for them, and provide just the right amount of repetition. As an added bonus, you will learn too. Give it a try. We think you will fall in love with the Teletubbies the way we have - well maybe you won't name your car Xiao Po. I did.
Now, not all Teletubbies episodes are created equal. There are some that just don't meet the threshold of content you can understand by watching while you listen. Our recommended DVD/VCDs are:
Here come the Teletubbies
Animals Big & Small
Happy Weather Stories
Hide & Seek
Go & Let's Dance
Uh Oh Messes & Muddles
We don't like these Teletubby DVDs:
Dance with the Teletubbies, Happy Christmas, Nursery Rhymes.
These tapes have one or more issues that make them unsuitable for language learning: a lack of Mandarin audio (either too much English or too much of another language) and/or a lack of visuals that correspond with the audio track.
There are a number of new Teletubby titles but we have not yet seen them and therefore cannot comment. However, we would LOVE to see them.
The challenge is finding a store to buy Chinese Teletubbies. YesAsia.com has Teletubby DVDs (region 3) from Taiwan and provide high quality authentic DVDs. Video stores in Chinatowns also may carry Teletubbies. Be certain to ask if they have Mandarin audio, not just subtitles. If you have friends visiting China, Taiwan or Hong Kong, ask them to pick up copies for you. VCDs are a less expensive format that will enable you play the video without having a multi-region player.
Stay tuned for our next installment in the video learning realm - Miffy & Pororo.