All opinions are mine and mine alone.
FYI: Miaomiao provided me 10 Free Access Codes to give away. Please comment on this post why you want the Miaomiao app by Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm PST and I will randomly choose ten lucky folks to receive the access codes!
Alrighty, friends. It’s been about a year since my last 5 Minute Review.
To make up for it today, I will be providing a 3 for 1 deal. I’ll be reviewing:
- A FREE Amazon Prime show perfect for complete Chinese beginners
- An app (for which I have 10 access codes) that is good for both beginners and native speakers
- And a bonus app review that is geared towards older children with VERY high Chinese skill levels.
When it comes to teaching your kids Chinese, everyone’s advice (including mine) is always to have your children watch a Chinese show and POOF! Magically, they’ll become fluent.
Sorry, folks. That’s probably not going to happen.
The reason why I suggest watching Chinese media is to create a Chinese Language Ecosystem, wherein I try to replicate living in a Chinese dominant environment by providing as many things as possible in Chinese.
However, if your children don’t have much exposure to Chinese, watching Chinese shows is probably not going to do much. Studies show that your kids will filter out any language they don’t recognize as gibberish.
What’s a person to do if they want their kids to learn Chinese but either are not native speakers, or are not good enough at the language to provide a consistent Chinese Language Ecosystem?
I’m so pleased you asked! LET ME TELL YOU.
1) Miaomiao TV on Amazon Prime (FREE for Amazon Prime subscribers)
If your family has little to no Chinese fluency, a good way to ease your children into the Chinese language is to have shows that introduce Chinese terms but aren’t fully in Chinese.
The Miaomiao TV series follows little Miaomiao and her animal friends as the encounter obstacles, solve problems, and let the power of friendship win the day. As Miaomiao goes about her adventures, a simple word or phrase in Mandarin Chinese will be introduced and reinforced.
Who is this show for: Preschool-aged and young children (2-5) who have little to no prior knowledge of Chinese.
Cost: FREE for Amazon Prime subscribers
5 Minute Review: This show is DEFINITELY for beginners and small children. The production values are very high and the animation is quality – as are the voices, stories, and content. All my children found the characters cute and funny (especially Dodo, the dog).
For myself, I loved how the main character is a bilingual girl of Chinese descent. Too often, Chinese kids are depicted as foreign or their Chineseness doesn’t come into play unless it’s Chinese New Year.
The normalizing of Miaomiao’s bilingual status makes my heart soar.
It helps me brainwash my children into accepting their natural bilingual state and for them to see kids that look like them in a show who also speak fluid English and Chinese? A rare and treasured thing.
Even though my older three are outside of the target demographic, they still watched and laughed and enjoyed the short cartoons. Glow Worm (5) and Gamera (7) both thought the show was funny and loved the dog. Cookie Monster (9) thought it was too babyish (because it’s for babies) but still willingly watched because it’s a screen and he’s well trained to watch all screens.
Incidentally, Cookie Monster also went into depth describing what happened in the episode as well as pointed out all the funny parts so despite him being 9, he still liked the antics (such as a monkey stealing Miaomiao’s camera and taking selfies, talking about his handsomeness and muscles, and showing off his tummy to giraffes).
2) Miaomiao’s Chinese for Kids App
This is one of Miaomiao’s newest apps (the have several more you can check out) and there are 50+ cartoons – each introducing a new word or phrase (either in English or Chinese). At the end of each episode, there’s a fun word tracing activity so kids can practice writing in Chinese.
Who is this app for: Children 2+ who are either native speakers or have either little to no prior knowledge of Chinese (or anyone in between).
Features: 50+ episodes (in either English or Chinese); includes an interactive portion at the end where child can trace the Chinese characters of the words they just learned; includes a parent console where you can view your child’s progress and see which words they’ve learned and episodes they’ve watched; COPPA compliant, ensuring privacy for your child. No ads or in-app purchases.
Where to buy: iOS App Store (currently only iOS)
I have 10 Free Access Codes to give away. Please comment on this post why you want the Miaomiao app by Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 11:59pm PST and I will randomly choose ten lucky folks to receive the access codes!
5 Minute Review: As with the show, the quality of the cartoons and app interface are excellent. It’s easy to understand – and if you choose “Learn English” instead of the “Learn Chinese” option, all episodes will be predominantly in Mandarin and introduce English words.
Needless to say, I prefer that option!
My older three children definitely found the episodes and activities too easy. However, that is because they are 9, 7, and 5. The 5 year old can read 800-1000 characters. My eldest two can read 1800-2000 characters.
OF COURSE IT IS TOO EASY.
Sasquatch (2), however, knows ZERO characters. If he was willing to watch anything that wasn’t Ryan’s Toy Review, I’m sure he would have adored the Chinese version of Daddy Finger. (He LOVES that song.)
If I hadn’t ruined Sasquatch so early on, I would have used this app instead of YouTube. As it is, I might have a shot at tricking him later.
3) Shuyan and Shuyan Graphic Novel/Comic Apps
While researching Miaomiao’s parent company, Lofty Sky, I came across their choose your own adventure graphic novel kungfu fighting game, Shuyan. Since I knew that my older kids had aged out of the Miaomiao categories, I was immediately intrigued. I was hoping against hope that it would also be available in Chinese.
Guess what? IT COMES IN CHINESE.
And not just any Chinese, INTERESTING Chinese.
Like, Chinese with terms for imperial palaces, conspiracies, kungfu, fighting, intrigue, princesses, and who knows what else because I can’t really understand it?
Who is this app for: Children 12+ who are either English or Chinese speakers/readers.
Features: 1400+ hand drawn panels; kungfu fight scenes; choices to change the story lines; original soundtrack and professional voice acting; comes in English, Traditional, and Simplified versions with subs.
Check out the trailer below.
Where to buy: Shuyan Website with links to iOS and Android stores
Cost: $3.99 (additional add-ons available)
5 Minute Review: OMG I LOVE IT.
The bane of my Chinese teaching existence is finding engaging materials that are complicated enough for my older children. This graphic novel requires my children to listen, understand, and read Chinese.
But it tricks them.
The panels are breathtaking; the scope, epic. The voice acting in either language is excellent and professional. And the fighting is fun enough that even our kungfu sifu was excited to play.
I have a high tolerance for violence and exposing my kids to it, but it’s really not that violent. It’s about the level of Street Fighter? Possibly less bloody.
My kids fought over whose turn it was to play.
They all swore they understood the plot and whatever, but I think they’re lying. BUT I DON’T CARE. Because when they play, they are forced to watch and listen and read and choose things IN CHINESE in between the parts they’re really there for (the fighting).
I cannot overemphasize how happy I am to have found this app. SO HAPPY.
Alright, thanks for sticking with me! I hope I was able to be helpful! Don’t forget to leave a comment in order to enter the drawing for one of ten FREE access codes!