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Teach Me Chinese (Paperback and Audio CD): A Musical Journey Through the Day

Teach Me Chinese (Paperback and Audio CD): A Musical Journey Through the Day
Author/Publisher: Judy Mahoney
Format: book + CD
Emphasis: Chinese for Kids
Level: Beginning
Note: Simplified Chinese & Traditional Chinese with Pinyin
List Price: $15.95

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Detailed information
Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 4. These two packages attempt to help English speaking Americans acquire the rudiments of the Chinese language in slightly different ways. Neither offers any information on the Chinese language with its many vast differences from English. Neither mentions whether the language on the tape is Mandarin or another dialect. Nor does either offer a phonetic equivalent to help when trying to reproduce sounds from the pinyin transliterations. Teach Me Chinese includes both spoken and sung Chinese. Certain basic vocabulary is introduced, then used in a song, which is sung in both English and Chinese. The text is about the activities of Marie, "A Musical Journey Through the Day," narrated clearly by a female voice. She introduces us to her house, family, and pets in Chinese. She gets dressed, then discusses parts of the body, days of the week, letters, numbers, and activities. Interspersed with these sentences, which are written in both Chinese characters and romanized pinyin and translated in the back of the booklet, are many songs familiar to American children, from "The Wheels on the Car" to "On the Bridge of Avignon," all sung in both English and Chinese. Listeners have the opportunity to acquire the proper pitch, an important factor in spoken Chinese, while listening to the narrative. The pace of narration is rapid and not easy to follow in the booklet's pinyin translation. But since children pick up languages aurally with ease, they should be able to learn a basic vocabulary with this package. Sing 'n Learn Chinese includes 22 songs on one side, sung only in Chinese with the music only on the other side. A female voice sings fairly clearly, with simple accompaniment. Many of the songs are familiar in English. By singing "Ten Little Friends," listeners learn how to count to ten in Chinese; with "This Is the Way," they learn the Chinese for washing the face, brushing teeth, combing hair. And so it goes, with many other subjects such as colors, family members, etc. Each song is written in the accompanying booklet in simplified Chinese characters, traditional Chinese characters, and romanized pinyin. There is also an English translation of and notes in an "Instructional Guide" on each selection. This kit can introduce the language and vocabulary as sung, but not as spoken. A comparison of the same song used on both cassettes shows different translations. Both packages offer parents and teachers a chance to open a window, if only a crack, into a very different language.?Sylvia Marantz, Norwich School, Hilliard, OH
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Midwest Book Review
Teach Me Chinese is the ninth in an outstanding series of language instruction audio tapes for children ages 2 through 12. . Young listeners follow Marie ("Mai Rui") through the day and sing songs that teach numbers, parts of the body, colors, etc. In this way they effortlessly pick up the rhythm and accent of the Mandarin language. With a running time of 40 minutes, Teach Me Chinese contains the dialogues in Chinese and the songs in both English and Chinese. There is a follow-along book in which the dialogues are written in both Chinese and Pinyin, while the songs are written in Pinyin. The Teach Me series is one of the least expensive, most colorful, kid pleasing, music-based language instruction supplements to ever grace a classroom or library shelf.

Product Details
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Teach Me Tapes; Book & CD edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0934633827
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 9.4 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 10 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

Ouch, My Ears!, October 24, 2004

Reviewer: Laura De Giorgio "www.deeptrancenow.com" (Canada)

English part on this CD is awesome - both the background music and the voices sound professionally done. The problem with Chinese is not that the vocalists are bad - for the most part they sound decent - but no matter how good voice you may have if you keep on trying to squish 5 - 10 syllables into a beat of music that can accommodate harmoniously only one or two - it's not going to work.

The music on this CD was created to accommodate English verses. When these English verses got translated to Chinese, the number of Chinese syllables that has to fit into the same music constantly comes out as being either not enough or too much.

it makes me wonder if musicians who were involved in creating these songs didn't have ears to hear how bad the combination sounds, or they didn't care, or thought that kids for whom it was made, would either not notice or care.

This recording could've been done beautifully if instead of using popular western music to accompany Chinese verses, they picked perhaps some Chinese music.



5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

A disappointment, July 10, 2001

Reviewer: Elizabeth Yu (Northport, NY USA)

This book and tape set was somewhat of a disappointment. The female vocalist in the audio recording valiantly attempts to sing Chinese lyrics to familiar American children's tunes. In this case it just doesn't work. The lyrics sound like they were "squeezed" into the music. Many of the tunes are completely out of rhythm. My children were also turned off by the singer's voice which is somewhat high pitched and grating. It would have been nice if the songs were set to Chinese melodies instead of western tunes. When learning a foreign language why not also learn the music of that culture as well?


Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

the good and the bad, August 18, 2004

Reviewer: bilingual mom "bbhippo" (Honolulu, HI)

I will attempt to give an objective review.
The good:
* Good concept: the book follows a little Chinese girl, Marie, throughout her day. On the way, you learn the Chinese words for family members, colors, clothing, body parts, days of the week, etc.
* Good Chinese pronunciation: Considering how many local dialects and accents there are in China, I am always concerned about pronunciation. I was pleased to find that the Chinese narrator speaks Mandarin with very good standard (Mainland Chinese) pronunciation. Note: standard Mandarin pronunciation in China and in Taiwan, though similar, have slight differences.
* Good English vocalists.

The bad:
* Poor Chinese vocalist: The narrator, who also does the singing, needs singing lessons! To be fair, she is not a terrible singer, she sings about as well as your average mom or grandma. But then again, your average mom or grandma would not be featured on a music CD, right? In several songs, she is off beat and off pitch.
* Hand-written book: Another thing I did not like is that the book is completely handwritten, so it is not very professional looking.
* Mistakes in the lyrics: I have found that the written Chinese lyrics do not always correspond to what is actually sung and some of the pinyin is incorrect.

Other neutral information:
* The songs are mostly standard western songs with make-shift translations. What bothers me is that many of the songs, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," have had standard Chinese lyrics for decades, yet the version in this CD sounds as if someone just decided to make up new lyrics. The translation tends to be more or less a direct translation of the English, which is probably what was intended. However, this also means that some of the songs sound very strange in Chinese.
* The Chinese lyrics are written only in pinyin without any Chinese characters, so I had to write them out myself.

Do I recommend this product? Well, that depends on who you are. I believe that this product is useful in introducing VERY YOUNG children to the sound of the Mandarin language. Since young children are a very forgiving audience, they probably won't object to the high-pitched, occasionally out-of-tune vocal performance. My bilingual 3-year-old son loves the CD. So if you have children under 5 and if you believe you can tolerate the singing, I would recommend this product. The product states that it is for kids ages 2 to 12, but I seriously doubt that any child above five years of age will enjoy the music.


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Almost couldn't be worse, December 29, 2003
Reviewer: A reader
The idea of recording Chinese language children's songs is great, but unfortunately the music on this CD is terrible. The singing sounds like a bad female impersonator, and the music sounds like super-cheapo eletric organ samples. It's almost unbearable to listen to. My spouse who speaks chinese says the pronounciation was unrecognizable, maybe because of the very high pitched voice.

I hope someone else will give this idea a second try and use native chinese speaking children to sing and professional musicians for the music.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent!, May 21, 2003

Reviewer: A. Truong (Campbell, CA United States)

We've owned this CD for 2 years now and we listen to it often. My son is now 2 years old and his Chinese daycare teacher is constantly amazed at how well he is picking up Chinese. She tells me that he is learning Chinese much better than the other non-Chinese children. She has asked me more than once if we speak Chinese with him at home. No, we don't! However, I play the "Teach me Chinese", "Teach me More Chinese" and "Sing 'n Learn Chinese" CD's in our car all the time. That's the only Chinese my son hears outside of daycare.

I agree that the Chinese singing voice is a bit weak. I've heard other Chinese music, and it seems to be a quality of Chinese singing to have a high-pitched, nasal sound. The voice on this CD is no different. We got over that hurdle after about 1 week. Just like any new music that you don't really like the first time you hear it, it somehow grows on you. Now I listen to it and it sounds normal. There is also Chinese dialog spoken by children. The songs are all sung in English as well (mostly), and the English singing voices are very pleasant.

A side effect of using the Teach Me Chinese CD's to teach my son Chinese is that I'm starting to pick it up too! I can sing several of the Chinese songs completely from memory now.

If you are serious about giving your child Chinese as their second language, I would definitely recommend the 'Teach me Chinese' series.


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

Major Disappointment, March 23, 2003
Reviewer: A reader
My kids screamed, "Turn it off! Please!" They could not stand listening to the very high pitched and out of tune voice. Needless to say, Teach me Chinese did not work for my children. I have had better luck with Sing 'n Learn Chinese.


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