Several weeks ago, I blogged about the Amazing Rainforest Animals educational DVD and how it uses the principle of flash cards for learning. Being incorporated into DVDs makes the flash-card technique an even more effective learning tool, since the DVD is a controlled environment (with consistent pronunciation, consistent flashing time, and optimal repetition frequencies).
Flashing is a tested method of teaching children new concepts, said to activate the right brain.
The right brain’s functions include artistry, emotional intelligence, creativity, intuition and seeing the whole picture (holistic). Until recently, most schools of thought considered left-brain functions to be more important. But today, the right brain functions are recognized as equally important, though often under-utilized.
Proponents of right-brain learning “believe that during the first six years of life, the right brain is wide open and ready for educational input of all kinds. This window of opportunity can be maximized with 12 early learning techniques taught at six different stages of early childhood development. When right brain and the left brain activities are enjoyed at key times of development, children maximize their potential right from the start.”
The flashcard method is one of the ways of opening up young children’s right brain, hence their intellectual potential.
I was given two other learning DVDs to review – one from the Baby Learns Chinese Series and the other from the Sing to Learn Chinese Series. Both utilize the flash-card technique.
Though Baby Learns Chinese specifically says “baby” in the title, I believe that older children and even adults who want to learn the Mandarin language will find the DVD useful and practical. Besides, there’s no better way to start learning a language than at the beginning, with the basics. But yes, young children, as young as infants, will benefit the most from these flash card-based DVDs.
Sing To Learn Chinese Volume 1 (P749.25) includes 23 children’s songs, most of which have English counterparts (such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, 10 Little Indians, Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes).
Baby Learns Chinese volume 2, Fruits and Food (P999.75) includes basic food and fruits that are practical especially for Asians. (The fruits include durian, longgan, lychee.) After all the words and images are shown, a song to review all the words follows.
The features that I appreciated
-The visuals are clear, colorful and catchy. Words (characters) are bold and always accompanied with an image for easy learning and faster recall. For example, in the song “Head, and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in the Sing to Learn Chinese DVD, the Chinese characters for those body parts are flashed, followed by the body parts shown.
-Repetition is the key. The words are repeated clearly several times, as the Chinese characters and the object’s image flash on the screen. Children are visual and auditory learners so optimizing this approach will benefit them.
-The songs in Sing to Learn Chinese are common. Most have English language counterparts, which may help non-Chinese speakers to appreciate and understand the songs.
-The words and objects are common and practical. Kids see, use, hear and eat them so again there’s good recall. We use these words in daily conversations so there is immediate application.
-There are options for Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese characters, as well as for English subtitles. In China and most Chinese-speaking countries, Simplified Chinese is used. However, in Taiwan and the Philippines, Traditional Chinese characters are used. But in most Filipino Chinese schools (or at least in my kids’ school), there is now a trend towards using simplified Chinese that began about 5 or 6 years ago. Wherever country you are and whatever form of Chinese characters your location favors, these DVDs can be used.
Of course the English subtitles are helpful for non-Chinese learners.
How I use the DVDs
The DVDs are always in the car, so I play them on the way to and from school. My kids (aged 4, 9, and 13) actually enjoy them, even if the two older ones groan every time I hit play on the player. I like the DVDs too, because: 1) they keeps them preoccupied and distracted from one another so fights and bickering are often prevented; and 2) I also get to brush up on basic Chinese (which I took last year, actually finished the course in 9 months).
I think the older kids, no matter now much they show dislike, actually like the DVDs because it’s a non-boring way of learning Mandarin. They learned these words before, but because they do not practice speaking (hmp!), they easily forget. So watching the DVDs remind them.
Husband, who is ever committed that our kids learn the Mandarin language, also thinks the DVDs are a good idea. He has always believed that songs are an excellent method of learning Chinese (hence the Teresa Teng and Jacky Cheung karaoke CDs!)
As an added attraction, I made a contest. First one who correctly identifies the picture before the Chinese word is said gets a score. I’m still contemplating on the prize though. 😀
I think the DVDs are great for kids to learn Chinese in an enjoyable way. It’s also good to start them early, ideally under 6 years old. Once they enjoy and start loving the language, there’s no need for parents to stand by and keep hovering watchfully like wireless cctv cameras. The kids themselves will embrace the language willfully.
As long as they’re having fun, they won’t even feel like it’s learning. 😉
Powerhans is the exclusive distributor of popular children’s educational DVDs, including Brainy Baby, So Smart, Wink To Learn Series, Baby Learns Chinese Series, Disney music CDs, and Just-Me Personalized CDs. Find the complete product list here. Powerhans also has a resellers program for those who would like to do wholesale business of the DVDs.
These DVDs are available at most SM Department Stores, Rustans, Landmark Trinoma, most National Bookstore branches, most Powerbooks branches, Toys R Us, Mindwerks, and Astrovision.
Powerhans has also recently put up retail shops – Blockbuster Kids at SM North, SM Fairview, SM Marikina and The Podium.