By now, we’ve landed and are starting to settle in to our home in China. Today’s theme for the Expat Blog Hop is Television: What programs from our country do we watch, and have they helped to integrate or learn the language in any way?
This was our hope when we first moved to China, but TV was a bit beyond us at that point. What is great about Chinese TV is that in an effort to educate the general population, there are Chinese subtitles on every Chinese program, in simplified characters:
The most well-known Chinese television network is CCTV, the national Chinese television network.
But since JavaMan and I aren’t really big TV watchers, we quickly lost interest in TV. We do like to watch Chinese movies, however, and I asked some of my students and friends for their recommendations to get us started. Again, these movies usually have subtitles in Chinese, which is helpful.
We tried TV as a language-learning tool for our kids, but found that so many shows for kids were filled with magic and violence, we ended up opting for other language-learning tools. For a while, our kids had a tutor and she was using a series of books we located on the internet called Sing Your Way to Chinese. They’re a lot of fun, and we’ll continue to use them when we return. Our kids are also very engaged now with Rosetta Stone, so it will be an excellent tool to continue language learning.
Now that our Chinese has improved, we may find more use for TV. One thing we did appreciate it for was watching the Olympics. We watched portions of both the Beijing Summer Games and the Vancouver Winter Games from China. The few times that we have found TV more entertaining, we watched with friends, who were able to interpret a bit more of what we were watching. It was also interesting to hear their perspectives on what we were viewing.
And we had the opportunity to see a fellow Canadian on Chinese TV. Mark Rowsell, of Toronto, otherwise as invisible as the next average Canadian, has achieved superstar status in China. He has acquired Mandarin to such a degree of proficiency that he became an emcee for Chinese television shows and executes comedy in Mandarin with skill the Chinese admire in a national. He is the gold standard for every other expat attempting to learn the language, and when Chinese hear us speak, it is not uncommon to hear “Dashan” (his Chinese name) mentioned in comparison. Rick Mercer, another Canadian icon, held this interview with him (Mercer slaughters the Chinese pronunciation of “Dashan” and just about everything else he says in Chinese in this video by the way):