Learning Chinese through music videos

Songwriting enthusiast Richard Wan, 52, with the nine Meridian Primary School pupils who sang the songs, titled It Is Fun & Do It Now and Our Garden, in English and Mandarin to promote bilingualism. The music videos can be seen via the We Love Bi
Songwriting enthusiast Richard Wan, 52, with the nine Meridian Primary School pupils who sang the songs, titled It Is Fun & Do It Now and Our Garden, in English and Mandarin to promote bilingualism. The music videos can be seen via the We Love Bilingualism channel on video website YouTube. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF RICHARD WAN

Young children can now learn Chinese by tuning in to online music videos that mix English and Mandarin lyrics.

The clips can be accessed free via the We Love Bilingualism channel on video website YouTube.

Self-employed property agent Richard Wan, who wrote 12 songs for the videos and put them online last November, hopes children can learn Chinese through song.

"Many children grow up in an English-speaking environment and may not be used to listening to Mandarin songs," said Mr Wan, 52, whose project was sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

This was set up by former prime minister Lee in November 2011 to support the teaching and learning of English and mother tongue languages at pre-school level.

Mr Wan declined to reveal the amount of grant money he had received, but a spokesman for the fund said this "depends on the nature and scope of the project".

A long-time songwriting enthusiast, Mr Wan said it took him a year to complete the project.

The lyrics of the songs typically contain a mix of English and Mandarin, like one which had the words "good night" and its Chinese equivalent "wan an".

The songs also touch on topics like numbers, colours and road safety.

"The songs are set in the local context and can be a useful platform to get kids interested in Chinese as well as stimulate their learning," said Mr Wan, who has two children aged one and five.

Indeed, the music videos for the songs contain familiar Singapore sights, like housing estates and road signs, which children are likely to see in everyday life. They also come with photos, animation and picture slide shows.

The songs were sung by about 50 pupils from six primary schools, including Meridian Primary and Greendale Primary.

One song, titled We Have Good Manners, is also supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement. It encourages children to greet others using phrases like "ni hao ma" (how are you) and "hello".

Madam Catriona Wong, 42, a manager with a nine-year-old son, thinks the videos are a good idea. "It will not be boring to learn Chinese," she said.

audreyt@sph.com.sg