We all know that Mandarin is a tough language to master. Ask any Mandarin teachers how we can go about advancing in this language and they will tell you to LISTEN, READ and WATCH anything in Mandarin.
One of our favorite activities to boost the language is to watch plays in Mandarin. We particularly like the ones produced by The Little Company because their plays are stories already familiar to the kids like The Nightingale (2014), 金发姑娘和三只熊 Goldilocks and The Three Bears (2015) and The Little Duckling (2015). Their plays also usually have morals and they are told in a fun, humorous and interactive manner that engages their young audience and the parents.
Their most recent production, 三只山羊 (The Three Billy Goats Gruff) is another familiar story that was produced in the English version earlier this year (read our review HERE). Watching the play a second time in Mandarin makes the language transition a lot more efficient when your child already knows the plot of the story.
The story essentially has the same characters —羊老大 (Big Goat), 羊小二 (Middle Goat), (Baby Goat), 没脑妹 (Little Bo-Frilly) and 牧羊人 (Mr. Bo, the father) and 有怪兽 (the Troll).
The story revolves around the quest of Little Bo-Frilly and the Three Billy Goats Gruff to find greener pasture over yonder to satiate their hunger in the middle of a horrible drought. And the protagonist of the play is the Troll who craves for goats’ meat. He is the obstacle who lives under the very same bridge that the Goats have to cross to get to the greener pasture.
Ok, you get the story. Now, let me share the clever use of Mandarin words that parents can catch to teach their kids.
HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS LEARN MANDARIN
1) Explain the different words/ sounds to your kids
If you are studying Mandarin, you will know that the same sound with different infections can have different meanings. So, for example, the sound “WEI” was used several times in the play to depict the following words “stomach”, “why” and “feed”.
山羊有四个胃 (wei) — Goats have four stomachs
为(wei)什么? — why?
喂 (wei) 山羊 — feed the Goats
Then, there is also the clever use of the word “XIA”.
有怪兽不大聪明, 什么都吃, 喜欢吃羊肉。— The Troll is not very smart. It eats anything and particularly likes goat meat.
不喜欢吃虾(xia)肉, 会 瞎 (xia). — The Troll does not eat prawns (虾) because you might become blind (瞎) from it.
Here is another example: 有怪兽不怕羊(yang)， 只怕太阳(yang)。— The Troll is not afraid of GOATS, but it is afraid of the SUN.
2) Encourage kids to participate when the actors are engaging with them. Better yet, participate with them to show camaraderie in your learning journey.
3) Take the opportunity to discuss the morals / values presented by the play
After the play, I usually ask my kids what they think of the characters’ decisions or learning points and take the opportunity to discuss some of the morals or values presented by the play. For example, in this play, you can discuss the pros and cons of being a picky eater or character building values like facing fears and being resourceful. For those with multiple children, you can even discuss how the goat siblings supported and help one another and how your kids can adapt that to their own sibling relationships.
There was a part of the play where Baby Goat ate the pages from Little Bo-Frilly’s books. We were lucky to meet the cast after the show who shared pieces of the pages with us. Shhh… it is edible paper!! Taste really bland…
三只山羊 is only an hour long. But it is very good exposure to the Mandarin language for your kids with catchy songs, humorous storyline and building wonderful memories together.
三只山羊 is performing at the following dates and time:
|Date:||18 February – 25 March 2016|
|Opening hours:||Thu, 18 Feb – Sat, 26 Mar 2016|
Mon – Fri: 10am
Sat: 11am, 2pm
Fri (25 Mar): 11am
|Venue:||Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre|
20 Merbau Road
You may also like to read our reviews on the following plays for kids: