If the foreigners who are learning Mandarin Chinese in China have ever been to Singapore, they may find that the atmosphere of Chinese language learning is not as good as we expect. People in Singapore seldom read Chinese books or newspaper. For some of the children, it is difficult for you to let them read Chinese books than anything else.
However, they might strive to be the first to buy the thick and heavy “Harry Potter”. In order to buy an English book without any pictures in it, the children may be willing to line up for a long time. They even ask their family members to help. The foreigners who learn to speak Chinese may know this phenomenon reflects one fact that the Chinese books do not attract children’s attention in recent times.
It is a real fact and a potential problem. I think it is a problem worthy of our consideration for teachers who teach Mandarin Chinese because it might be a far-reaching and hidden crisis for Chinese language. We can see there are many Chinese books but they seem not attract people’s attention because it is not so various like English books.
For most Chinese books, they either have boring contents or have bad coverings. Therefore, children become against the Chinese books gradually. Accordingly, we can gain foreign learners’ interest to learn Chinese language by doing some changes. The overseas Chinese language institutions have such advantage to combine Chinese culture with western culture.
We can learn from the western models to “save” our Chinese books, especially the contents of the children’s books. There is no need to talk about the profound principles in the books. If we can write some interesting contents and design lovely covers, they will attract many young readers’ attention. The application of cartoon and comics is a good method to guide children to learn Chinese.
The young people who do not speak Chinese may listen to Chinese songs. The students who do not understand Chinese language can see Chinese cartoon and comics, even there are complex Chinese characters. Some foreign students who study in qualified Mandarin program suggested paying attention to not only the contents that are related to the young people’s life, but also attach more importance to the packaging to attract them.
However, we should also pay attention to the choosing of the cartoon and comics because some are beneficial for the children to study Chinese while some will bring bad effect to the young people. If we choose the proper ones to them, it will help them open the window of reading Chinese books. It is not the times that people against cartoon and comics. Like some other things, we should guide the children to choose the right thing and encourage them to read cartoon and comics books.
In modern society, with the rapid development of science and technology, the most common things they face are computers and televisions. As we all know, the contents and knowledge that the Internet and television provide are rich and various. Under such colorful temptations, it is difficult for the young people to sit down quietly to read a book or learn Mandarin. Therefore, it is more difficult to train their habits of reading Chinese books.
That’s why we suggest using cartoon and comics to draw their attention. If we can apply the cartoon and comics to stimulate their interest to read more Chinese books and then gradually guide them to read the chapters books, we will reach the goal of diversifying the access of acquiring knowledge. Some foreigners who learn Chinese in China may think that they can more or less absorb the essence of Chinese culture even if they are not interested in reading chapters books.
For example, there are many set phrases in Chinese language and most of them have some historical backgrounds. Therefore, we can tell the stories by the way of cartoon and comics to explain the meanings of set phrases. It is also suitable for those foreigners who study in China. In the future, there will be more such books will be published.
From all above contents, the most important thing is to encourage more young people to read Chinese books. We can encourage them to read by starting with cartoon and comics.