One comment that I got was "wah, so you think that you are Madonna?" when the person found out about the no TV policy.
Years on when I know that Dumpling can somewhat regulate her TV hours, I started letting her watch... Chinese cartoons! YUP, I am that anal (that's not all, you will read more about it later :p) I made this decision because I wanted Dumpling to have a more natural way to acquire the usage of the language and this was not something that can be done in the classrooms. And what a better way that cartoons? So after searching around, I found out that the 'Pleasant Goat' series was BIG in China and we decided to give it a try. We have also tried many other titles and here are my recommendations.
The Pleasant Goat DVDs (we have three sets of it) were quite comical and the story centres revolves around a Wolf tries (and repeatedly fails) to catch goats from the goat village. And often, he is being outsmarted by Pleasant Goat - 喜羊羊。
Lately, we have started to let her watch Doraemon instead and things that she caught on from the show? Names of various household items and inventions!
It was also through online shopping at dangdang.com where I found out that Barbapapa comes in DVDs too and I placed an order IMMEDIATELY for this series. Originally a French title, the books are colourful and imaginative. The storyline revolves around a family of 'aliens' (?) which are shape shifters and use their abilities to help others. Dumpling loves the books (even till this very day) and she was simply thrilled when she saw the DVDs.
And here's the anal part. :) Being the tiger mum that I am (when it comes to Chinese), Dumpling watches many movies in Mandarin audio instead. From titles such as Madagascar (as above) to Harry Potter (YUP, YOU READ IT RIGHT!) to Gold Compass (which I did not really enjoy because I was not comfortable with many of their references to a term called daemons and the storyline).
We've watched movies like these in Mandarin and she could be exposed to complete sentences and conversations in Mandarin too.
I was told that on cable, for Disney channels, there is an option to choose Mandarin audio. Other kids friendly titles which we have enjoyed are definitely Disney movies such as Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and other children shows like Alvin and the Chipmunks, Kung Fu Panda and Smurfs (we have the latter title in cartoon, Mandarin too!)
So does it help? Certainly. While I am not advocating daily TV screening (we don't) but whenever we can, we'd let her watch (and watch with her) movies and cartoons in Mandarin for the added exposure. It adds a different dimension to learning Chinese and makes it fun especially when they are young. :)
This is part of a 10-part series:Part 1: Read Read Read (books of a different kind)
Part 2: Speak It, Use It
Part 4: Play It!
Part 5: Write it! (小书 Small Book)