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Stinky Tofu and Language Learning

From the series Learning Chinese


Earlier in the summer, I had the chance to meet a family that was in the process of moving to China. Among other things they wanted to know about resources to help their young children (7 and 4) learn Chinese.

I told them about this fantastic YouTube channel called Chinese Buddy Songs that uses quirky songs and animation to teach basic Chinese words, phrases, and structures.

Chinese Buddy is the brainchild of a New Zealander named Timothy. He is a trained musician and is passionate about “using music and technology to grow Mandarin learning.”

In addition to the YouTube channel, there are other resources on the Chinese Buddy site, such as games and interactive questions.

I shared this video, “Song to Learn Greetings” with the family to teach them how to introduce themselves:

After listening to it a few times, we were all dancing around the house introducing ourselves to each other in song!

We also mastered “How Are You?” with this fun video: 

A few weeks ago, Chinese Buddy outdid themselves with the release of what is sure to become a big hit: The Stinky Tofu Song.  Besides being funny and having a catchy (or shall we say addictive) tune, it does a great job of teaching the basic structure of saying “I want” and “I don’t want.” Be warned; this tune will embed itself into your brain (which is, of course the point). It took me days to get it out of my mind after hearing it the first time. 

And lest you think that these songs and videos are just effective language learning tools for children, think again. Even for adult learners, listening must be the foundation of language learning; that’s how you learned your own language, right? The most effective way to get a language into your head is through your ears. These videos are a fun and highly effective way to do that.

Now, I’m off to find my stinky tofu!

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Image credit: Adam tries the old stinky tofu by Tyler via Flickr.  
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio