Sing/calligraphy to cover a Chinese song.

For this video, I sang a Chinese song by the famous rock musician Xu Wei and practiced the written lyrics as well (watch the video and it will make sense).  Such a beautiful song–working on this was a mini-vacation!

The format for the video is essentially what I previously described as fingerprint karaoke, either for a song or for quotes (i.e. here or here). Somehow I like this format of bringing different elements (i.e. oral/written) together for a practice project.  I think I’ll keep playing around with this idea.

Advertisements

ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ : peyak isko mitâtaht (Cree:1-10)

Learning to count to ten in Cree

I found Brian MacDonald’s cd (Onion Lake, SK) in the Edmonton Public Library (epl.ca).  The music cd “For the Generations” and lyric booklet is part of their Cree Family Language kit; this song is called “The Number Song” and my son and I listened to it to learn the Nêhiyawêwin Cree numbers from 1-10.  This was a fun way for us to spend a Saturday when my wife was called in to work.  The syllabics below were generated using the Maskwacis Plains Cree Syllabic Converter on the Online Cree Dictionary site.

I don’t know how many mistakes (spelling, etc.) we made, but that’s how it works, doesn’t it? We gave it a go and now it’s now a song that we can sing sometimes to try and keep it fresh, and we can revisit it at some point in the future.

  1. peyak  ᐯᔭᐠ
  2. nîso  ᓃᓱ
  3. nisto  ᓂᐢᑐ
  4. newo  ᓀᐅᐧ
  5. nîyânan  ᓃᔮᓇᐣ
  6. nikotwâsik  ᓂᑯᑖᐧᓯᐠ 
  7. (ekwa) têpakohp  (ᐁᑲᐧ) ᑌᐸᑯᐦᑊ  
  8. ayinânew  ᐊᔨᓈᓀᐤ
  9. kêkâ-mitâtaht  ᑫᑳ ᒥᑖᑕᐦᐟ
  10. (mina) mitataht  (ᒥᓇ) ᒥᑕᑕᐦᐟ

êkota isko nitakihcikān  ᐁᑯᑕ ᐃᐢᑯ ᓂᑕᑭᐦᒋᑳᐣ  (“this is how far I’m counting”—thanks to RQ for translation!)

Fingerpaint Karaoke–“夜空中最亮的星“ by 逃跑计划

It’s father’s day today, so I indulged myself with some hobby time and finally finished this video.  I had the idea for “Fingerpaint Karaoke” ages ago– in another iteration, I called it “Whiteboard Karaoke”, which is a lot cleaner, but certainly not as fun:)   This is was also an idea that gained momentum when I was thinking of ways to introduce my son to language learning in light/fun ways.

When it comes to Mandarin, what I need most is practice with writing, so I thought this might be a fun way to do something different.  Most of the strategies using music for language study are driven toward the speaking/singing part of things, so the idea of using music to fuel writing practice might not be an intuitive one.  I tried to find other examples of this online, but I don’t think I’m using the right keywords– if anyone knows of something, can you leave a comment with a link?

Through this project, I learned the correct stroke order for several characters; however, like regular karaoke, step one is “learning the song”, and then continuing to practice and have fun with it— the nice part about fingerpaint/whiteboard/doodle karaoke is I can really do it anywhere: just try and recall the lyrics and see if I can recall the characters.

As for the song— wow!  as soon as I heard “夜空中最亮的星“, I knew it would be a great campfire song and wanted to learn how to play it. I can’t sing as high as the original version, so my guitar is tuned down a step. 逃跑计划 (Escape Plan) have got quite a few good songs that are worth checking out!

 

Boonie Bears(熊出没): Language Learning with your children

I was reading a blog article the other day about encouraging your child’s language learning through active encouragement of their progress, and the post definitely struck a chord with me. When I thought back to the children’s language school where I worked in China, you could definitely tell a difference in the enthusiasm and proficiency on the faces of the children who had parents who also liked to make English small talk with the teachers and staff.

As most working adults can sympathize, there never seems to be enough time to do everything you want (or need!) to do.  With limited time to spend on language learning, it’s always great when you can combine it with other passions—- for me, spending time with my son watching Chinese cartoons has been a fantastic experience that enriches both of us. On that note, we’ve been working on singing the theme song to 熊出没 (Boonie Bears) and this video shows where we’re at now, including our practice writing out the lyrics.

I’m very proud of the progress that my son has made with Mandarin– it wasn’t something he was really interested in until we discovered this cartoon.  It’s not our intention to ‘force’ him to learn Chinese, but watching this show has been solid source of inspiration on which to build.

Edmonton Confucius Institute: The First Five Years

This is a wonderful video that captures the story behind the Confucius Institute here in my city.  I’ve said it in other posts, but after living in China for a few years, my earnest study of Mandarin didn’t really begin until I returned to Canada; as part of that process, I first got in touch with the CIE about four years ago to ask about participating in the HSK proficiency tests.

The staff have always been exceptionally warm and supportive—in addition to registering for the tests and making use of their fantastic library, I’ve also had the pleasure of participating in some of their public events.

 

Documentary film – Blue Eyes, Twenty One Days Of China 蓝眼睛,中国二十一天

Video

The last 6 minutes of Ji Yida’s “Blue Eyes, Twenty One Days of China” perfectly encapsulates the experiences of a surprisingly large percentage of travellers that I have seen; here, I mean to include folks crossing the Pacific Ocean from both sides of the east-west paradigm.

If you want to skip to the spot I’m mentioning, this link starts at the 14:00 mark: http://youtu.be/6fjoNZG1Kzw?t=14m

The American in the film is from a community of 60,000 people and the videographer is his Chinese friend who went to High School in that community. They took a trip to China together over one of their summer breaks.

Luke, the subject of the film, is a pretty introverted guy–the videographer describes him as “the most non-American-American-I-know”. Some of his comments in the scene linked above reminded me of the time when I came to the conclusion that my Canadian manners were getting me nowhere in many situations in China that really required me to be a little pushy; it was initially hard to make the adjustment and not feel like I was being rude— and also let go of the judgement that others (i.e. the Chinese people around me) were being rude.

and so it goes….

Contrary to the opinion that many folks often express, I have always thought that cross-cultural experiences (especially longer sojourns) ultimately offer you the opportunity to learn more about *you* and your own culture. It’s not a guarantee though– for non-reflective personalities, the process seems to work in reverse and you sometimes see cynical expats who have lived somewhere for years in seeming misery.

again, this has been true on both ends of my Asian-Canadian experience.