Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, From Lina | comments Comments (2)

“Using the Media for Multicultural Children” is the topic of October’s MKB Blogging Carnival, hosted by Olga Mecking from The European Mama. Her definition of the media is very broad and includes books, computers, films, tablets, you name it, Youtube videos, or apps, photography, newspapers.

MKB Blogging Carnival

Yes, we always use media to teach children, including foreign languages and foreign culture. In the old times, we used old media, such as books, newspapers, flash cards, pictures, radios, cassettes, VCRs and etc.

In a new age when technology plays an increasing role in everyone’s lives, we use new media, such as computers, apps, YouTube videos, mp3, tablets, and many more. New media “teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way” (Papert 1980). The choice is ours. No matter old or new, media play an important role in helping children to learn and teachers to teach, especially foreign languages.

The role of media in foreign language learning and teaching
  Baby A (Nana) was putting magnet flash cards onto the board. Did she get the sentence right?

Without the assistance of books, pictures and cassettes, the only media I could get when I was young, I could never have learned a second language—English—in a non-native language environment. English is so different from Mandarin Chinese in many ways, such as grammar, intonation, pronunciation, and writing.

In the class, I had to write down each language point explained by my teacher, for example, meanings and usage of key words and expressions, sentence formation, and grammar. After class, I had to reply on the media trying to memorize the new vocabulary and complete the exercises on the language points.

The role of media in foreign language learning and teaching
My oldest daughter DD was reading Chinese books. These books are her two-year birthday gifts.

Right now, I use old and new combined to help my children learn Chinese, a second language in their cases. All kinds of books (hardbacks, books with cardboard pages, picture books, cloth books, paperbacks), flash cards, cartoon DVDs, song CDs, computer games, E-reading pen, altogether create a language-rich environment to make the learning more flexible, extensible and fun.

I cannot imagine how I am going to teach Chinese to my students if I solely reply on old media. I guess it would be frustrating and ineffective, since most of my students come from non-Chinese families and we have class only once a week. So I use new media such as videos, YouTube videos, mp3 and ask parents to play them to their children at home.

Students watch the video to go over new vocabulary and sentence patterns. A 3-minitue YouTube video can cover most information about China, the Great Wall, the Mid-autumn Festival, lion dance and much more cultural-related content. The message comes to students visual-auditory, vivid and directly, hence it is much more interesting and effective.

The role of media in foreign language learning and teaching
Baby B (Yanyan) was playing the computer game. She was having fun!

I also email to parents on a weekly basis, informing them the class activities, their children’s progress and sending out homework. Two weeks ago, I created an online album to share classroom pictures with parents.

All of these methods dramatically increase the parents’ involvement and connection, helping raising multicultural children. Nevertheless, it is never a good thing to reply excessively on one type of media, like watching TV or videos for an extended time.

The best way is to combine all types of media, no matter old or new, to educate children multi-dimensionally.

Papert, Seymour. The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. New York: basic Books, 1993.

The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer

Papert, Seymour. “Teaching Children Thinking: Teaching Children to be Mathematicians vs. Teaching about Mathematics.” In The Computer in the School: Tutor, Tool, Tutee, edited by Robert Taylor, pp. 161-96. New York: Teachers College Press, 1980. Related posts: Language and culture Library is the paradise for children Music is a great way to learn languages, for children and adults


  1. 1
    Tina at Mommynificent // October 16th, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for linking these thoughts up on Booknificent Thursday.



  1. October Multicultural Kids Blog Carnival: Multimedia for Multicultural Kids

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