Discover more from Cantonese + Mandarin
Multilingual Nursery Rhymes
A running list of familiar favorite nursery rhymes in Cantonese & Mandarin
Yeah, not responding in Canto at all here… (2 YO)
When we became parents, we ditched our TV set in an effort to delay screen time as much as possible. Yet, by age 2 our firstborn was able to get a hold of our laptops and cell phones, and we knew she'd get suckered in. So, in order to use screen time to our advantage, she (and now her little brother) was allowed to watch Chinese language materials on-screen in little spurts, more specifically, via Chinese songs that they can sing along to.
Over time, I've noticed that the content most frequently played and repeated by request were often the nursery rhymes. To drill down even further, the Chinese nursery rhymes that had real staying power were the ones where the tune was based on a popular English nursery rhyme they heard on random occasions. Once repeated enough times, our toddler would unknowingly sing the Chinese version, instead of the English one!
Then, around age 3, we'd hear some Chinese phrase sung, followed by "what's that mean?" Which then gave me the opportunity to answer their question/start a mini conversation in Cantonese. or Mandarin (woohoo!)
More specifically, these are the familiar nursery rhymes that made the cut:
London Bridge, but really birds falling down 有隻雀仔掉落水 in Cantonese
Itsy Bitsy Spider became about 2 spiders 一隻两隻蜘蛛 in Cantonese
We Will Rock You, or a runaway cat 有一隻貓鍾意跑跑跑 in Cantonese
Skip to My Lou, but actually 3 good pigs + a sleepy pig 三只白白猪 in Cantonese
This Old Man became a counting song in Cantonese: 數字歌 刷牙歌
Ten Little Indians is really about finding fun things to do 朦查查 in Cantonese
I reiterate: Repetition is key! Our toddler requested to watch these on loop until she could imitate the sounds herself and visualize the video images in her head. It was annoying until it got entertaining. #余樂
*will continue adding to the list as more songs get repeated on our playlists & in our heads