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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

BBC TV teaches children yi, er, san

By Cheng Yingqi and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

09:58, March 22, 2012

A new TV cartoon show in Britain is teaching toddlers how to speak Mandarin - a sign, experts say, of the language's growing popularity around the world.

The Lingo Show is broadcast weekdays on the BBC's CBeebies channel, whose target audience is children under 6 years old, and aims to introduce Chinese, French and Spanish words to young viewers through a range of colorful characters.

Since making its debut this month, the show is already proving a hit, with its companion games website reportedly attracting 238,000 visitors in the first week, or a quarter of all CBeebies visitors that week.

Episodes so far have featured a bug called Wei, who introduced familiar objects in Mandarin. Wearing roller- skates and a crash helmet, Wei teaches children the basics of Chinese, such as numbers up to 10 and colors, through games and songs.

Later episodes follow the adventures of French bug Jargonaise and Spanish bug Queso.

"Frankly, learning Chinese is more difficult than learning other languages, such as French," said Roland Michael, from London, who watches The Lingo Show with his 6-year-old daughter. "English, French, Spanish are all rooted in Europe ... so they are easy. I think kids can grasp Chinese easily through the cartoon. It's a good idea."

The show is the latest proof of the rising popularity of Chinese, said Chen Tongdu, the UK representative for the Confucius Institute.

According to the institute's Beijing headquarters, 5,200 schools in the United Kingdom now offer classes in Mandarin.

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