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Jump into Chinese Culture by Learning These Helpful Chinese Songs (Part I)

Jun. 30, 2017

Chinese General Songs

Today I’m going to introduce some fun and helpful Chinese songs that you can learn, from beginner to intermediate level. These songs can supplement your Mandarin Chinese progress and make things a bit more fun. In fact, one of my favorite parts of teaching Chinese is introducing songs for my students of all levels to learn and sing. But, first, why would learning songs be helpful in language acquisition?

Learning songs helps make the lessons more fun and gives us a chance to put our language to use. Who knows? Students may end up showing off their skills in a KTV (that’s a Chinese karaoke entertainment center!).

There are many reasons to learn songs as you’re learning a foreign language:

• The language of a song is similar to real-life spoken everyday language. Many textbooks teach conversation such as “Hi. How are you? I’m fine, thanks. And you?”. However, that’s not how we really speak, is it? Songs contain language that is authentic and casual, just like sitcoms such as Friends do.

• There are songs for all levels of learners, from absolute beginners to the most advanced learners.

• Songs are rich with new vocabulary and expressions in the “歌词 (gēcí)”, or “lyrics”. Songs contain a wealth of idioms, everyday expressions and useful vocabulary to learn.

• The melody of a song often reflects the intonation and rhythm of our natural speaking.

• Learning songs introduces cultural knowledge that will keep language learners interested and motivated to continue learning!

So, now that we know that learning songs is important, which ones should we learn?

That will depend on your Mandarin Chinese level, of course!

- BEGINNER CHILDREN’S SONGS -

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these fun songs! Children’s songs are not only fun, but also useful and easy to learn. Don’t feel self-conscious, join in at all ages!

Here are the four Children’s songs in Chinese that I’d recommend all Chinese learners check out:

1. 两只老虎 (Liǎng zhī lǎohŭ) Two Tigers

This surreal song is about two tigers running fast- one with no eyes and the other with no tail. Certainly unforgettable!

2. 种太阳 (Zhòng tàiyáng) Planting the Sun

This cheerful song introduces some locations and verbs related to growing and giving.

3. 爱我你就抱抱我 (Ài wǒ nǐ jiù bào bào wǒ) Love Me and Hug Me

This song is a plea from a child for more love from mom and dad. There are many helpful verbs and language about love and caring for one another.

4. 小跳蛙 (Xiǎo tiàowā) Leap Frog

The story of an ambitious and confident growing frog that travels the world jumping across oceans!

Like other children’s songs around the world, Chinese songs for kiddos feature cheerful melodies, lyrics that are easy to understand and remember and are sang in simple sentence structures. Accompanying videos can be watched to help illustrate the songs that you are learning. Learners of these songs will learn many nouns, adjectives and phrases in Chinese.

- BEGINNER to INTERMEDIATE TEEN SONGS –

1. 让我们荡起双桨 (Ràng wŏmen dàngqĭ shuāngjiăng) Let’s Paddle Together

It’s the story of two students rowing a boat to escape the pressures of homework and school life. Join the adventure!

2. 歌声与微笑 (Gēshēnɡ yǔ wēixiào) Singing with a Smile

This is another romantic song that could be about two young people in love who must say goodbye. Again, themes of blossoming and growing through difficult times are the themes!

3. 童年 (Tóngnián) Childhood

This song is a thoughtful and expressive story of being young and thinking about what it’s like to be older, all while looking back on the past. You can learn some poetic lyrics in this one!

4. 幸福拍手歌 (xìngfú pāishǒu gē) If You’re Happy and You Know It

This song is a translation of the popular English song. Learning this song in Chinese will help you compare the way that Chinese expresses the same ideas as English, but in a separate structure. You can compare and contrast the two languages!

These beginner-to-intermediate songs for teens generally focus on school life and friendships and have a positive outlook and slow rhythm. The lyrics begin to get more poetic than the children’s songs that you may have heard before. The subject matter is more complicated. As a Mandarin Chinese learner, you can improve your ability to be descriptive and creative with your language after becoming familiar with these songs.

At eChineseLearning, we have a unique program that allows you to learn Chinese songs for teens thought a live, 1-to-1 teacher who specializes in teaching these songs.

- BEGINNER to INTERMEDIATE ADULT SONGS –

1. 月亮代表我的心 The Moon Represents My Heart

If you’re going to impress your friends at the KTV (a Chinese karaoke center) then this is the song to learn! It’s fairly simple and easy to learn. The Moon Represents My Heart is famous for being the most popular karaoke song in China. The moon is a strong romantic symbol in Chinese and represents undying love.

2. 茉莉花 (Mòlìhuā) Jasmine Flower

Dating back hundreds of year, this is a very simple song that has a long history in China. It was featured at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. There are many lyrical variations of the song in Chinese.

3. 同桌的你 (Tóngzhuō de nǐ) The Deskmate

This bittersweet song recalls memories and diaries from classmates.

These classic songs are easy to learn and will impress your Chinese friends. These songs are used frequently in Chinese culture and can be heard today, gaining new followers and fans with every generation. Join in the fun and sing along!

All of the songs you’ve read about in this article I’d recommend learning if you’re a beginner or intermediate student, from a child to an adult. Remember, grown-ups, don’t be shy to join in with the children’s songs- they are a great way to exercise your mouth and have a little fun while you’re learning. Be a kid again!

Quiz:

1. Which of the following song is doesn’t belong to Chinese Children’s song?

A. 两只老虎 (Liǎng zhī lǎohŭ)
B. 种太阳 (Zhòng tàiyáng)
C. 茉莉花 (Mòlìhuā)
D. 小跳蛙 (Xiǎo tiàowā)
See Answer

―Written by Becky Zhang―
Becky Zhang is a teacher at eChineseLearning.com. She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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