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Journeys to the East-The River Dragon King Review by Maggi Beardsley

Journeys to the East-The River Dragon King is a 40 minute animated DVD in English that teaches Chinese. The intended audience is children ages 3 and up. It has been approved by the Dove Foundation for family viewing.

This DVD has two main characters, Jason and Jenny, that travel on an adventure in ancient China. The animated characters look like real children. The style of the DVD is similar to Dora the Explorer and Dragon Tales. The children find a book and are transported back to ancient China. They meet the River Dragon King. While they are trying to help the King, they learn Chinese along the way. There are English subtitles in the movie. When a Chinese word is introduced it is shown in simplified Chinese characters and phonetic spelling. When new words are introduced they are repeated in creative fashion a few times. By the end of the movie, children have been introduced to over 50 vocabulary words involving colors, fruits, body parts and basic greetings. They also learn six songs. The website provides a short clip from the movie. You can read testimonials about the DVD too.

We used this DVD in our homeschool to introduce the Mandarin language. My target audience was a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. They loved it! The 9-year-old didn't stay long to watch the movie. A homeschooling family would use this DVD to introduce the Chinese language, both in sound and in script. The story has a scene where Jason and Jenny kneel and pray to the River Dragon King. A family could use this scene to talk about the religions in China. To really study the Chinese language, a student would need advanced materials.

My daughter has asked to study the Chinese language for a few years. I have a difficult time hearing the tonal sounds in Chinese so I wasn't sure what program to start her off with. I speak two languages well and am acquainted with a few more, yet I only lasted one day in a Chinese language class. Journeys to the East-The River Dragon King was a great DVD for her. She was able to hear native speakers use the language in context. Sometimes a word was introduced with just a picture and then labeled in English. As a former foreign language instructor, I found the presentation of language to be excellent. There was some immersion, a lot of context and a theme for the whole movie. This movie did prove to me that my daughter is interested in the Chinese language and can hear the different sounds of the words. I will now search for more advanced materials. The cost of this DVD is very reasonable. By the end of the DVD, both of my daughters were asking for red apples in Chinese.

At times, the DVD went too quickly for me. My children were able to keep up with the language, but I needed a few times with the DVD. I'm glad that I watched it with them or I wouldn't have understood them when they asked for those red apples. I am hoping that Mandarin Advantage will continue to make videos. Maybe they could even recommend a book for advanced study.

Journeys to the East-The River Dragon King is a great introductory DVD for the Chinese language. It is also a good leisure video for preschoolers and young elementary students. Good job Mandarin Advantage!

Product Review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2008