Learn Mandarin with Gordon & Li Li
The Gordon & Li Li board books and iPad app, created by Michele Wong McSween, are useful tools for children learning to speak Mandarin Chinese. Asianmommy received a free copy of the book series and iPad app for review.
Ms. McSween is a 4th generation Chinese American living in Brooklyn. She created the Gordon & Li Li series to help her kids learn to speak Chinese. The series is about two pandas, Gordon and Li Li, who are cousins. Gordon speaks English and lives in Brooklyn, while Li Li speaks Mandarin and lives in Beijing. They set out to learn simple, everyday words in each other's languages.
In Gordon & Li Li: Words for Everyday, Gordon and Li Li learn to say "boy," "girl," "ball," "doll," "car," "train," "book," "bath," "toilet," "toothbrush," "cup," "bowl," "apple," "banana," "shirt," "pants," "shoes," "milk," "water," "juice," and so on in English and Mandarin with Pinyin. Simplified characters are in the glossary at the back of the book.
In Gordon & Li Li: Learn Animals in Mandarin, they learn to say "alligator," "lion," "fish," "horse," "duck," "hippo," "cow," "zebra," "panda" (of course!), "dolphin," "giraffe," "monkey," "shark," "killer whale," "polar bear," "penguin," and so on in English and Mandarin with Pinyin, simplified characters, and a pronunciation guide provided on each page.
In Gordon & Li Li: Count in Mandarin, they learn to count to ten, then to count by tens to 100, again in English and Mandarin with Pinyin, simplified characters, and a pronunciation guide provided on each page.
The iPad app, "Gordon & Li Li: Learn Animals in Mandarin" has the same 28 animals depicted in the board book with English, Mandarin, and Pinyin, but also with cute animation of the characters and additional features which allow you to hear the pronunciation of the Chinese characters and to trace out the simplified characters.
What I liked: What I found most enjoyable about this series are the wonderul illustrations done by Kevin Murawski and Nam Doan, especially when brought to life by the iPad app. I also liked the simple format of the series and the inclusion of Pinyin, as well as English and simplified characters. The pronunciation guide would be very useful for those unfamiliar with Pinyin. Also, the ability to hear the pronunciation of the words and to trace out the characters on the iPad app is invaluable.
What could be improved: It would be nice if the first book, Words for Everyday, could be reprinted with the simplified characters and a pronunciation guide on each page. Otherwise, this a great series for kids starting to learn Mandarin!
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