Guest Author - Heather J. Hasan
On February 7, 2008, just in time for the Chinese New Year, “Ni Hao, Kai-lan” (ni hao means "hello" in Chinese) premiered on Nick Jr. This breakthrough cartoon for preschoolers is the first show on the Nickelodeon network focused on teaching children about Chinese and Chinese-American cultures and language. Children learn many common words and counting in Mandarin in addition to an array of Chinese traditions and customs. There is even a little traditional Chinese music thrown into the mix.
The title character, Kai-lan Chow, is a lovable, bilingual preschooler who loves to explore and learn with her family and friends. She adores animals. As a matter of fact, some of her closest friends are animals, including Tolee, the thoughtful koala who likes to think he is a panda on occasion, Hoho, the sweet monkey who is the youngest and most hyper of the group, and Rintoo, the rambunctious tiger who happens to be Kai-lan’s closest friend. LuLu is a pink rhinoceros who flies around with a balloon tied to the horn on her nose. Kai-lan and the gang know that they can always count on LuLu to help in tough situations. Together, they go on adventures that teach them about the world around them and the world within themselves.
Kai-lan learns much about her Chinese heritage from her grandpa YeYe. YeYe, which means “grandfather” in Mandarin, is the best grandpa a girl could ask for! He is gentle, wise, loving, and excited to teach his granddaughter about life and Chinese culture.
Chinese culture plays a large part in society today. The economy all over the world depends a great deal on China’s economy due to its vast size and influence and more business men and women are doing business in China because of this ever-growing economy. Teaching your child about Chinese culture and the Mandarin language not only expands his knowledge of the world but also gives him or a her an advantage as they grow up in a world where speaking multiple languages is becoming increasingly crucial in careers and every-day life.
This show is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to learn about Chinese culture and the Mandarin language. The characters are lovable and fun to watch making it enjoyable for parents and children alike. Actually, I don’t have children and I love this show. Kai-lan has a fan in this big kid!
Tune in to Nick Jr. weekdays at 11 a.m. to join in the adventures with Kai-lan and her friends.