Rhythm and Tones Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
When my first child was 2 years old, I was determined to relearn Chinese for her – and with her. At that time, Rhythm and Tones: Inventive Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese was a rare gem among the limited options. After all these years, the Rhythm and Tones book and music have continued to help our family learn to speak Mandarin Chinese.
After first writing this post in November 2018, I thought it was about time to share an update. Both of my children are now big kids in school, and Rhythm and Tones continues to be a positive influence in our bilingual home.
Review of Rhythm and Tones Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese Video Review
Rhythm and Tones was originally a set of two books with CDs that teaches language through fun, original Chinese songs and catchy rhythmic chants. In recent years, the author has been creating YouTube videos with music from these Chinese books.
How Rhythm and Tones helps with speaking Chinese
Music is one of the best ways to learn language because intriguing melodies and repetitive lyrics help people remember those words. This is especially true when the songs are relevant to our lives. And so the Rhythm and Tones music is the star of the show with its ability to help kids understand and speak the minority language.
Compared to most Chinese beginner resources that teach isolated words on flashcards, Rhythm and Tones introduces new words in sentences, chants, and songs. Specifically, Rhythm and Tones teaches the four tones of Mandarin Chinese as well as greetings, families, nature, food, sports, animals, clothing, and manners. In each lesson, realistic, colorful illustrations with diverse characters give context to the Chinese words.
Both of my children and I have picked up so many Chinese words and phrases from Rhythm and Tones.
How Rhythm and Tones helps with reading Chinese
The series includes two books with English, Simplified Chinese, and Hanyu Pinyin. The English is on a separate page from the Chinese and Pinyin. Having the ability to read Hanyu Pinyin would be helpful for reading the Chinese translations. However, while the book is not intended to teach how to read Chinese characters, if you look at the book while listening to the music, you can follow along the Chinese characters.
How Rhythm and Tones introduces Chinese culture
A few songs are dedicated to Chinese Lunar New Year and Mid Autumn Festival, two very important Chinese holidays!
Who would benefit most from Rhythm and Tones?
- Age: The red book (Rhythm and Tones 1) is appropriate for all ages including young children, while the blue book (Rhythm and Tones 2) is geared for middle and high school students.
- Fluency level: If you’re a family with minimal to no Chinese background, Rhythm and Tones is a fantastic first resource to get. Even if your family is fluent, I think the engaging book and music can still be beneficial for encouraging the minority language.
- Simplified versus traditional Chinese: Even though the books are not available in traditional Chinese, I think the music can still help kids and parents learn Mandarin.
Video of the Bilingual Rhythm and Tones Chinese Learning Book
Peek inside Rhythm and Tones and flip through the pages with me in this video!
Where to buy Rhythm and Tones Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese
- Rhythm and Tones 1 (Red Book): China Sprout
- Rhythm and Tones 2 (Blue Book): Senseio
Since these books are no longer available on Amazon, I suspect that they are no longer printing new copies. I hate to see such a great resource disappear and thus would consider ordering the books sooner versus later. Please note that I have no affiliation with the publisher, author, or bookstores. I’ve just been disheartened about the countless Chinese books that have been discontinued over the years.
Rhythm and Tones Chinese music videos on YouTube
Good news: whether or not you have the physical books, some of the Chinese Rhythm and Tones songs are on YouTube! I was so thrilled to discover that the author and music educator, Pauline Huang, has pivoted to this direction. Hopefully this makes the Chinese songs more accessible to families worldwide. Here’s a sample of a couple great Rhythm and Tones songs below.
十二生肖 | 12 Zodiac Animals
Thanks to this chant, my children have memorized the Chinese Zodiac wheel. They can name all of the zodiac animals so quickly, too!
新年到 | The New Year Is Here Chinese New Year Song
Several years ago, my daughter sang this song for a Chinese New Year celebration with other children in our community ranging from ages 4 to 15!
Has your family tried learning Chinese with Rhythm and Tones?
What are your thoughts about Rhythm and Tones: Inventive Chants and Songs for Learning Chinese? I’m so grateful for this Chinese learning resource, and I’d love to know if you find it helpful, too.