Liang zhi Laohu: Two Tigers song

One great way to learn Chinese, or any language, is through songs. Usually they rhyme, are short and catchy, repeat limited language, and are pleasant to sing over and over. Many unilingual anglophones can sing Frere Jacques in French.

In Chinese, one of the first I learned was the Little Friends song, Zhao Pengyou. Apparently little kids in China sing this on their first day in preschool or kindergarten… they sing “look for a friend, find a friend, salute them, shake hands, you are my good friend” together with cute hand movements.

I learned this on and was delighted when I got to China, and Big Boy, who was 22 months old, obviously knew it. When I would sing, he would put his hand over his eyes as if he were searching and bob up and down, and stick his hand out for shaking on “wo wo shou” (shake hands). So not only is learning songs fun and educational, it is a good cultural bridge as well. I am reminded of my delight at 11 years old, when I went to Sweden with my dad and grandmother, to learn that my Swedish cousins knew “Eensy Weensy Spider” in Swedish!

Lately, Big Boy’s favorite Chinese kids’ song is Liang zhi Laohu (Two Tigers).

It goes like this:

Liang zhi lao hu
Liang zhi lao hu
Pao de kuai
Pao de kuai
Yi zhi mei you wei ba
Yi zhe mei you er duo
Zhen qi guai!
Zhen qi guai!

Sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” (Are you sleeping, Brother John)

In English:

Two tigers
Two tigers
Run fast
Run fast
One has no tail
One has no ears
How very strange!
How very strange!

Here he is singing it, despite his self-proclaimed aversion to Chinese:

The funny thing is now when he sings it, I say “I don’t like Chinese! Don’t sing that in Chinese! I only like English! No Chinese!” as he tends to do when I want to read something in Chinese. And he gets all stubborn and asks my “Why? Why no Chinese? I like Chinese! I knowing Chinese!” and then sings Liang zhi laohu again! 😀 Nothing like a little reverse psychology!

Here it is at Two Tigers song. It is also included on Mei Mei Hu’s “Speak and Sing Chinese with Mei Mei” cd, or with more explanation on the accompanying dvd “Play and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei”, which Big Boy loves.

I always thought that this song is so fun for kids, and could be taught to a classroom with puppets for instance, and then tonight I found that someone has indeed just recently turned it into a Chinese-teaching guide. Sam Song, who has written other Chinese as a foreign language teaching materials has put out Learn Chinese Through Song! The Popular Chinese Nursery Rhyme TWO TIGERS”

Two Tigers: Sam Song book

Two Tigers: Sam Song book

It’s very interesting, in that he teaches first word by word, in pinyin (how I wrote the lyrics above) and characters, then phrase by phrase (ie mei you means “doesn’t have” and wei ba means “tail”) and then sentence by sentence, so one has a complete comprehension of the whole text.

He also describes clearly tones and shows stroke order for writing characters. And finally has flash cards for all the words! You can see images online at the US Amazon site: Two Tigers

It really looks like a wonderful teaching too. He apparently has audio online as well, that links up with the book, word by word, phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence. It is an affordable $12.42 cdn or $11.49 US.

So, do you have any favorite foreign language songs that you found instrumental in your early learning journey? How about Chinese nursery rhymes to recommend?

3 responses to “Liang zhi Laohu: Two Tigers song

  1. So Adorable!! Funny I just taped my boys singing this song today too. Your story is amazing! Thank you for all the encouragement and I will be looking forward to your new posts I subscribed today to your Blog. Feichang Hao!! Ganxie Ni!

  2. This is a GREAT video – Tao Tao is so much bigger since the last video I saw : ) Great singer too…

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Big Boy and Xiao Chien

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