Last weekend a mate and I decided we’d go to the movies to see Disney Pixar’s ‘Coco’ which was running dangerously close to the end of its run time in cinemas, and boy did we learn a lesson.
After having saved money on the ticket price by smugly booking the tickets on an entirely Chinese language app we were feeling pretty good about our survivability in China.
That smugness lasted until we picked up the physical tickets at the cinema and was asked by the ticketing concierge (translated by a nearby cinema patron) whether we had realised that we had booked the 5:15pm Chinese language version of the movie rather than the 9pm English language version..
Chinese version! … Dubbing is still a thing?!
(Asks the guy who still watches the 25 language version of ‘Let it Go’ on YouTube).
I was affronted with the realisation that the tickets we’d bought were for a dubbed version of the movie, something I naively hadn’t prepared for the possibility of ahead of time.
I guess I’m so use to seeing films targeted at adults where it’s much more likely the film will be in its original language, but with Chinese subtitles added.
Kids however are not expected to watch the film and keep up with rapidly changing lines of text underneath the action.
I however want to take this opportunity to play devils advocate here and protest dubbing, even for children.
I am the poorer friend of several people living in various cities around China charging squillions to teach China’s little ones to speak English as quickly and eloquently as possible so that it sounds as natural as possible by the time they’re powerful adults.
After spending all week giving your child daily one on one English lessons and paying a fortune for it, doesn’t it seem like a good idea to make them sit through a Disney movie on a Saturday evening in English? It can only boost their learning to hear it in a natural and Disneyfied setting for 2 hours.
Perhaps Coco is a bad example, what with all the Spanish and all… but I stand by the principle!
As a kid I sat through the Chinese language film ‘Hero’ in the cinema with only subtitles to help me.
Sure I missed lots of the dialogue, but I got the plot and had a blast watching all the fight scenes.
To the parents of the world I, the single and childless airhead tell you the following..
Make your child watch movies in their original language, especially Disney movies.If they don’t understand anything then well, the movie sure is pretty.
If they do then great! It’ll bolster their English education and provide positive English language memories and experiences.
The more that kids are exposing themselves to organic English experiences the better their own speaking will become, especially because watching a Disney movie is a lot more fun than a traditional English lesson.
Now with this inspiration go sit through the original Japanese version of ‘The Ring’ and be prepared to hate me forever