Ni Hao, Kai-Ian

Quick — what language is spoken by more than one billion of the world’s people, in a country that’s fast emerging as an economic powerhouse? If you guessed Chinese, you’d be right. So it’s no surprise that a new show has cropped up to prep preschoolers in Mandarin, giving them a head start in competing on a global scale.

It’s only natural that Nick Jr. look to copy the successful formula of Ni Hao, Kai-Ian incredibly popular animated predecessor, a certain Spanish-speaking exploradora, and the comparisons are inevitable. Both shows feature spunky girls with oversize heads and large brown eyes, though Dora is 7 and Kai-lan clocks in at 5 3/4. Both shows bust out in catchy (some might say unshakable) eureka songs: Dora has ”We Did It” and Ni Hao has ”We Got It,” a kind of celebratory ode to an episode’s challenge — be it sharing or helping a friend get over his fear of rollerskating. And most importantly, there’s the part where the audience is invited to repeat a word. Here’s where it gets drastically different…because unlike Spanish, Mandarin is really hard to pronounce. Want to say red, for example? Spanish’s rojo vs. hóngsè? In a language where intonation means everything, it may take longer than the entire episode to get it right. B

Ni Hao, Kai-Ian
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