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Can kids learn foreign language watching tv?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My 3yo dd watches a few preschool-age shows per week. I'm thinking of switching to letting her watch shows only in Spanish. My reasoning is that she might pick up some vocabulary and become familiar with Spanish pronunciation, making it easier to use Rosetta Stone when she's older. And while I don't want to make watching in a foreign language punitive on any level, if it decreased her desire to watch tv, that would be okay with me too.

Anyone tried this? Would it work for beginning to learn a language?
post #2 of 12
IDK but what DS did on occassion was switch dvd's over from english to spanish when he was younger and he also turned off the sound and turned on the CC and would 'read' then. The CC was how he learned to read so....
post #3 of 12
I had a friend in Guatemala who spoke pretty well in English and he claims to have learned it all from watching American movies.

post #4 of 12
Originally Posted by Marimami View Post
I had a friend in Guatemala who spoke pretty well in English and he claims to have learned it all from watching American movies.

My DH is Polish and learned English from watching sit coms LOL
post #5 of 12
When we were in Sweden, we were amazed at how fluent everyone was in English - really, they were more fluent in general than people in any other European country we went to (except of course Ireland and the UK ) and their accents were perfect. And the Swedish language is not at all similar to English.

Everyone told us that this is because Swedish TV is never dubbed - they always used subtitles. Most countries dub, at least some of the time. I know that's only anecdata, but it really was amaing. Even the young woman working at McDonalds spoke fluent English without a foreign accent.
post #6 of 12
Research shows that it helps a lot.... My favorite personal anecdote is of a Dutch street musician I was friendly with who spoke excellent English. He'd left school at 15 and had been in a total marijuana haze for a decade. One day I asked him how he spoke English so well and he told me in perfectly accented English that he had spent most of his teens sitting around the house stoned watching tv in English.

Here on the Iberian peninsula, they say the Portuguese speak English much better than the Spanish because they don't dub their programming. Spain dubs everything and the population is generally stuck at a pre-intermediate level in spite of beginning classes very early and continuing for years and years in school.... something obviously is not working!

My kids switch languages around a lot in their viewing but will also willingly watch some cool things in languages they don't understand- animation shorts, The Red Balloon, White Mane are things that come to mind. I would try and find cool stuff that's only available in the target language or a web game or something. I would also bring in music in the target language for the car, etc. We also always have subtitles going... I'm addicted, even in my own language!

If you're looking for Spanish, Pocoyo's not bad for a 3 year old and easy to follow and maybe some Barrio Sesamo.... each country produces it's own show, so while the characters are sort of consistent, the stories and personalities differ from country to country.
post #7 of 12
"research" (i.e. I haven't seen said research myself, but it's referenced in book) suggests that it's not really possible to learn a language from passive viewing. However, that was apparently based on babies, and based on videos designed for babies. Meaning no depth of story, no depth of language.

Anecdotally, I know of one adult who ended up speaking a very archaic form of Japanese from samurai movies. The Japanese person who told me about her friend described it as being like talking to someone who had learned English from Shakespeare's plays.
post #8 of 12
I would think that hearing a language often would at least help give you an "ear" for that language, making it easier to pick it up, even if you don't learn to speak it that way.
post #9 of 12
Ages 0-5 are the best years to pick up a second language. My small girl watches some Dora here and there during the week and can count to 10 in Spanish and uses other Spanish phrases properly and she's 23 months old.
post #10 of 12
Yea, my response was more appropriate for a motivated young adult.

I personally would not want my child exposed to the amount of TV that would probably be necessary to be immersed enough in a foreign language in order to learn it.

But, I'm not really clear if your goal is for language mastery or television aversion. We were electronic media free with DD at that age but we listened to Spanish music all the time. She picked up a lot just from doing that. But, we had music on in the background nearly 24/7 at that age.

post #11 of 12
YES!! Do it and music. If nothing else they learn the sounds. The might be able to hear the words better than they can speak it but it will open doors to further foreign language learning.
post #12 of 12
I don't think you can learn a language just from watching TV, but it can certainly help. Most of the movies my kids watch are in French and they've picked up loads of new vocabulary and have lovely accents (we also go to Quebec a lot and DH is French so it's not all movie watching). DD12 recently started listening to Arabic radio and has found that to be very helpful. Really, I think anything where native speakers are involved and the vocabulary is beyond that of a basic beginner text is great.
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