Anyone used "Muzzy" language tapes? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 12:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone used the Muzzy language tapes? What do you think of them? I just got an ad for them in the mail and they seem like a neat idea.

My only concern is that it requires watching videos. My DD is almost 11 months - the ad says that you can use them as young as 1yr (the younger the better, b/c of language developement), but I don't know if I want my 1yr old watching tv, even if it is educational, KWIM?

Anyway, just wanted to get some input. BTW, I'm cross-posting this in Early Education. Wasn't sure where the best place was. Thanks for your input!
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#2 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 09:29 AM
 
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My ds took French in school this year (once per week, for 45 minutes before school), and the Muzzy videos were part of that course. He enjoyed them, and I have to say he picked up the basics of the language fairly quickly. French was my language in school and university, and it's kind of neat to hear my 9YO try to articulate something in a language besides English.

That's been my only experience with the program, but I've not heard anything negative either.

April
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#3 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 11:31 AM
 
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I also just saw an ad for these tapes and am, frankly, appauled!
The AAP suggests ZERO hours of television watching for under 2's for a reason.
And, anyway, research shows that language has to be 'live' for the brain to be imprinted.
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#4 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Zealsmom - can you explain what you mean about language having to be "live" for it to be imprinted? Does that mean that when language is developing, babies will only pick up language from real life and not what they hear on TV or in music, etc? That seems confusing to me...what is the difference?

Thanks.
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#5 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 11:47 AM
 
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I know a couple of people who ordered Muzzy and then returned it. They found some of the sequences inappropriate for children. In one sequence (on a German tape) Muzzy was obessed with a girl and was stocking her.

I've also heard from people who sorta liked the tapes who said their kids would perfer watching ANYTHING other than Muzzy.

Lyric Language has nice and inexpensive cassettes with bi-lingual songs. A phrase is sung in English, and then in the other language. Very nice, cheap, and nothing objectional. (AND NO TV) These would be fine background for a 1 year old.

Also Berliotz (sp??) has a nice book and tape for young children called Teddy Berliotz. The child listens to the tape in the foreign lanuage while looking at the pictures. I think a child would need to be at least 3.
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#6 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 12:03 PM
 
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Sure, I'll explain. Sorry for being brief before.

A quote from You Are Your Child's First Teacher (since I'm sure I can't say it any better:

"Language needs to come from a living source and be related to events, emotional contexts, and cause and effect relationships in a child's life in order for the synapses to register in meaningful ways that the child will remember. So much for educational TV and preschooler's language development." page 80,
in reference to a study about the development in speech and vocabulary and syntax boosting effects of 'live' language. Live language meaning in direct "relation to ongoing events or it is just noise"!

Also, I have been attending workshops and reading a lot lately (the past few years) about brain research and how language is acquired. I just had this very same conversation with a brain researcher named Ken Wesson who is in the San Jose area. It's widely known and accepted that the brain needs the language to be 'live' (sorry for the redundancy of the word 'live', there just doesn't seem to be a better word to describe it.
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#7 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 04:11 PM
 
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zealsmom,

Interesting post! It is widely accepted that young children don't learn language skills from TV, no matter how "good" the programing. We lived in French speaking Canada for a while. When we first got there my kids were 2 and 3 1/2. They didn't care if a show was in English (their language) or French (a language that they had never heard before). For a while, they couldn't even tell they difference. By the time we left the kids were 3 1/2 and 5 and they could tell the difference and perfered to watch English TV, but didn't mind French. My oldest DD is nearing 6 now and can no longer stand to watch TV in a language she doesn't understand.

BTW, they didn't learn any French from TV. They learned a little from life and from cassettes that we did together, but none from watching PBS type shows or Disney films in French.
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#8 of 9 Old 04-29-2002, 06:55 PM
 
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I got this same ad -- twice, actually, once addressed to my name and once to Mrs. DHsLastName : ...and I spent about a half hour mocking the ad to dh, so you can probably guess that the short version is, "I think these tapes are a stoopid idea."

I don't have the ad handy, but let me see if I can remember some of the reasons I thought it would be a total waste of money:

First, I really hated the ad. They talked about improving your child's SAT scores, and frankly I don't have a lot of respect for anyone who's obsessing on SAT scores already when their child is a toddler. Good grief. If you really do want to improve your child's SAT scores, then READ to them, for God's sake. The #1 factor in whether someone has a really high Verbal SAT score is whether they read a lot. How do you raise an obsessive reader? You read to them when they're young. You keep reading to them when they're older. You give them books. You subscribe to newspapers and magazines. You let them see you reading. You do not, needless to say, plop them down in front of videos. Yuck.

To make matters worse, they demonstrated some classic statistical fallacies in their claims. Yes, technically it is TRUE that children who take a foreign language have higher SAT scores (both verbal and math). This is not necessarily because learning a foreign language will improve your English language skill (although to some extent it does). The fact is that good students are much more likely to take a foreign language (rather than using that hour for Auto Mechanics or Pottery) (no disrespect intended here to students who take auto mechanics or pottery in high school -- I loved my art classes...just saying that students with lousy academic skills will seek out alternatives that require less academic work) and good students tend to score better on the SAT. Duh.

Moving on to other objections. The ad clearly wants you to believe that these tapes will make your children bilingual for life. Well, at best, I'd say that these tapes will give you children who, years later, can still count to ten in French, Spanish, German, or Italian (just as many, many people our age learned to count to ten in Spanish from Sesame Street). Sure, it's nice to be able to count to ten in a foreign language. I can count to ten in six foreign languages. That's about the extent of my knowledge of German, French, Bangladeshi, and Hebrew, though, and needless to say, my ability to count to ten didn't do me a whole lot of good while visiting France. (I've never been to Germany, Bangladesh, or Israel, but I suspect my ability to count to ten in those languages wouldn't help me much there, either.)

The tapes also sell the idea that all you need to have bilingual children is exposure through the TV set. This is simply not true. The only way children become bilingual is if PEOPLE are speaking two languages to them CONSTANTLY. Children can learn Spanish from a nanny who is a native Spanish speaker and speaks Spanish all the time. Children can learn a native language plus English if the native language is spoken at home most of the time. But it's harder than you'd think! I talked to a Tibetan family with a toddler who lived in Madison, Wisconsin, several years ago. Their child was kind of slow to learn to speak, and friends said, "Oh, you're confusing her -- switch to just English for a while," so they did. Their daughter quickly started speaking English. They then switched back to both Tibetan and English, but their daughter would ignore the Tibetan and refuse to speak it.

Even if your child grows up in a fully bilingual home, they will often rebel at some point and refuse to speak the other language. Some other family friends adopted two children, one of whom was a little boy from Paraguay. To ensure that Carlos had access to Hispanic culture as he got older, the father spoke exclusively Spanish to them (he was really fluent and comfortable with the language). They did learn Spanish, but at some point they started refusing to speak it, in or out of the home. This is definitely not a uniquely American phenomenon. One of my father's cousins is a professor who lives in Japan. His children REFUSE to speak English in the home; they will speak only Japanese.

Finally, languages require a lot of reinforcement or children will forget everything they used to know. When my sister was in nursery school, she got a classmate who spoke only French. His family had lived in Liberia but had just moved back to the U.S. because his mother had suffered a disabling car accident. For several months the boy got by just with French (one of the nursery school teachers spoke French) but then he slowly started learning English. And switched over completely, abandoning French. In high school, he signed up for French classes, but he had to learn the language from scratch, and did not find it any easier than his classmates (and he had the accent of an American who'd learned French at school, not a Liberian).

I see these tapes as part of the mainstream corporate conspiracy to sell us on the idea that to be good parents, we need to BUY OUR KIDS A LOT OF STUFF. This is BS. There's no easy way to teach your kids a foreign language, but if you really want to do it, meeting some non-English-speakers in your community and spending time learning their language, with your children, is a lot more likely to be successful than plopping your kids down in front of a TV set, no matter WHAT'S on. And reading to your children will build the foundation for academic success with ANYTHING.
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#9 of 9 Old 04-30-2002, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Zealsmom - thanks for the explanation. That makes a lot of sense, now that I think about it. My DH also mentioned that maybe it has to do with with being able to see the facial expressions and mouth movements. I had not heard that before (about only being able to learn language "live"), and had not thought about it much.

Naomi - thanks for your response. You bring up several good points. I know first-hand that learning a second language at a young age does not make you bilingual; I just hadn't thought about it. I lived in Germany when I was young, and started school there. At 9 years old (when we returned to the US) I spoke it more or less fluently. Now I know only a handful of words/phrases (and virtually no grammar), even after taking German in both highschool and college. Oh well.

Linda and Veggiewolf - thank you for your input as well.

We won't be buying Muzzy. Thanks!
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