Saturday, August 9, 2008

Is watching Dora bad?

I think it is funny when parents say their children are learning to speak Spanish while watching Dora. Yes, they are learning a few words here and there and sometimes some phrases in Spanish. I think this is a great thing for children and gives them some cultural awareness, but children are not learning how to really speak fluently in Spanish. There are some who think speaking only in Spanish is important and others who think it is okay to mix the two languages. I am a believer in complete immersion if at all possible. When I learned Spanish, by living in Honduras for 3 years as a teenager, I took classes that were only in Spanish. There was no English spoken. I started to think in Spanish. Kids will be able to speak with more fluency if they are not translating what they have to say from English to Spanish. They will be able to think and speak only in Spanish. In fact, if my kids ask me what a word means like "lobo", I try to explain to them what it is in Spanish or show them a picture instead of telling them it is a "wolf". Again, I think immersion is the best and the ideal. Immersion cannot be done in every situation. Those parents sending their kids to Spanish classes where English is spoken some is a great alternative. What are your thoughts?

I was kind of against Dora at first, but then I realized that you can dub all Dora movies completely in Spanish. This version is for kids in Spanish speaking countries to teach them a few words in English. Now we always dub Dora in Spanish and the kids get lots of great Spanish. I really love it because the characters speak very clearly and they are easy to understand. They do teach the kids a few English words in every episode. My 4 year-old gets a kick out of using English and Spanish and I don't think a little bit hurts.

Only some of the Dora episodes are dubbed in Spanish (Summer Explorer, Puppy Power, Dora Undercover, Dora's First Trip and Shy Rainbow) or buy special editions that are dubbed in Spanish that can be found here-

Another series we love to dub is Magic School Bus. They speak pretty fast and the vocabulary is more advanced, but my girls also like to watch these. I plan on using these more as they get older. For those with boys, Diego can also be dubbed completely into Spanish. I like Diego, but my girls prefer Dora.

*Most of these same videos can be dubbed in French also!

Hope this helps someone! Also, please tell me your thoughts on complete immersion versus mixing English and Spanish.


We are Little Amigos said...

my opinion on total immersion... I think if the parent/caregiver is fluent in the 2nd language, than by all means, immerse the child in the 2nd language as much as possible. It's what I do with my two boys. However, with monolingual parents trying to learn a 2nd language and raise their children bilingual, they certainly have more work to do, and I commend them for their efforts. Monolingual parents sometimes have no choice but to find "monolingual friendly" programs and products that gives them the ability to follow along, so that they can better teach their kids.

Jessica said...

I think immersion is ideal. That's why I sent my first daughter to Spanish-immersion classes and for some time hired a Spanish-speaking babysitter who only spoke Spanish to her.

When our (monolingual) family could no longer keep up those kinds of experiences, we had to create ways to pump as much Spanish into our daily life as we could.

We depend a great deal on watching Spanish kid-shows and videos. What we do is watch the shows in English a few times first, then watch it in Spanish. My girls are able to make connections between the two languages that way.

Dora and Diego are good starts, but I wanted more than a Spanish word here and there.

For my girls, Dora is a good motivation factor because they want to speak Spanish and English "just like Dora." And when I hear them use Spanish, I'll encourage them by saying, "You said that just like Dora!" or "You speak Spanish just like Dora!"

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

tati said...

That's a great idea to motivate them by telling them they sound like Dora. My girls love Dora too and it has made learning Spanish more exciting because all girls their age love Dora. My daughter also gets a big kick out of books like La Pelota Perdida that mixes both Spanish and English.

I applaud monolingual parents also! It would be hard having your children learn a language you did not know at all!

Thanks for your thoughts!

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