KidVid: Learning Spanish with Las Estaciones
Why is total immersion the best way to learn a foreign language? One reason is that total immersion involves hearing words in conversational context rather than reading or hearing individual words and phrases. In a total immersion situation, the learner becomes familiar with the sound of the language while learning the words and grammar. Total immersion does not imply sink or swim (submersion), which is exactly the situation in which children are placed when they are enrolled in a school where everyone speaks another language. Trying to adjust to new homes and a new society, they are bombarded with words they do not understand. The speed at which they learn their second language impresses the adult mind. With immersion, the language to be learned is used to teach (rather than translate), and is the way toddlers learn their first language.
The Whistlefritz series of Spanish learning DVDs for children (ages two through seven) uses a Spanish immersion approach to introduce kids to a second language. The latest entry, Spanish for Kids: Las Estaciones (“The Seasons), uses mouse Fritzi’s birthday party as a springboard to learning the four seasons, different weather conditions, types of clothing, and seasonal activities, as well as basic conversation skills.
Hosted by the pretty and personable “Maria” (Sara Jerez), Las Estaciones features limited animation, and a cast of children who reinforce pronunciation and star in film clips illustrating the seasons. A number of lively, Latin, kid-friendly songs adds to the fun. Included with the DVD is a list of words and phrases with English translations and tips. Adults are advised to watch the video with their children to help the kids learns, but—based on empirical evidence—the roles will soon be reversed and the children will be assisting the adults (“No, Gramma, not ‘nuevo,’ ‘nieve.’). Adults are encouraged to practice words with their kids whenever possible.
Clear enunciation and gestures that illustrate words make learning even easier with Las Estaciones. It is a cheerful, fun lesson for los niños that will have them picking up Spanish words and phrases very quickly. Since English is not spoken at all, Las Estaciones is appropriate for speakers of any language who are interested in learning Spanish.