Television and Video for Bilingual Baby

One of the challenges that most parents face nowadays is the battle against TV and computers. The way the world is going it seems we will lose that one. Technology natives they call them. All these little darlings we are bringing up will breath technology. We will feel old and outdated in a few years!
Hold on! Do we have to? Well, of course not. In Spanish we say, “si no puedes con ellos, únete a ellos”, if you can’t win, then join them!

That’s it. Let’s not see computers and TV as our enemy, but our ally in our battle to protect bilingualism. I’m doing just that. Recently I asked my nephew to record from Spanish telly a handful of children’s shows, so I can play them to my daughter when she’s a bit older and so getting maximum exposure to the language. I thought DVD would be great. But I was wrong, there is even a better way, a hard disk! These days the thing to do is go smaller, instead of having hundreds of DVDs piled up and gathering dust in your shelves, have a hard disk with all your favourite shows plugged into your TV.

There's loads of great TV in other languages

It’s not a great idea if you are addicted to the X-Factor and the like, but used wisely it can be a great tool for keeping language alive. Also recording from the TV and keeping the programme for your personal use isn’t breaking any copyright rule. My nephew gave me this idea, he’s bought a hard drive for me and is recording all the appropriate children’s shows from TV.

If the shows are chosen wisely it can be a great thing even for later years when they go to school. Get your family in your home country to record good programmes about history, culture, documentaries, etc even if you are not going to watch them just now. They may come in handy when the topic comes up in school a couple of years down the line.

Some of the programmes I can recommend for Spanish kids are:
Los Lunnis, las Tres Mellizas from TVE also available on their play on demand system http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/

If you have any other suggestions, please post them below. They can be for any other languages.

YouTube as a resource for language learning

As well as off-colour clips of puking pets and teenage narcissists and that ‘Leave Britney Alone’ clip, YouTube is a great hunting ground for foreign language videos in practically any language and there’s plenty to capture the imagination of the budding bilingual baby.

It’s easy to find modern cartoons and children’s programmes but also some seriously old school stuff. Lidia has found some interesting shows she hasn’t seen since childhood. I’ve recently learned that some of my favourite childhood cartoon shows – like Dogtanian and Willy Fogg - were actually created in Spain and only later dubbed into English.

Here’s Dogtanian – AKA Dartacan – in the original language!

Many new devices now allow you to view YouTube videos on your TV, from things like the Apple TV
to Windows Media PCs. Turning a computer into a home media centre is now a pretty popular thing to do, storing all your music and movies in one place and surfing the internet, including popular video sites, from the sofa.

Before to access loads of foreign language TV, you needed to be a bit of a satellite TV buff and have your dish pointing towards the right bit of the Sky. I can see a day when the traditional TV broadcast will be a thing of the past and you will be able to bring up pretty much any film or TV show on your internet-linked TV or PC from any country, in any language. The internet makes it trivial to access Spanish media.