Bright, colourful and musical Spanish language learning

Tren de vocalesLong gone are the days of chalky fingers and monochromatic lessons delivered in a monotone voice heavy with the local accent. Just like the monkey-man in 2001 A Space Odyssey set up a long chain of events when he realised that using rock as a tool was a lot cooler than trying to open a coconut with his teeth, language geeks all over felt the Eureka moment when the first computer entered their homes.  [Read more...]

Baby on Skype

Yesterday we had our first session on Skype with granny’s new computer. It’s actually not HER computer, but her neighbour’s computer. You see, when there is a baby involved people are prepared to go the extra mile!

Anyway, our first session went well. Cameras worked, voice worked, internet worked. It was only about five minutes on Skype, but granny sure enjoyed seeing her little new grandchild life on a screen.

At the moment M doesn’t pay much attention to the screen. For her the keyboard is a new thing to play with, and from time to time she’s also amused by the sounds and the image coming from the screen. But I’m happy that I’m maximizing her exposure to her mother tongue through these sessions, and eventually she’ll grow to appreciate those moments spent talking online with granny from Spain.

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.