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November 9, 2010 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me refresh my Spanish at the same time that my 8 month old acquires it. Where can we watch Spanish-language cartoons online?

After college I spent a winter working in Mexico. By the time I left the country, I had a decent functional (though not conversational) command of the language. But that was six years ago. My Spanish has through disuse atrophied considerably. I find that I can read with pretty good comprehension (though slowly) and I can express myself clumsily, but I can't do more than pick out a word here and there when I hear someone speaking Spanish on the street.

My daughter is eight months old and has progressed from constant random babbling to more intentional utterances and occasional mimicry. It seems like if we want her to acquire a second language naturally, we need to start soon.

The plan is to restrict her television time to Spanish language programs only, but Netflix doesn't seem to offer streaming in Spanish. I know I could request multi-language DVDs from them, but experience has shown that I'm simply unable to keep a physical Netflix queue going without losing the discs, forgetting to return them, or forgetting to add new DVDs to my queue. Is there anywhere online that we can watch Spanish-language cartoons (either originally Spanish, or dubbed). Ideally, they would subtitled in English to help me stay up to speed.

Or any other suggestions for ways to help my refresh my Spanish at the same time as she acquires hers? I know that if I can get comfortable enough in the language to speak to her in it regularly around the house, then it'll greatly help her learn. I have a pretty low tolerance for other new parents, so I'd rather avoid any sort of organised play-group type activities for the time being.

Oh, and I know about Dora the Explorer but, unless you can find me the Spanish language version somewhere, it really seems to be aimed at building a small Spanish vocabulary for monolingual children rather than encouraging bilingualism
posted by 256 to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pocoyo! Pocoyo is a cartoon written and developed in Spain, and it's originally in Castillian Spanish. There are English versions of the episodes, narrated by Stephen Fry. Pocoyo himself is a 4 year old boy who has all sorts of adventures with his friends, a duck, a dog, some birds, and a pink elephant. It is really cute.

All of the Pocoyo episodes are really short, and a fair chunk of them are on YouTube. If you want the Spanish version, the show's name in Spanish is actually Pocoy├│, so search under that term.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know that if I can get comfortable enough in the language to speak to her in it regularly around the house, then it'll greatly help her learn.

This is the most important part! I don't have a direct answer to your question, but some background that might help you think about how you want to go about this.

If your goal is for your child to be learning Spanish like a native speaker would ("acquire a second language naturally"), you probably will want to consider finding a way for your daughter to interact with Spanish-speakers. Research on child language acquisition has found that children do not learn language from television the way they can learn it from another speaker. In general, babies learn much more from interaction than from "overheard" speech.

This website is a little breathless about the dangers of television but gives a good description of one relevant study (scroll down to the part about Mandarin.) Essentially, a Mandarin speaker reads books to and generally uses language and plays with a young baby; the baby is able to understand sounds from Mandarin several months later. Take the video of the same speaker and show it to a second baby, the second baby is *not* able to understand the same sounds in a followup test.

So, if you absolutely can't abide play groups, you might think about working on your own Spanish independently and speaking it with your daughter (if the cartoons accomplish this, then great!) And maybe look into something like a bilingual/Spanish immersion preschool down the line :)
posted by heyforfour at 10:15 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pocoyo ROCKS! It is the only cartoon my 3 1/2 year old watches that I consistently put down my stuff & watch with her. Definitely seconding it, both as a learning tool for language AND as a learning tool & social model for kidlet. And yes, we watch it on YouTube. Is suspect if we ever wander away from Pocoyo, there's probably a mountain of other age/language ability -apropriate videos on YouTube as well, so go there & explore.
posted by Ys at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2010

ps: Kids DO learn language skills from watching a lot of foreign language TV. My kidlet's cousin lives in an all Spanish household --no English whatsoever-- but was speaking English well enough not to be put in remedial classes when he started school. You might also want to check JustinTV.com They do a lot of free Spanish language programming (you might need to set the default language to Spanish to find it. Not specifically child oriented, but Spanish-language Dragonball Z is one of my SO's favorite time-killers.
posted by Ys at 10:34 AM on November 9, 2010

You can watch episodes of Bob Esponja! There is a list of online episodes on the left, and other links can be found on the site.
posted by bolognius maximus at 11:13 AM on November 9, 2010

Las Tres Mellizas has a website with some video, and they are also on YouTube.

For an 8 month old, the words are appropriate, and it's a very cute cartoon.

Sorry no link embedded, I don't know how to do that.
posted by Stellaboots at 12:39 PM on November 9, 2010

I've watched Plaza Sesamo (Sesame Street in Spanish) on either Telemundo or Univision, but I've spent a lot of time on their websites and I can't find any children's programming mentioned at all. I tried googling "watch online Plaza Sesamo" and only found a few mentions of it. I'll keep looking.
posted by CathyG at 5:01 PM on November 9, 2010

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