Edutainment, as an educational/media concept, isn’t exactly new. In the late 1960s public television introduced us to a little show that just about all of us have grown up with – yes, that’s Sesame Street. From there, other networks, directors and producers took the educational television model and put it to use in their own ways. This went well beyond the A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s, and into other subjects such as science, history and foreign languages.
Research on educational television does show that it can in fact positively affect a child’s ability to learn. In a report by PBS, the experts note that TV that encourages social and cognitive (that’s mental) growth is entirely possible, as long as the creators of the programs understand (and play to) the ways that children learn.
Between the bright cartoon colors, the interactive nature of the shows and the repetition (your child has the chance to watch the show over and over again, reinforcing the skill or words), it’s likely that your child will indeed learn something. That said, educational foreign language shows aren’t a means to an end and they shouldn’t become ‘the’ way to teach your child.
Why Watch Educational TV?
If you’re still on the fence when it comes to language edutainment, think about it this way: It’s not a class, it’s not an immersion program and it’s not a tutoring session. But, it is a simple (and probably enjoyable) way to pick up a few extra words. And bonus, it may even help you to learn something too. This allows you to repeat the word (or words) to your child regularly.
Let’s say Dora is saying the Spanish word for grandmother “abuela” (if you’ve watched the show, you’ve probably heard this something like a ten-thousand times). Your child hears the word over and over again, and starts repeating it to you. Has your child mastered Spanish? No. Did your child learn a new word that they’re likely to use regularly? Yes.
How do you feel about educational TV? Share your answer in the comments section below.