say it in Spanish!

October 21, 2009 at 11:53 pm (pieces of me, random Puffs)

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

- Cardinal Ximénez, as played by Michael Palin
 (Monty Python’s Flying Circus)
Kids are fast learners. ‘Specially little ones. Young children can learn multiple languages like it ain’t no thang – or so I’ve read. Since babies begin life as a blank slate, their little brains are designed to absorb everything they see and hear. Learning two or three languages isn’t really adding too much more to the everything they’re already learning – so when properly instructed, they do! This is just another one of the amazing super-powers that children under the age of five are in possession of – more on infantile super-powers later. But the thing about kids is that, although they learn from everything they come in contact with, they learn best from their family. . .
My Puff is precocious, and I’m sure she’d be bi-lingual if we spoke multiple languages in our home. But we don’t. . . However, nearly every ‘educational’ television show (along with several toys we no longer own) insist on attempting to teach her Spanish. Which drives me CRAZY! Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Spaniards, Mexicans, or Florida (*wink* for my non-Spanish-speaking Floridian friends), and I guess the Spanish language is okay. *shrug* I know its commonly spoken in many parts of the U.S. – but it isn’t here. To be honest, if T learns a second language, I’d rather it be my mother’s native Italian, so she could converse with various family members. Or Japanese, so she could translate my favorite anime. Spanish means nothing to me. I don’t speak it, and I doubt I ever will.
Again, I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way. If T learned Spanish, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Anything that enlightens my kid’s mind is swell in my book. It’s just that. . . well, she needs an actual living teacher. Puff learns things from the TV all the time, but Spanish?! Isn’t that a bit much to expect? My daughter’s television time is limited to about an hour a day at most, so maybe thats part of the problem. . . I just don’t think that Dora the Explorer (and all the others) is getting her point through when she insists on repeating every word she utters again – in Spanish. Why do I think this?
Because of conversations like this:

T is sitting on her daddy’s lap, counting her fingers (apparently she has 12?)

Dad puts up a couple of his own digits for her to number. . .

D: How many fingers am I holding up?

T: TWO! . . . in Spanish! *beams proudly*

I want to be perfectly clear. T did NOT say “dos,” which I believe is the Spanish word for ‘two.’ she said “TWO!. . .in Spanish!”
And this isn’t the first time that she’s said things “in Spanish.” And yeah, its cute! It’s funny. . .but she’s obviously isn’t getting it, and I really wish that PBS and NickJR would stick to trying to teach my kid things in English! I’d much rather her favorite television characters offered her an english synonym for the word, rather than repeating the same one in another language entirely.
If I wanted her to learn Spanish, I would find someone to teach her – or let her watch her cartoons on the Spanish network.
Just my two cents. . . for what they’re worth!


  1. Saumya said,

    He he he…I agree when U ask these channles to stick to English…My girl don’t speak Spanish but coz of Handy Manny and Dora, she is trying to count like “Uno. Dos”. I guess I would be checking the place for her in language school here…. I agree that if we let them learn before they touch 5th year, they can speak more then 2 languages. Mine already speaks English and Hindi. We are looking for french or spanish. Lets see!!!!

  2. Sarah Benedict said,

    I’m right there with you. Everything, toys and cartoons alike, are trying to teach our kids Spanish…What is wrong with English? It annoys me to the point that my kids don’t watch Dora.

  3. Me said,

    Saumya – She’s such a smart kid, I have no doubt that she’ll be able to learn three languages!

    Sarah – Yeah, T’s not really allowed to watch Dora, either. Not because of the Spanish, but because that show drives ME crazy! That girl is irritating! I thank God that it isn’t one of her favorites!!!

  4. wecki77 said,

    I’m with you. I would LOVE for Tori to learn another language (Spanish probably being best since it is so widely used here). Now, let me remind you and others, I teach LOTS of Spanish speaking students. I love to teach them. When they get some “free time” in class or are working together, I don’t mind that they speak in Spanish with each other (I can understand enough to know when to stop them). However, I have to agree about the toys and tv. When Tori watches TV, we are there with her…discussing what is going on. If we aren’t right there with her, it’s because it is Cinderella or Tinker Bell for the 100th time, but she repeats everything we’ve ever discussed. It’s hard to try to discuss when it’s another language thrown in there. I used to speak French fluently (it was my minor). I used to sing the abc’s in English then in French to Tori…she loved it. She would request it in French (poor Daddy…he could not do such a thing). She doesn’t really request the abc’s much now. Oh well.

  5. maygan said,

    hahaha…that’s way too adorable! Trent only watches Handy Manny (it’s his favorite thing ever right now) and has actually picked up some spanish, but I don’t think it’s just from the show. He also has toys that speak in spanish to him and I have a few board books we’ve been reading since he was really litt.e

  6. Jo@Mylestones said,

    Heheh. Yep, little Dora can only take the lessons so far. 🙂 Very cute.

  7. YourBiggestFan said,

    lol!! Oh yes, I agree. My girls DO watch Dora on a regular basis and I’ve learned to tone it out. I’m thrilled that my three year old knows what red, green, blue, and yellow are in spanish(most of the time) and that both my 2 and 3 year olds ran around yesterday yelling “OPEN! Ah-bray” (I don’t know how to spell it, so I wrote it like they were saying it.) I know it’s accurate, but only from the show! LOL Yes, I am one of those non-spanish speaking Floridians, but everytime I leave my house there are many of spanish speaking people speaking spanish and I can’t understand a word they’re saying! Not that I’m eavesdropping, but it’d be nice to know or at least have a clue! That being said, my daughter, thinks that red is rojo, only. She doesn’t seem to understand that a red light, is a RED LIGHT, she insists that it’s a “Rojo.” Hmph. Good luck with all that and one, two, three IN SPANISH!! 😀

  8. Amber said,

    That is too cute.

    My daughter is a big Dora fan too.

  9. Apok said,

    I think Dora’s a bitch. I dislike her and her little map. Hopefully it’s cancelled by the time the girls watch tv.

  10. Somerandomchickyou'venevermet said,

    I periodically think of getting those Rosetta Stone disks (from the library b/c those things are crazy expensive) and playing them at nights and on weekends just to see if munchka-moo picks anything up. But something absurd like Russian or Portuguese.

    And I think you should start teaching T Italian. You can start with familiar songs like Jesus loves me. In the meantime she’s too cute for words.

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