I just watched the Whistlefritz Spanish for Kids DVD – Las estaciones. It is so well done! I am going to explain why I liked it, in detail, but I understand that some of you want just the basics and to know if the product is a good investment.
The DVD is intended to introduce kids ages 2-7 to basic Spanish related to the seasons. María is explaining to her friend Fritzi the mouse when his birthday will be. The video moves through the seasons, presenting key vocabulary for each and supporting it with great images. This is an entertaining video that your kids will love, and it will teach them lots of Spanish. The presentation is clear with plenty of repetition, so that kids will not feel overwhelmed. To balance that, there is enough content to keep them interested and learning as they watch the video over and over. The DVD comes with a translation for parents. Is it a good investment? The answer is an enthusiastic ¡Claro que sí! It is an excellent investment for anyone who is teaching children Spanish.
That was the short answer. When I recommend great Spanish language materials however, I feel compelled to explain what makes them effective. This is partly my excitement at how it is done. Also, I think that the more parents and teachers understand about how kids learn language and see the different ways material can be presented well, the more effective we become working with kids learning Spanish. Plus, what is the fun of having your own website if you cannot indulge your obsessions?
The Whistlefritz DVD – Las estaciones might seem like a straightforward introduction to the seasons in Spanish, but it is very carefully created to help children learn language. The idea of immersion depends on combining the Spanish children hear with enough visual support that they truly understand what is being said. This is not always easy to do in person, and yet at Whistlefritz they have found a way to make immersion work on video.
This DVD presents kids with 30 minutes of entertaining, natural Spanish that they will understand. This immersion works because the images are carefully crafted to exactly support the language that the children are hearing, and there is enough repetition to let them associate the two.
The people at Whistlefritz manage this by creating captivating animation that exactly conveys the meaning of the Spanish you hear. They also use lots of fun live action footage of children playing to illustrate actions like tirar bolas de nieve (throw snow balls) and nadar (swim). They combined these video sequences with songs to make the repetition of the images and the language natural and entertaining. The live-action video and animation create an experience where everything children see reinforces the meaning of the Spanish. There is nothing extraneous, and nothing to distract from the meaning. The language is equally focused. Everything children hear relates to what they see. There is no extra, distracting language that would be meaningless without a context for understanding it.
In addition to the carefully crafted images, this DVD effectively combines the visual potential of video with the support that you get from a good teacher in a class. María, the narrator, is Fritzi’s friend. She is happy, enthusiastic and very genuine. Although she is not formally introduced as a teacher that is the role she plays. And Maria is not just any teacher -she is an amazingly effective teacher. Her gestures and expressions perfectly communicate what she is saying. Her voice is lovely and she uses it to best advantage. As you will see, each time María says niños, she will have the children’s attention. She clarifies and repeats, focuses the attention of the children and engages them so that they participate. The content of the DVD is excellent in any case, but María’s interctions and support help children get the most out of the video.
This DVD is intended for children ages 2-7. I assume the upper age range of seven takes into account the concept of seasons and what is considered visually engaging at different ages. In terms of language learning, this DVD would be just as effective for older children or adults learning Spanish. In fact, adults could learn more useful Spanish from Whistefritz than from many products geared to older learners.
Those are just some of the reasons this video works. You would not believe how much I left out! Your kids will just think it is fun, but you will appreciate how much they learn. Is it a good investment? Yes, Whistlefritz Spanish for Kids DVD – Las estaciones is a great investment for children, or anyone, learning Spanish. Enjoy!
Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of the DVD to write this article. All the ideas and opinions are my own.