• 27th February, 2013

When we were young…

Bilingual babies

We may have mentioned once or twice that there are more and more multilingual people in the world today. Knowing more than one language has become an almost vital skill which can open doors to new job opportunities, among other reasons. And you know what they say, the sooner, the better!

In a previous blog, we told you that babies have the ability to recognise voices from within the womb. If you are planning to raise a multilingual family, kick start your child’s inborn talent for languages ASAP.

And what better way to teach your babies than with their favourite cartoons?

Since our day, a reeeeally long time ago, the science behind cartoons has been developed to turn them into seriously powerful learning and development tools.

Meet Dora the Explorer.

Dora and Boots

Dora is a 7 –year-old Latina girl who, along with her best friend Boots, sets out to explore the world around her. On their travels, they teach Spanish words and phrases whilst identifying and solving general, maths, music, and physical coordination problems in a highly interactive way. The programme encourages young viewers to participate by moving and speaking.

Then there’s Ni Hao, Kai-lan:

Hello Kai-lan!

A friendly, playful pre-schooler A.K.A.

“the next generation of preschool television programming that introduces the psychology of biculturalism.”

Kai-lan sets out to explore what it is really like to come not just from a multilingual family, but also a multicultural background. For her, being a good member of society, having a strong mind-body connection, emphasising, and putting a lot of thought into social and emotional experiences are the foundations for being a positive and supportive member of society.

Finally, one even I recognise: Muzzy.


A furry, green, clock-eating monster from out of space landed onto the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language. Muzzy finds himself in Gondoland where he meets Bob, the royal gardener who has fallen in love with Princess Sylvia. At the castle he meets the king, the queen and the mad scientist Corvax.

The show is based on a multisensory, immersion approach surrounding learners with visual, aural and contextual language which has been carefully modelled on the way we learnt our first language.

“The unique MUZZY design is effective for visual/spatial, verbal, kinaesthetic, musical and logical/mathematic learners.”

As of 2012, this classic is available in no less than 10 languages: English, English ASL, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Esperanto!

Now for the serious bit…

A bilingual child is has the ability to understand, communicate and express themselves freely and equally in two different languages.

Watching cartoons for language learning is only the stimulus to motivate them to recognize phrasal structures, words and sounds. The road towards bilingualism requires great effort and patience even for children lucky enough to grow up in an already bilingual household where both languages are spoken.

That theory that bilingual children take longer to develop their communication skills is, in fact, a myth. They are developing two sets of skills simultaneously. What takes time is the assimilation of two, or more, languages so as not to confuse words and sounds. Once this assimilation is complete, there is no looking back.

Why not like our Facebook page, tweet us your comments, or start your own journey to multilingualism on our website.

Have a great week!

Posted in : Culture, Language Learning, Languages Online, Lingualia
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