Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Television and Language Learning

My daughter is watching a Slovak children's DVD right now. It's by a popular pair of children's performers who also put out CDs and do concerts and such.

It's got very catchy songs that K hums to herself and sings along with when the DVD is on. Today she is even repeating phrases they say in Slovak and asking me about words she doesn't understand. She is in high learning mode.

I hate it.

Sigh. I'm telling myself I'm getting "good mommy" points just for allowing it to be on.

I don't hate the learning! I love the fact that it's in Slovak and she's trying to absorb as much as possible.

I just hate the show itself. I wouldn't mind the garish costumes and bad acting, but I really dislike the preachy tone. The songs are about things like washing your hands and not hitting, or in my (least) favorite sequence, there is a song about how picking your nose and biting your fingernails is an ugly habit and will make you sick, immediately followed by a song where the two nose-picking, fingernail-biting offenders instantly come down with a fever, realize that they brought it on themselves, and the protagonists dispense highly questionable medical advice.

Specifically I find the suggestion that "every good mommy knows that when you cough you have to run to the doctor right away" (really, those are the lyrics). Some of the other verses (all starting "every good mommy knows") were also pretty, shall we say, culturally bound. I understand that, but when I first heard the song I couldn't help thinking - my child is already enough of a hypochondriac, she thinks one cough means she's sick, she doesn't need encouragement!

For some reason the heavy-handed moralizing and condescending tone bothers me, even though it doesn't bother my child. Which is why I'm not saying anything about it to her.

So I bite my tongue and remind myself of one of our parenting successes so far: our daughter has never seen Barney or Elmo and refers to Sponge Bob as "that hicky (yucky) show". She asks us to change the channel or turn the TV off every time it comes on.

That's good enough for now.


  1. What is this, Spievankovo?

    Benjo started watched things (not by himself, we started it) on YouTube not long time ago. First Baby Einsten, then, ehm, ehm, some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and now Fireman Sam. Those aren't too bad, it seems. But there are things we don't like about it (especially Mickey Mouse which is aimed on about his age group).

  2. I don't know if it's culturally bound or just my bad luck in random CD buying but I have a couple of German CDs of songs for toddlers and they are ridiculously didactic, don't sound fun to me at all and just keep telling them all these rules (similar to your Slovak TV show by the sounds of it) - I wonder if such songs etc exist in English and I'm just more easily able to avoid them, or if it's cultural. (Or if I'm just sensitive right now because I've got a cold, you know, caused by a virus, but my German husband keeps telling me it was because of a draught from the air conditioning!!!)

  3. Matus - yes! I see 'bad acting, garish costumes and moralistic songs' was enough to identify it. :) We looked up some of those singers' other music and it is actually pretty good, so it's too bad this particular children's program is not to my taste. I'm open to trying other things by either of those singers/composers, though. We have managed to avoid Mickey Mouse Club, but Fireman Sam is pretty fun. I guess there is no ideal children's programming. Even the good ones get stuck in your head and you can't get them out :)

    Amanda, haha! I think this sort of thing does exist in English, but there's so much available it's easy to get lost in the crowd. I hope you feel better soon, draft or virus!

  4. I have never actually seen it properly. Only about twice for about 1 minute. And yet, I could guess that's what you're talking about.

    And Viki says that Winnie the Pooh was on today and the boy liked. "Maco, maco..", he would say.

  5. That would drive me nuts. There is a Japanese song about mothers staying home and cleaning all day and that's how you know they love you. The principal of my kids' kindergarten is a single dad so that's not getting sung there, luckily. I would probably freak if they came home singing it. ;)



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