Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Watching Television to Learn a Language

Many people will say that the best way to learn a language is to immerse them in it and interact on a daily basis with native speakers of that language. I can’t argue that that is probably the best way to do it, but how do you learn a language when that ideal situation isn’t an option?

I live in Japan. You may have already figured that out if you have read any of my previous posts. I live in Japan and I am trying to raise my son to be fluent in both Japanese and English. The Japanese part is easy. He lives in Japan and everywhere he goes he hears Japanese. Every time he sees television it is Japanese.

Now, what do we do about his English? I leave for work about 30 minutes after he wakes up each morning and normally I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off getting ready to go to work. I have very little time to sit and interact with him linguistically. After work, I get home between 6-7:00pm. He normally goes to bed shortly after 8:00pm. This doesn’t really leave me with a lot of time to talk to him. I do as much as I can and try to read a story or two to him before bed time, but realistically, he only gets about 2 hours of English each weekday.

To supplement things, I do what many parents in my situation do. I have him watch television. It isn’t the best way, but it is one of the few options I have and it works. I know it works because he has been learning vocabulary and phrases that I didn’t teach him.

My wife teaches him some English throughout the day, but he picks up idiomatic English from various DVDs he has and is able to apply that English correctly when playing or interacting with me.
We of course want our son to lead an active life and be outside as much as possible so we do limit the amount of time he spends indoors watching television. On a daily basis, he probably watches about 1 to 1.5 hours of English programming.

Again, it is the best we can do in the current situation.

Some of the shows that my son seems to really react to and enjoy the most are:
Thomas and Friends (my son is OBSESSED with all things Thomas)
Dora the Explorer
Go Diego Go
Theodore Tugboat
Blues Clues

His favorite movies are:
Wiggles Music DVDs (songs)
Toy Story
Wiggles Magical Adventure

You can follow me on Twitter @jlandkev

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It works! I am learning Italian and to help I get a daily dose of a local soap opera. It might not be the greatest show on earth but I really find it helps with my idiomatic language.