Got Stuck With the Kids This Weekend? Teach Them Some Languages!
TV Shows & Movies

Got Stuck With the Kids This Weekend? Teach Them Some Languages!

Ximena Lama-Rondon

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a school-aged kid in possession of free time during the summer must be in want of entertainment.

As a result, the kid’s parents will be forced to cancel a few plans of their own in order to keep their tyranotoddlers engaged in something that is not destructive.

Children’s smile
Photo by MI PHAM / Unsplash

Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that any little ones around your home will be starting their summer vacation next week (or may even be home already, anxiously awaiting their final grades). The first few days of summer holidays already require some adjustment: summer is not really here yet, summer camps have not started, but you already have an anxious child at home.

Usually, these first few days also require a slower pace, as most children are resting after what surely was an awkward, uncertain, and demanding school term. So should you let them just veg out in front of the TV?

Why not? Especially if it still means they can learn something!

Have Your Kids Learn a Language This Summer – Just by Watching TV!

Watching subtitled TV is a great way to improve your linguistic talents. It creates a small immersion bubble, in which you are laughing and having fun while surrounded by a foreign language. Plus, it also allows your brain to infer the grammar rules and verb conjugations that are often so hard to grasp in a classroom.

This is exactly how babies learn their native language in the first place – and it is exactly why it can be so easy for children!

Immersion-based methods are particularly effective among children under the age of ten. In general, the younger you start learning a new language, the better your chances of sounding native-like will be. So don’t let your kids waste that opportunity this year.

A group of kids playing with water guns outside, they run and cheer
Photo by Vitolda Klein / Unsplash

Here are six shows (three in Spanish and three in French) that should multiply their fluency before it’s time to go back to school.

Learning Spanish With Spanish Cartoons

#1 – Kitty is not a Cat

Kitty is not a Cat is the heartwarming story of a small girl who gets adopted by a house full of cats who say they hate humans. But she just wants to be one of them! Caught between the two worlds, she is constantly at odds with her human nature.

This Mexican cartoon has taken Lingopie by storm. We are not sure why, but its combination of heartwarming moments, cat-inspired puns, and random bouts of singing are resonating with people of all ages.

This show is great for your kids if:

  • You have pets at home
  • You want them to learn to love animals
  • They can still develop a hidden love for early-millennium garage rock

Explore this star show here.

#2 – Maria Perez vs. los Superheroes

Read the title carefully: this is not a traditional superhero story. This is the story of Maria Perez, an immigrant from Costa Rica living in the United States. By day, she works as a supermarket cashier alongside her best friends, Nicholas and Zoila.

However, Maria Perez has a secret. She has accidentally discovered that the superheroes her city worships are not really the good guys – and she is determined to uncover them.

This show is great for your kids if:

  • You loved The Boys and want a PG-rated show with the same theme
  • Your kids are a little bit too into Marvel

Check out Maria’s odd adventures here.

#3 – Yoko

Yoko is a friendly imaginary monster who gets accidentally summoned  by three energetic kids. Mai, Oto, and Viks are at that stage where the regular world is just as foreign as the fantasy one. Every time they are left alone, Yoko shows up to add a little of otherworldly excitement to their playground.

The antics that Yoko creates are reminiscent to the old Rugrats that many of us grew up with during the 90s. There are two main differences, however: first, Yoko adds a definite Spanish flavor to the adventures. Second, Mai, Oto, and Viks are not rugrats anymore, as they are big enough to create real trouble.

This show is great for your kids if:

  • They are between 5 and 8
  • They have an imaginary friend of their own
  • You want them to learn some good old Castilian Spanish

Learning French with French Kids’ TV Shows

#1 – Salut Oswaldo

Oswaldo is a 12-year-old penguin who can speak, laugh, and create a mess wherever he goes. He also goes to a human school, as he was adopted by a human family.

Does he fit in completely? Not at first! Is he trying? Mostly – but he is also staying true to his troublesome self, and enriching the lives of those around him.

This award-winning cartoon was originally created in Brazil. However, the French adaptation is just as heartwarming and educational. It will provide your kids with a good laugh, but it may also bring the occasional emotional tear for you.

This show is great for your kids if:

  • They have recently moved to a new school
  • They like bright colors
  • You want them to learn some universal lessons on friendship

#2 – Junior

Why do so many kids' shows have other kids as the main characters? At first glance, it is because it will give their target audience an aspect to relate to. However, just because these characters are like me doesn't mean that they are exactly the same!

Junior is a French-Togan co-production about a 10-year-old in the imaginary town of Mikako. At first glance, his adventures are just the same as any other suburban schoolboy. However, Junior also deals with some of the realities of Sub-saharan African countries.

Have your kids learn French with a French cartoon!

This is a side of the French-speaking world that we rarely see!

This show is great for your kids if:

  • You think they would've liked Hey, Arnold!
  • They like the idea of getting up to trouble on their own

Watch Junior here.

Final Thoughts

Learning Spanish or French over the summer may not sound like an exciting prospect for kids. However, it should take away the guilt from letting your crazy blessings veg out in front of the TV for a couple of evenings a week.

With these shows, summer school won’t feel like an obligation at all. Give them a try for 7 days here.