Wednesday, February 24, 2010

so THAT'S what YouTube is all about!

I know, I know, everyone else has been watching stuff on YouTube for years, if not uploading everything from home video clips of their baby gurgling to abstruse original short films about gurgling babies exploding in outer space in multiple dimensions. Our Internet connection speed at home was so slow, though, that it would take ten minutes to download a three-minute video, each time we wanted to see it. So I never bothered exploring YouTube.

A couple of weeks ago, however, we increased our DSL bandwith and now I can click on a video and watch it instantly. Magic! This opens up a whole new French-speaking universe for Griffin and moi.

Here's my newest discovery which makes both of us happy: I can find animated comptines (nursery rhymes) in French, some of which are even bearable to watch repeatedly! The ones I like best (so far) are called "clipounets" and draw from the karaoke tradition by highlighting the lyrics word by word as they are sung. Griffin asks for "L'araignee Gypsie" over and over, singing along (and sounding so gosh durn cute).

The accompanying blurb directs us YouTubers to the clipounets website ("le site musical des touts-petits"), which seems extremely well-organized, even suggesting minimum viewing ages for the different songs (according to their level of sophistication? or perhaps the number of violent acts depicted in the nursery rhymes, some of which are unusually cruel and bloody?). The website also appears to offer stories and other materials to listen to.

I say "seems to" and "appears to" because apparently you have to subscribe in order to listen to everything on the site, not just the few teasers they have posted to YouTube. At seven euros a month for the subscription, it had better fold my laundry and do the dishes while it plays songs for my kid!

(Since it apparently doesn't, I haven't subscribed, natch.)

Over at Bilingual for Fun, they offered these words of wisdom about using YouTube when raising children with more than one language, making the point that anything that increases kids' motivation to see and hear other speakers is a good thing. (They also link to their playlists of videos for kids in other languages--thanks!)

Any other suggestions for using YouTube with our young'uns? And surely someone can direct us to more videos in French appropriate for toddlers like Griffin! Gurgle gurgle gurgle.


  1. Here, I'll start: look for videos by Alain Le Lait on YouTube. I have loved his whimsical songs for kids since before I even had a kid!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I'm excited for you to have found the wonders of YouTube. It's been an exciting discovery of mine, too! I love that they are short blurbs, so we don't have to commit to longer chunks like movies that our kids may want to watch. I appreciate knowing about more links, too.

  3. great advice, thanks for the links! I never even thought about looking on youtube. Our daughter is not understandably vocal yet, but I do read french to her and we have flashcards. although anything french is really hard to find in South Africa, but I do my best. She is mainly Afrikaans (our home language), but her caretaker and I speak English to her, and she is learning Zulu and North Sotho (they are almost the same actually) from her caretaker and our domestic worker as well. Added to that the french that my sister and I are teaching her, and the Mandarin my sister still wants to introduce, our little girl is going to speak more languages than Cleopatra.

  4. @Tamara--Yes, I'm not ready to let Griffin watch movies yet. One think I like about YouTube is that it forces us parents to sit with the kids and watch the clips together (until the kids are old enough to manipulate a mouse and surf the Internet themselves, at least). It reduces the temptation to plop Griffin in front of the TV and go cook dinner!

    @Keda--Wow!!! What a lucky polyglot little girl you have. (And I'm a bit relieved to know that I'm not the only mom who wasn't watching YouTube.) I hope you can find good kid-appropriate clips in all the languages you need!

  5. Caillou. In French, of course, English, Spanish, and some others. He's a four-year old bald kid.

    Remember "Look it up, dear?" I use YouTube (or more precisely, Google Video) like an encyclopedia: any time some new word comes up with a visual context that Dani hasn't come across yet, I look it up. It doesn't work out sometimes, but usually it's great.