Wednesday, June 02, 2010

from "too young for any videos" to "too old for these dopey DVDs"!

Here's our newest dilemma in raising a child who speaks English and French thousands of miles away from a francophone country: finding age-appropriate DVDs in French!

I (mostly) scrupulously followed the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (and more importantly, from our pediatrician and our librarian) not to expose Griffin to screen time until he was two years old. So it's only been during the past few months that he started watching the DVDs that we had started collecting for him. I was eager to show him these educational French videos!
And then I started watching them with him.

Overall, I've been disappointed with their approaches to language teaching and their appropriateness for a squirmy toddler. It seems like he's now too old for most of these, or that he already knows too much French and is no longer part of the videos' target audiences! Yet he's too young to watch a lot of the other videos we have (mainly kids' movies)* or could borrow from the library and watch with the French soundtrack (if the DVDs even offer one, that is). Hence my dilemma.

(Thank goodness for YouTube and its offerings in French--comptines, animated shorts, clips of cute little French children doing cute things in French! But that's another post....)

Thus begins my foray into movie reviews on this blog. Stay tuned for the first one, which I will title "Brainy Baby, But Bored Maman"!

*Thanks again to Eve over at Blogging on Bilingualism for passing on some of her kids' outgrown DVDs! I've also bought a few on eBay, at yard sales, and at public library used book sales.


  1. Any suggestions for other videos for young kids learning French that I should check out? Please share your recommendations, good and bad alike!

  2. Is your DVD player dezoned? The ones that Eve sent look pretty good, but the ones designed for teaching kid French make my eyes cross just looking at the covers. I've never seen any French DVDs but seems like Petit Ours Brun or Tchoupi would be much more up Griffin's alley! Also, DD is in a phase where she LOVES LOVES LOVES listening to French songs and looking at the book that goes along with it. There are absolute tons of those about here, but I don't actually have anything similar in English. Do you know of any? Does Griffin have any of those?

  3. And, do you have resources in France who can ship to you? This would probably be great for Griffin:

    or possibly this one:éguise/dp/B0001D115E/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1275602413&sr=1-8

    These are the two characters that DD loved at Griffin's age, though we never saw the DVDs.

    Though technically this is Maisy, the halte garderie introduced Mimi to DD and she has no idea it's not a French thing. It's a current favorite:à-ferme/dp/B000069DNB/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1275602573&sr=1-2

  4. Sorry for the umpteenth message, but I just checked out Itunes France and they do offer episodes of Petit Ours Brun. Don't know if you can set up an account without a French address, but you can preview episodes to get an idea of what they are like! At least, I hope you can in the US!

  5. Merci mille fois, PMF! I'm delighted to hear all your suggestions. No, I only have the North America-zoned DVD player and haven't tried to figure out how to convert it yet. (I also heard that if you switch zones back and forth regularly it'll break.) We're hoping to finish our basement this year, at which point I may buy a cheapo Europe-zoned DVD player. (The French DVDs that Eve loaned me don't play on my machine, and I'm thus very limited in what I can buy from France.)

    Griffin loves to listen to songs while he looks at the songbooks, and he has quite a few picture books in French with accompanying cassettes, although we haven't listened to them recently (and when we first did, he was too young to "get" them). They were hand-me-downs from a former colleague. I don't have any in English here at home because our public library has such a good collection of picture books with CDs!

    I have never seen Petit Ours Brun, but we did discover Tchoupi on YouTube; Griffin does love him! We've also seen some of the Mimi clips, but those impressed me less.

    No, I don't have anyone in France I know well enough to ask to go through the hassle and expense of online ordering and then shipping across the ocean! Or rather, I do--my old roommate from when I was an exchange student--but she's a single mom with three kids and no computer, which makes me reluctant to ask her for big favors. Fortunately, YouTube really is great (and free). I'll also check out the iTunes France offerings.

    Thanks again for your great ideas!

  6. lol - I can understand your frustration, but I can also tell you that what children find amusing when it comes to TV is baffling. I once baby-sat for my ex-boss' little girl. She was about 3 or 4 at the time. And we HAD to put in 'Miffy die Hasie' (roughly translated Moldy the rabbit :)). Anyway, it's about a 20 minute cartoon about a little rabbit that goes to the seaside... and she goes up the hill and down the hill and up the hill and down the hill and up... you get the idea. Tireless repetition, I fell asleep (very bad babysitter!). And to top things of, this movie had to be replayed about 5 times. Talk about bordering on crazy. I almost did not make it. So I suppose that kids find these things amusing, regardless of how much parents want them to be less fascinated by stupid.

    Personally, I completely agree with the making more sentences, or giving the kids a view of the culture, but these DVD's might have been made for kids that do not have a french mommy, have not yet been introduced to the language or something such like. Seen form that point of view, its possible that the DVD would work for anything from 1-5 simply because its an introduction for kids.

    Your ideas are great though. Do email them through and if you ever find the video you are looking for, let us know.

  7. You rock, Sarah! I love it how you just tell it as you see it. You are one quality lady who wants quality products for your quality kids. I'm right there with you on that!!! Great posts with great ideas, as always!


  8. @Keda--Good point. We grown-ups have more sophisticated tastes in film than our toddlers. In fact, last night, while I spent an hour unpacking from a weekend trip, I put a "Bonjour Les Amis!" video in for Griffin, which I actually like better than the Brainy Baby one. After 15 minutes, Griffin came to me with the DVD box for Brainy Baby and announced, "Me watch this video" (with the last word given a French pronunciation). So he made his preferences clear!

    Thanks, Corey--you too!