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Digital content for children ages 2 to 7 in Mandarin and Spanish

Much is discussed about the impact of screen time on young children. Experts now agree that less is better and media should not be introduced before the age of 2. The site common sense media is a helpful resource for parents. For parents introducing multiple languages, digital entertainment can fuel your child’s interest and motivation in learning and practicing a second or third language. While digital entertainment alone won’t help your child with language acquisition, there are more opportunities today for viewing and learning from international shows. In recent years, there has been an explosion of content available so it is even more critical to assess content quality and digital safety, especially on open platforms like YouTube.

Well, gray tortuga talked with experts about the many digital options and they suggested the following checklist for content quality and digital safety:

First, source content that is actually on-air in native speaking countries. This ensures quality translation, cultural sensitivity, and native speaker tones.  For example, ‘Peppa Pig’ is translated into Chinese but does not currently air in China while ‘Bob the Builder’ does.  If possible, look for content that was created outside the U.S.A. For example, Pororo (created in Korea) and Pocoyo (created in Spain) are creative shows translated into a variety of languages.

Second, consider using platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime, where audio and subtitles can be turned on in that language. These types of platforms eliminate commercials (often in English) and ensure the quality of the content.

Finally, share interest with your child by sitting and engaging with him about a program.  Pause the program intermittently to ask him ‘What is happening in this story?’ or ‘How is the main character feeling?’ Don’t feel bad if you can’t engage in the language in which your child is watching.

In conclusion, paying attention to the origin of the content and translation, the platform in which you access that content, and the engagement of a caregiver will significantly increase the quality of screen time for working on a second or third language.

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Jane Choi

Here are some examples of digital media available on Netflix or Amazon that meet the above criteria. In Mandarin Chinese: Pororo, Charlie and Lola, Thomas the Train, SuperWings, Bob the Builder. In Spanish: Super Monsters, Noddy Toyland Detective, Puffin Rock, Llama Llama, and Treehouse Detectives.

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