An Alien Ate My Clock

Geek Culture

One of the coolest things all dads, including geekdads, get to do is watch their child learn to talk. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch a three-year-old master language a syllable at a time. Adding a foreign language to the mix just brings a whole new dimension to the process.

In our house, the new language of choice is Mandarin Chinese, since our daughter was adopted from China. We started her at age two with what remains her very favorite teaching aid — the BBC’s Muzzy stories.

Muzzy tells the story of a giant, fuzzy, clock-eating alien who comes to Earth to explore. Yes, he eats clocks. No, they never explain why.

Along the way, he becomes involved in the activities of gardener Bob, who is in love with Princess Sylvia.

It’s an engaging story, even for grownups, and we often find ourselves reciting the dialogue in both English and Mandarin right along with Emma. In the year since we started working on Chinese with her, she has used other tools, including direct tutoring, but she always comes back to Muzzy.

The fuzzy galactic traveler also teaches Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English as a second language. The animation style of the cartoons will be familiar to any geekparent who grew up watching Sesame Street or The Electric Company.

The set isn’t cheap at around $300, but it also includes audio discs for in-car use, vocabulary discs and the Muzzy story in both two languages (in our case, English and Mandarin). The set we got even came with a small stuffed Muzzy, which was Emma’s favorite snuggler at night for some months (though he has since been displaced by a small goat, which just goes to show there’s no accounting for taste).

It’s a truism that we live in a global society. Among the geekdad set, it’s probably more true than elsewhere. Given that, one of the best things we can do for our geekkids is to help them communicate more effectively. A second language is a great way to do that, and Muzzy is our tool of choice in that arena.

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