The Little Pim foreign language video series for small children, put together by Julia Pimsleur Levine, has expanded their offerings. Continuing the series that we reviewed last January, Little Pim now appears in three new DVDs: 4 – In My Home, 5 – Happy, Sad and Silly and 6 – I Can Count. These videos stand on their own and don’t require you to have seen the first set already. The languages currently available in these new topics are Spanish, French and Chinese. I hope that more languages will be available eventually, since the first three DVDs are available in Spanish, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, English (for ESL students), Arabic, German and Russian.
Little Pim videos 4-6 have exactly the same format as the original three. There are seven short episodes, each building a little bit on the one before. Each episode goes through new and review vocabulary words with a lot of images, repetition and kid participation. There is then a short review section at the end of each episode. In addition to the new vocabulary (60 new words and phrases per DVD), this new set of videos also introduces two new characters: Bob the bobcat and Lola the pink elephant. They join Little Pim in his playtime and adventures.
These videos are designed for children age 0 to 5, but older kids and anyone new to the language can also benefit from their use. Since the entire video is in the language you’re studying, you are immersed in the language. I find that the more I watch and listen to the videos, the more my brain thinks in Spanish, rather than translating words as I go.
The videos are full of words that small kids would use every day, making it much easier to practice what they have learned throughout their day. Like with the first set of Little Pim videos, this set has a mix of words that I learned in school and ones that were new to me (such as the Spanish words for raspberry, blueberry and cherry).
While it is meant as an immersive experience, it can be helpful to watch the videos once with the English subtitles on, to confirm what English word is being said. Sometimes what they are referring to isn’t clear. When they did the word for “shelf,” for example, what was being circled on the screen could have just as easily referred to “bookcase” or “toys.”
Once my kids have seen the videos a few times, I like to put them on while my kids are playing nearby. Even if they’re not actively watching the television, it seems that they still learn more about the language, vocabulary and flow of the words. (Disclaimer: That’s just my experience, and isn’t scientifically proven.)
One thing that I’ve observed about learning is that when you are exposed to anything that is brand new to you, it is vital to create some context to learn further, to attach information to something that you already know. Languages are a prime example of this. Once some basic things are learned, it is much easier to learn more in the context of that initial knowledge.
By the time you learn the Spanish on all six DVDs, you will have a decent beginning vocabulary. The videos don’t really teach conversation skills, but you should be able to communicate in a basic way with most Spanish speakers.
Video 4 – In My Home, goes into parts of the house, and what is done in each of them. Video 5 – Happy, Sad and Silly, tackles emotions. Video 6 – I Can Count, covers much more than numbers. Its first episode starts by counting up to four, and then each subsequent episode carries that one number higher, eventually reaching counting to ten by the last episode. But while it teaches the numbers, it also covers more vocabulary, such as animals, food and body parts.
As with our last Little Pim review, GeekDad Jonathan Liu also reviewed the Chinese language videos. Here was his experience:
My kids have been enjoying the new Little Pim DVDs as much as the originals—I think they like the new characters. Just this week, when we picked up my daughter’s 7-year-old friend from the airport, I let them choose a movie to watch on the three-hour-drive home. The friend (who doesn’t speak any Chinese) thought Little Pim sounded like fun, and then they ended up watching all three DVDs in a row. My six-year-old daughter started translating for her while they watched, which I thought was great (except that then they were saying all the words in English instead of Chinese).
Wired: These videos are full of vocabulary that people use on a daily basis, include a lot of repetition and show children interacting with the items that make up vocabulary words being learned. The vocabulary is taught in a clear and fun way.
Tired: If your kids are like my daughter in that they don’t like to watch shows that ask them to repeat or respond to the screen, they may not get the most out of it. The price is a little high for some families to afford. Doesn’t teach conversation skills.
Note: I received a copy of these videos for review.