How Disney Reinforced Our Toddlers’ ESL

Unlike my two nephews (who started with only “basics on the wall”), the youngest in the family, my two year old nieces  Christelle Hakeena and Errah Jerelle (born only three months apart), started with both “basics on our wall” which we used with our nephews, as well as the educational programs on Disney since I only have decided for a cable subscription (in the family’s house) as an advanced Christmas gift for my oldest nephew Errvard Jerremiah more or less three years ago when he was about two or three years old. So when the girls were born, they already have both “basics on the wall” and the equally educational and entertaining programs on Disney.

Although both girls like watching ANGELINA BALLERINA, JAKE AND THE NEVERLAND PIRATES, SPECIAL AGENT OSO, CHIRO, HANDY MANNY, and JOJO, they both have their own favourite. The oldest Christelle Hakeena always looks forward to and lightens up when her favourite MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE is on. It’s an animated interactive children’s television series that stars Mickey mouse, Minnie mouse, Donald duck, Daisy duck, Goofy, and Pluto. It focuses on interacting with the viewer (which is kind of perfect for unlike our nephews, we’ve given our nieces not much attention as we have given the boys when they were younger) to stimulate problem solving. Each episode in the series has characters helping children solve a specific and age-appropriate problem using basic skills. True enough, I’ve seen its influence in my oldest niece, Christelle Hakeena’s actions. One day, I noticed her wanting to get something from the top of the fridge. Standing only more or less two and a half feet, she asked one tita (aunt) to get it for her with of course the function word “please” to express politeness just as she hears in the shows that she watches as well as the titas’ constant reminder of its use. Then asked another tita when one refused to do so with an explanation as to why she’s not getting it for her, until all have been asked but turned her down, she did what I can only label/call “her problem-solving skill in use” when she pulled out a plastic chair, dragged it to where the fridge is, climbed and stood on it to reach what she wanted to get. We were horrified seeing her in that position (standing on chair reaching up for something) and supposed to get angry at her instead we were thrilled by what she did when her first measure (asking titas to get it for her) failed. And when a tita helped her down she said “thank you, tita” but it didn’t save her from being reprimanded.

In other instances, I hear my oldest niece say “you’re welcome” to my youngest niece who says to her “thank you” for a toy or food that’s handed to her by her cousin. Or the latest I heard uttered by her is “oh my God” when something fell from her grasp.

The youngest, Errah Jerrelle on the other hand, knows the time slot of her favourite POCOYO and when the TV’s channel is different she calls for her mom and tells her she wants her Pocoyo who is the main character of the series and is about him who is a young boy that’s full of curiosity and is fond of playing games and discovering new things. The narrator usually speaks unequivocally to the viewers and to the characters as well which is really perfect and suits us just right especially when everybody’s busy doing something and can’t carry Errah around or attend to her. She gets to interact in each episode of the series which has Pato in it, a yellow duck who wears nothing but a small green hat. He has a fondness for gardening, and is often seeing watering plants and flowerbeds. Pato means duck in Spanish and also in our language, Filipino. It also has Elly, a pink elephant who always wears a blue back-pack, an equally entertaining character in the series. Perhaps this is where my youngest niece learned her distinctive “booty shake,” her asking titas, tito, mom, dad, cousins, and nanayla (grandma) for a “high five” by saying the words while raising an open palm and waiting for another, and of course, who wouldn’t forget the first time I heard her refusing to eat with lots of “no, no, no, no, no…” while shaking her head.

Disney, aside from it GIVES my siblings and my sisters-in-law TIME to do chores in the house while my nieces are ENTERTAINED by it, it also REINFORCES the girls’ ESL with the “basics on the wall” that they have inherited from the older boys.

Photos: Two year old nieces, Christelle Hakeena (three months older) in red head band in one photo and in “winnie the pooh shirt and jumpers” in the other; while Errah Jerelle’s in pink head band in the first photo and in white shorts and pink shirt in the other.

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5 thoughts on “How Disney Reinforced Our Toddlers’ ESL

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