Friday, 16 July 2010

Dora and the "Cho co late"

"Dora the Explorer" is a TV show for toddlers about a girl called Dora who encounters different characters who speak either English (most of them) or Spanish (some of them). The idea is that children learn Spanish while they watch Dora.

That sounds like a good idea, maybe. If passively watching and listening would help, and I don't know if it does or not, the show could have some value.

But

And it's a huge but:

Our problem with BK1 & BK2 is that because we're in the UK, English is everywhere and we're looking for any occasion to give them more French, German or Arabic instead.

Right, you say, so you can get Dora in French! True.

In the French version, Dora will mainly speak French but use English every now and again. The idea of course is that little French children may learn a bit of English.

Unfortunately, the voices for both languages are done by the same actors, which in the French version means when they speak English, they do so with a thick French accent. I'm sure someone will tell me that if they wouldn't, the French wouldn't understand. And that may even be true, at least for adults. But in our
case, it means my daughters learn completely inappropriate pronounciation from Dora when they know better!

Worst example: the chocolate tree song. The lyrics are very simple: "mix and mix your chocolate". I'm not even going to judge whether an English person would have written those lyrics. The thing that upsets me is that they sing "cho co late", pronouncing "co" as in ".co.uk" and "late" as in "too late".

I am actually pretty sure that even BK2 who is just 2 years old knows that in the real UK, that's not the way you say it. So why on earth did they do that? I mean how difficult would it have been to have two voice actors?

And, thinking about it: Dora is for children in the US and it is supposed to encourage them to learn Spanish, presumably because there are a lot of people in the US who speak Spanish. So, along those lines, the French version of Dora should really have Algerian as the second language, the version of Dora for the UK should introduce Punjabi/Urdu/etc and the version for Germany Turkish. Now that would make sense.

Or, go one step futher and give us downloadable "select two languages" versions!

Maybe I should see this in a positive light. Maybe I should sit down with BK1 & BK2 and say: "see how Dora and Baboush don't even know how to say 'chocolate'? That's because TV is often wrong. If you think you know better, you probably do."


(Oh, and Happy Birthday to my sister who is currently visiting along with her daughter and our mother. They are helping BK1 & BK2 develop their German)