Bilingual is Better

It seems like we can’t write enough about the topic of reading with our children. It just goes to show how important we believe reading is as a tool for language exposure and for overall language skills.

Last week we introduced our new monthly series, ReadMe, which focuses on one bilingual/Spanish book and author per month; yesterday’s Ask an Expert dealt with when is the best time to teach your child to read in the minority language. Today, we’re exploring the topic of reading further, but through an alternative and entertaining way thanks to PBS Kids and Super Why.

You’re probably wondering why we’re taking time to write about Super Why since the show is 100% in English. We’ve always showcased Spanish-language videos since we encourage that most of our child’s media-watching be in Spanish as a way to maximize exposure to the language.  Well, there’s always exceptions to the rule and flexibility is key since every situation is different.  Plus, Super Why is an educational show, up there with Sesame Street, designed exclusively to help kids ages 3-6 with the critical skills they need to learn and love to read.

Now, the reality is that our children will learn to read in English probably before they do in Spanish, even though, as author Barbara Zurer Pearson explained in yesterday’s Ask an Expert, Spanish is much easier to learn to read than is English.  That being said, I will happily promote a quality educational show that strives to teach my daughter valuable reading skills, in any language, that will prove to be a benefit in many aspects of her life and will open up the doors to the love of books.

Super Why is a TV series airing on PBS that is best described as an interactive reading adventure. Kids are rapidly enthralled by the team of super heroes, each boasting a unique reading power:  Alpha Pig (with Alphabet Power), Wonder Red (with Word Power), Princess Presto (with Spelling Power), and Super Why (with the Power to Read).  This is definitely the type of Princesa I want Camila to identify with!!

SUPER WHY’s signature educational approach includes:

  • promoting books as a resource for solving problems kids tend to face in preschool and in life
  • interactivity that facilitates practice and learning
  • seamless integration of story and literacy content

In each episode, the Super Readers experience a preschool-related problem, fly into a book to find the answer and apply what was learned to resolve the problem.  You can take it a step forward by using the lesson plans and activities they’ve created to be used with each episode to maximize its educational value.

I’ve also considered that this show can be a great tool for children learning English as a Second Language (ESL) since it incorporates basic language and reading skills such as letter identification, word decoding, phonemic awareness, word encoding and phonics. I was curious to find out if the show’s creators had given any thought to the series as an ESL tool, so I contacted Angela Santomero, Super Why’s visionary creator and Executive Producer. This is what she has to say:

“We have recently created a French-language pilot and conducted some initial pilot testing, which had strong appeal and potential for use as an ESL tool. We hope to develop a Spanish language version as well.”

We also hope they develop a Spanish version!  Wouldn’t we all love this?  I say we should let PBS know we want more educational series like this one which promote language learning, specifically in Spanish. Doesn’t the fact that one out of four children today are Latinos count as an influencing factor?  I’m sure it does if they can hear us. So why don’t you head over to PBS Parents and leave a comment on the Learning with PBS Kids page to let them know how much we love all the useful content they actually do provide for us in Spanish (have you checked out their awesome PBS Kids Island in español or the Aprende con Sesame videos?)  and how we would appreciate getting more content geared specifically towards bilingual children. If you write, they will listen.

If you’ve never had a chance to watch the show, here’s a clip from the Hansel and Gretel episode that was made available to SpanglishBaby friends.

You can watch full episodes on your local PBS station, on the Super Why website or subscribe and download them via the free ITunes video podcast (mp4).

Yet another way to watch this show is by winning one of the TWO DVDs we have to give away!

To Enter the GIVEAWAY:

This giveaway is  now closed. The winners will be announced shortly.  Thanks to all who entered.

Leave us a comment telling us how you would use Super Why with your kids to enhance either their reading or language skills.

If you want to increase your chances of winning you can get additional entries by doing any of the following:

1. Subscribe to our feed via email and leave us an extra comment letting us know you did so. Make sure to leave the comment using the same email you subscribed with.  And please make sure you verify the subscription when you receive the email to do so.  We do check in order to validate the entry.

2.  Subscribe via RSS.  Once you do, or if you’re already a subscriber, email us the “Secret Phrase” at the bottom of the post to:  giveaways@spanglishbaby.com.

3. Blog and/or Tweet about this giveaway. Just make sure to send us the link in an additional comment below.

For the part that nobody likes, but we’ve gotta have, check out the Giveaway Rules.

This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009.

Entries/Comments that do not follow the submission guidelines will be invalid and automatically deleted.  Sorry, just need to keep  it fair. Good luck to all!

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