Learning Spanish on TV

One of the ways I decided early on that we would contribute to Ella’s Spanish language development was through media. While we read books to her in both languages, I wanted to try and convince her that cartoons were only in Spanish.

This plan worked not at all… along with my “No Elmo” stance.

Every parent knows those moments when you just have to do “whatever it takes” to get through the next thirty minutes. And in our case... that solution involved Ella dancing along with Elmo’s World… in English.

Still, now that she’s old enough to start showing some interest in cartoons, we have been trying to incorporate as much as Spanish as possible. She is a big fan of Dave y el Pepinillo Gigante from VeggieTales and Sid, el Niño Científico.

Personally, my I get a big kick out of Sid because there is a super smart girl character named Gabriella. Well, I think she’s smart… I have a hard time following all the storyline, but I’m getting better. (There is not a super smart girl character named Sarah…)

I do look forward to when she’s a bit older and Dora and Diego can enter our house. It has been fascinating to watch toddler friends of mine (yes, I have toddler friends) be so interested in learning Spanish, practicing it on apps, and asking “Mr. Billy” about words in español.

Media has such incredible influence when it comes to learning about other cultures and challenging stereotypes.

When I was younger, The Cosby Show was making a splash by introducing new images of African American families to media and subsequently challenging audience stereotypes. While I definitely grew up enjoying The Cosby Show, I was a much bigger fan of the movie Polly, which boasts both Phylicia Rashad and Keshia Knight Pulliam in its casting as well.

With my family out of town, I have rediscovered YouTube. You may have heard of it? I’ve stayed up late watching JabbaWockeeZ shows or mind-blowing marching band routines. I have also discovered snippets of Polly on YouTube, so I am including one of the musical numbers from the film for your personal enjoyment.

I’m curious what multicultural programming (whether for adults or children) that you enjoy? I’m especially interested in those featuring Latin American characters, but am looking for options to introduce other cultures as well. Would love to hear your feedback in the comments!


  1. I wish that I had been more intentional about teaching other cultures to my son when he was younger, but we are working on it now! He is 7 and declared to me the other day that he knows what God wants him to be when he grows up. He wants him to be a Bible translator because he can roll his "Rs" and knows a few Spanish words. So much to learn, my little man!! But a good start and a great passion!

    We sponsor a child through World Vision from Brazil and that is how we have introduced other cultures and languages at this age. But I agree that the media can be a great source.

    1. I love the focus on introducing kids to world cultures in addition to language. Thanks, Beth!


I love to hear from you! Like, seriously. It makes my day. Please feel free to respond, question, or add your perspective. Of course, please keep your words respectful. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.