*FTC Disclosure: I was given free product in exchange for my honest and unbiased review in this post.
I was given the opportunity to check out Whitstlefritz Language program with my kids. As you know, I have 2 young boy ages 7 and 11, and they both have been introduced to Spanish in school. In my school district in New Jersey, children start with Spanish in Kindergarten. It is believed that the younger a child is introduced to a foreign language, the less foreign it will be to them and will come natural for them to understand and speak it.
Unfortunately, although that seems like it should be correct and they can identify some words in other languages, unless it is something they live and speak daily, it is really hard to retain the information. Myself, I went through 3 years of French in and 4 years of Spanish in my schooling, and although I can identify and understand some words, there is no way I could hold a full conversation or write it down.
Whistlefritz claims to making learning another language fun and feel natural for kids. Their claim:
Whistlefritz’s programs allow kids to join a group of lovable character including Fritz, the animated mouse Whistlefritz and friends on a journey to learn another language! The combination of live-action, animation, and lively music makes the programs as entertaining as they are educational! Children learn their second language through Whistlefritz the same way they learned their first language: through words used in context by live speakers in fun skits, games, catchy music, and dance!
With that being said, I wanted to see for myself. We received a DVD “Spanish for Kids Adentro y Afuera (Inside and Out) Ages 2-7” and a CD “Carnaval Spanish Learning Songs”. My boys were less than enthused to be watching what they called such a babyish cartoon, but agreed to check it out.
The first thing I noticed immediately is that the DVD is completely in Spanish. Aside from the initial main menu, every word is in Spanish.
There is a woman who is the main teacher, and you follow around a little mouse named Fritz. I guess that’s a play off of the brand name, but the mouse is really cute.
I was confused how this was teaching Spanish to someone who has no idea what they’re saying as they’re only speaking Spanish, but honestly, I found myself staring and listening as well.
My 11 year old is in 6th Grade and has now been in Spanish for 7 years. Although he’s had extensive Spanish teaching, he still cannot speak or understand it clearly. He wanted to see what it was all about and although he initially joked how “childish” the DVD was with the silly cartoon, he found himself trying to say what everything meant as it was pretty easy to follow along.
The mouse plays a big part in the DVD series as you follow him along. There is a scene that my kids particularly liked in the house where each room the little “Fritz” is in, it tells you the Spanish name so the kids can easily understand. Ahh, now I get it. They can identify the Bathroom the mouse is in, and as no reference is make to a “bathroom”, but only El Baño. I already know what El Baño means, but for living room, I already forget the word that was said. Possibly the kids can retain it more than I can, or through the repetition of the video, they’ll start to associate the word with the place.
They sat for a good 10 minutes before becoming bored with it, but I was surprised to even get that 10 out of them watching it. I think this DVD would be much been suited for a 2 or 3 year old, maybe even 4 as they love to watch more colorful basic shows like this and would easily soak in the information. I am excited to hand this DVD to people I know with younger children and would probably purchase more to give as a gift. It is amazing what young children can soak into their minds without even knowing it.
There are other levels of the language learning fun from Whistefritz that I assume are better for older children and similar to adult learning programs out there.
The CD on the other hand is fun for all ages. Although a bit childish in the songs as well, it is fun to play in the car even if on low. The repetition and catchiness is enough to make you know the words without even knowing what they are.
Overall do I think this program is worth the money? I think for the right age range is certainly is. I would make sure to check the recommended age range before purchasing but I do believe this specific DVD and CD combination is best for the earlier recommended ages of 2-4 (7 is pushing it a bit in this day in technology advances and what they’re already introduced to on youtube.)
Whistlefritz’s collections include DVDs, flashcards and worksheets that are available in Spanish and French.