Raising A Bilingual Kid: How Telenovelas Might Improve Your Child’s Spanish Fluency

Kids and Cachetadas on La Rosa de Guadalupe

Usually it’s me fighting Edgar to switch the television set to one of the Spanish-language channels.  He’d much rather be watching Smallville, cartoons, or anything else that is in English.  At first his excuse was that he didn’t understand what they were saying.  Then he quickly changed his reasoning when we both gave him that look that basically means boy you better watch what you’re saying – do you remember the whole ballet folklorico incidentHe eventually learned just not to say anything and walk away to the television in his room.  That one he could control and watch Qubo as much as he wanted… or until we let him anyway.

Last week, though, there I was flipping between X-Factor and Law and Order: SVU and he would not leave me alone about what time it was.  Every couple of minutes he’d run in the living room and ask me: What time is it? Can you put in on 45.1 real quick (the local Univision station here)… I just want to see what’s on real quick.  Finally I gave in and asked: Why Edgar? What are you trying to watch?  His response made me chuckle and so we settled in for the evening and tuned in to 45.1.  As soon as La Rosa de Guadalupe came on Edgar was jumping all over the living room – It’s on! It’s on! It’s on!  Let me call Ale (his cousin) to tell her that La Rosa de Guadalupe just started. 

He didn’t call and we watched the entire thing together.  Let me stop here and mention how grown up some of the content on this show is.  I started to change the channel and tell him he shouldn’t be watching this type of show, but then decided against it when I remembered how raunchy some of the shows I would watch at his age.  Think any adult telenovelas in the 80’s and early 90’s.  This particular episode we were watching was about a little girl who was overweight and who was getting severely bullied and beat up at school by three of her classmates.  Their nickname for her was actually ¡marrana!  The acting was pretty bad and some of the dialogue very hilarious.

I had to stop myself from laughing out loud a few times when I realized how into the programming Edgar was.  This might have been the most attentive I’ve ever seen him in front of the television set while it was on one of the Spanish-language networks.  Sadly, by the end of the show I was hooked on La Rosa de Guadalupe myself.  I’m a sucker for telenovelas… que les puedo decir. 

Afterwards it was time for Edgar to go to bed and as I walked by his room to make sure he was asleep a couple of minutes later, it hit me.  Usually I’m the one getting him hooked on new Spanish-language programming (El Chavo del Ocho, La India Maria movies, etc.).  This was the first time it was the other way around.  I’ve been smiling about that ever since.

6 thoughts on “Raising A Bilingual Kid: How Telenovelas Might Improve Your Child’s Spanish Fluency

  1. This has to one of my fav orite shows. I agree the content is sometime a little grown up, but I also let mija watch and there is always a great moral at the end of the program. good for edgar!!

    1. Thanks, Vianney! Nice to know I’m not the only one watching La Rosa de Guadalupe with my kid 🙂 You just made me feel less guilty for letting him watch such mature content… the message at the end really helps.

  2. my mom is always rushing home from my house when she visits to make it for her novela at 9. and when my 2-year-old stays with my mom, i ask her what they did and she replies: watch novela.

    they learn young 🙂

  3. Personally, I try to show my daughter children’s music videos in Spanish, many of them from Argentina. Look up Maria Elena Walsh on Youtube: there’s some good stuff there. Of course, this works only with very small children, but I hope she gets something out of it. For now, she is obsessed with Winnie the Pooh. Can’t be helped, I suppose.

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