How to learn english with children with videos
Education Fun English

Are we going to watch cartoons? Learn English with children with videos.

Whether adults want it or not, modern children cannot imagine their life without videos. Various devices have become ingrained in our everyday lives, and they largely determine the way of perception of information of a whole generation. There is a common joke that the first toy that such children took in their hands was a tablet. 

How does this affect learning? 

  • Firstly, the children are visual learners.
  • Secondly, such children are very pragmatic, and the most important question for them is “How to use the acquired knowledge in life?”
  • Thirdly, if these children are interested in something, they will persist in achieving their goal. But it is not easy to interest them.
  • Fourthly, their thinking and perception are not focused on memorising facts and details but on where to find the necessary information and how to apply it in the future.

Thus, visibility plays a crucial role in the learning process. Things evoking vivid emotions and impressions are easier to remember; acquiring knowledge is better during an interaction. Therefore, of course, video plays a significant role in building high-quality and effective learning, especially when teaching a foreign language, for example, English.

The role of videos in learning English with children

The use of videos in the process of learning a language is, first of all, an example of live conversation. However, these are not just audio recordings. In the videos, we see who is speaking. We see facial expressions and gestures, which help us understand the intonation and the situation in general. These videos creates a real-life language environment. Children begin to understand that there are the same girls and boys who have mums and dads, and they have the same life; they speak differently, yet they still understand each other.

Any visual sequence that accompanies an oral speech makes the information closer to a viewer. Regional and cultural facts become not just a set of sounding phrases but give rise to associations, thoughts, a desire to learn more about the subject of speaking. Visuals encourage you to go to the places in question, try food (if the conversation is about the traditions of local cuisine), take part in a holiday or visit a museum. These country peculiarities become personally significant; they motivate people to learn English – to learn more, you need to know the language better.

Videos in English with children: How to choose

The right choice of videos plays an important role. Channels such as YouTube, for example, allow you to have access to a vast amount of videos, most of which, of course, are in English. The quick analysis allows to distinguish the following types:

  • Authentic videos (movies, cartoons, video blogs, amateur video stories by native speakers)
  • Educational authentic video, i.e. video stories created, for example, for teaching English-speaking children (native speakers). These are informative videos on a variety of topics and fields of science. For example, videos about natural phenomena, historical events, geographical discoveries, space exploration, biographies of famous people, etc.
  • Educational videos for English language learners (educational videos that introduce various aspects of the language, cartoons, educational videos that aim to teach English).

Thus, videos in English can be divided into 2 large groups:

  • Special-purpose videos. These are, for example, video lessons or educational video films for the formation or development of auditory-pronouncing or lexical-grammatical skills.
  • Motivating videos. These are motivational videos to help children make sure they have already achieved success in learning English. They understand what the video series is about, they like it, so it encourages them to move on. Such videos are intended for discussion and so should have a communicative purpose. 

When choosing a video in English for teaching children, several factors should be taken into account:

  • First, the age of a child.
  • Second, the purpose of watching the video.
  • Third, the level of language proficiency.

Videos for teaching English to children

As you know, learning English with kids should not be purely educational. Ideally, children should absorb the language from the environment as something inextricably linked to their daily lifestyle. The same applies to learning English. If they cannot do without cartoons in their modern world, let them watch cartoons in English!

Cartoons have a simple storyline, which is clear without words. The events are based on relevant situations; that is why children love them so much. Just let children watch cartoons in English. Cartoon characters use simple phrases; they speak clearly and use the correct intonation. Children love to watch the same thing over and over again, so your child will begin to use the phrases that he or she has heard in the video before you know it. 

And if his or her favourite toy is a cartoon character, and if you roleplay the story after watching, even if a child cannot speak yet, his/her brain is actively developing; a lot of information is acquired reflexively. Do not forget that language proficiency is not only what we always say, i.e. what we are actively using. A lot of things are kept passive, so we listen, read and understand the meaning. It is the same with children. They absorb and accumulate everything that surrounds them.

The most effective cartoons for beginner kids are Paws Patrol, Little Princess, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, etc. – modern animated series that children love so much. These cartoons are short – 5-7 minutes, the characters speak clearly, use short phrases and the images are bright and clear.

In addition to the cartoons, younger preschoolers love videos based on educational songs. Children like to imitate what they see in the video. So visual image and audio are accompanied by body language. Rhythm and rhythm – rhyming contributes to quick memorisation; the picture and movements help understand the meaning. A child experiences everything that is happening in the video. Numbers, colours, animals… No problem! Watch, listen, sing, repeat, remember. Grammatical structures are remembered automatically, and set phrases can be included in everyday communication with the child, depicting the cartoon character and his or her intonation. Try it yourself! The child will appreciate your efforts and join the game. The resources such as Pink Fong, Maple Leaf Learning, Little Baby Bum, etc., will help you.

Videos in English when teaching older preschoolers and younger schoolchildren.

By the age of 6-8, the child’s brain has already reached such a level of development that it is ready for more conscious learning of grammar. Of course, this does not mean cramming the rules. But it already makes sense to add grammatical videos aimed at visualising a particular pattern to vocabulary-based videos. For example, I’m wearing-He is wearing – They are wearing…

Here, the role of the video is that it combines both the structure and the context. A clear image is captured in the head – just like a shot when taking a photo.

Grammar videos can be in the form of mini-dialogues, which are based on the plot. See such resources as English SingSing or LittleFox. Mini-stories in educational cartoons are also built around the clichéd and most frequently used phrases like greetings, talking about the weather, asking what someone is doing, daily routines, I like/don’t like. As a rule, the “control phrase” is repeated many times, but the setting changes all the time, making it recognisable in different contexts.

Learning English by video for school children

For 2nd or 3rd graders, who are beginning to learn English at school, the videos for memorising vocabulary are of great importance. Whole video stories that combine this vocabulary and grammar are also helpful. We can recommend Super Simple Learning, such video as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jBfb33_KHU . Or Super Star, for example,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuoJnFq9JwE&t=1s .  

Specially created educational animated series will help increase interest in English and make the learning process fun. For example, many people love Gogo Loves English. The situations in which he finds himself are close to younger school children, and the main character cannot leave anyone indifferent. We also love another character, Muzzy, and the series about him called Muzzy in Gondoland and Muzzy Comes Back”.

Videos in English for “advanced” learners

When a child has already mastered at least the fundamentals of grammar and has a minimal vocabulary, you can and should add authentic videos that are not focused on learning the language itself but on expanding knowledge about the country of the target language and about the world as a whole through the English language. It is okay if such content videos are designed for younger children, and they talk about what your child already knows. The language must not be adapted for educational purposes. 

 Of course, such videos require a more thorough search and, at first, should be watched together. But you will be happy with the progress – the child will “catch” phrases and new information. We can advise The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Finding Stuff Out or Science Max.

In such English videos for children, the effect of the created interaction is important – as a rule, such videos are always made as a question-answer pattern. When you watch the video again, you can stop and ask a child to answer the question. It is also important that the child likes the topic of the video. What is his hobby? Lego? Animals? Space? Cars? Plane? Choose topics that a child is interested in, and it will be impossible to pull him or her  away from viewing them.

And how about watching with the whole family?

Of course, you have no choice but to love English if you spend at least one evening with your family watching a movie or a full-length animated movie in English. Just make it a tradition. It is helpful for both children and adults. Watch the cartoons that you have already watched before in your native language, for example, in the cinema. The ear learns to listen to English speech; the brain catches the words, highlights the main thing, correlates with the visible, visual image of what the characters say, the speech apparatus participates in internal pronunciation. This process always works when we listen to someone or something. Shrek, Harry Potter, Puss in Boots, Cold Heart, Toy Story, Moana, How to Train Your Dragon, etc. – watch them only in English! And you will learn to understand English by ear.

Afterword

Watching and understanding videos in English is great! But to speak English fluently, of course, it is necessary to form and develop speaking skills as well. And watching videos alone is not enough. You can practice techniques such as “stop-motion” or “voicing”:

  • A “stop-motion” involves pauses when watching a particular video and a question-answer pattern about what has been seen. For example, you can specify the details of what is happening or describe the characters, or make a “prediction” – what is going to happen next?
  • A “voicing” is a technique where you mute the video and ask students to give voices to the characters and act out the dialogues. Providing it is regular practice, such tasks significantly develop speaking skills.

However, the successful completion of such tasks requires specific language knowledge and, consequently, the systematic learning of the language.

English video lessons for children

English educational video lessons for children, which are becoming more and more popular, can help here. They are divided into two types.

The first is pre-recorded video lessons. Each lesson is dedicated to a specific topic, which is presented very clearly and visibly. To teach children, such videos feature a permanent character who introduces the topic. Good lessons of this kind are interactive; the character has a conversation with his students, asking questions with limited time to answer, for example, Little Pim, Tom and Keri, Zippy and me. The advantages of such video lessons are that they may be completely free or be available at a relatively low price. Usually, after payment, you get access to a large amount of content. The “cons” include lack of feedback, answer checking, recommendations, homework and progress control.

Therefore, the second type is preferred for teaching children – video lessons with live communication with the teacher. For example, video lessons in Novakid Online English School for Children, which include songs, educational dialogues with a teacher, a lot of visual aids and game techniques, will allow your child to see his or her progress in language learning. Watching extra videos in English at home with parents after such lessons will only be a joy. Try it; the first lesson is free!

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