Bilingual toys

According to an article in The Boston Globe, there has been a significant increase in the sale of bilingual toys in the USA. These are toys the speak words and phrases and sing songs, and which are designed to help young children to learn languages. The most popular language combination is English and Spanish, which doesn’t come as much surprise given that there are nearly 48 million people of Hispanic origin in the United States. There are also toys that speak Chinese, Russian, Korean, Greek, Hebrew and various other languages.

A related article gives more details and mentions that toy manufacturers are bringing out bilingual phones, globes, dolls, books and laptops. A market niche toy companies didn’t expect was the parents of children adopted from other countries, who are keen on toys that speak the languages of their children as this helps ‘bridge the gap between the two countries’.

If kids get an early start with learning languages, and see it as something enjoyable, this bodes well for their future.

Do any of you know if there are any bilingual or multilingual computer games?

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This entry was posted in English, Language learning, Spanish, Technology.

6 Responses to Bilingual toys

  1. AR says:

    Bilingual toys are great, because they stimulate learning of more than one language. What is really annoying though, is that the boxes and instructions are haphazardly covered with both English and Spanish in the same size font. If it were English and Chinese, it would be easier because one’s eyes would be drawn to the Latin alphabet. When the languages are all written with the same alphabet, it takes too long to sort out what phrases are in a language that can be understood by the consumer.

  2. Chibi says:

    Haha, I had always wondered why Dora the Explorer randomly speaks Spanish…and now I finally know why (I know, it took my long enough, right? :P).

    I agree with AR…even if these toys only teach a few phrases, it is still enough to expose very young children to the joys of other languages, and hopefully this will fascinate them and make them want to actually learn another language! There are way too few people around here that see foreign languages as merely a requirement for graduation :(

  3. Allen says:

    My sister gave a toy drum that plays the Spanish and the English alphabet to my nephew for Christmas. Needless to say, I was having a lot of fun with it.

  4. Galdrad says:

    Free Software/Open Source games are usually translated to many languages. Battle for Wesnoth, for example, recently released a new version which is translated to more than 20 languages (actually there are 37 registered translations, but some of them are really incomplete).

  5. Beth Butler says:

    We actually write, record and distribute sing-along bilingual music CDs for children in addition to DVDs, coloring/activity books, puppets and musical instruments that create an integrated product line for parents to use on a daily basis with their children.

    Introduction via a fun and easy-to-use format is key with our target market (birth – five), and parents love that they need not know the new language…in fact, many parents love that they learn right along with their baby!

    As a classroom teacher for more than ten years and mom of three bilingual children, I love providing parents with an easy and affordable solution to jump start their child’s later language learning.

    Happy Educating! ¡Sea feliz educando!

    Beth Butler
    Founder of the Boca Beth Program

  6. sunchaser says:

    As an American, I’m really glad to see that the sales for these types of toys are going up in the US.

    I learned French at a very young age, and it made it so much easier for me to know it later in life (I also know German, but not quite as well).