A commercial came on T.V. the other day. It was for Muzzy, the award winning language program that claims to teach young children how to speak a foreign language. In the commercial, the two children mesmerized by the Muzzy program are speaking Spanish. One is a little blonde haired girl, the other a curly haired red headed boy. Freckles abound but their accents are perfecto!
Snags saw the commercial and turned to me. “Can you get me that?” he asked. “We already have it,” I told him, as I got up to dig it out of the clutter that covers the countertop of the bar in our basement. I had bought the Muzzy program two years ago, when Snags was three or four years old and attending daycare. Part of the daycare curriculum taught the children Spanish, assorted words here or there related to whatever theme of the week was being addressed, words that they could never hope to string together into an actual sentence. And even if they could, well, the teachers teaching it were more or less teenage babysitters, fresh out of high school, some even still in it, and attending child care courses at the local community college so they could babysit hordes of children over the summer and get paid miserably for it. In that setting, the proper pronunciation of Spanish was a pipe dream.
Now, aside from saying no hablo Espanole and being able to count from uno to diez, I don’t speak any Spanish myself. But my husband speaks some, enough to know the daycare teachers were totally butchering the pronunciation of all they tried to teach. It drove him insane when he’d try to correct Snags’ pronunciation of carro de bomberos (Spanish word for fire truck) only to have Snags argue back, “No, Dad! You’re WRONG! You say it like this… that’s how Miss Karen taught us!”
So when the Muzzy fliers started arriving in the mail and the commercials started showing up on TV, I was intrigued. I thought, if I bought the program, that not only could Snags learn to speak Spanish, but if I watched the DVDs with him, then I could too!
It turned out, for me anyway, that learning Spanish was not quite as simple as popping in a DVD and watching a cartoon involving a fuzzy green monster. And Snags, well he was in his Bob the Builder phase, so Muzzy, he more or less got stuck back in the box he came in and shoved under a pile of junk on that basement counter.
But now Snags is in Kindergarten, and his interest in learning is ever expanding. He ponders places like Ancient Egypt and dead languages, like Latin.
Latin. The language my husband studied for three whole years when he was in high school. I laugh at him now, picturing him conjugating Latin verbs on words he would never use outside of a textbook and classroom. He argues with me, claims his study of Latin was useful. “It helped me get a higher score on my SATs!” he says. Maybe so, but he’s 40 now, the SATs are long behind him, and Latin, it’s STILL a dead language.
But Snags, he’s intrigued. As he climbed the stairs with the first of the Muzzy DVDs clutched in his hand, he turned and asked me: “Will this teach me that dead language? That one that dad knows?”
“That dead language?” I laughed. “You mean Latin? No sweetheart, it won’t. It’s supposed to teach you Spanish though.”