Animated Film A Key Driver In A Child’s Learning Experience

Animated audio-visual productions are increasingly at the heart of children’s learning experiences – be it at home or at school. The arrival of digital technologies in the classroom allows kids, who would otherwise struggle, to better grasp the curriculum. Learning through film is an entertaining and fun experience that has the power to stimulate the child in a way that a book cannot.

Personally, I thank the role that animated movies have played in helping my daughter to understand some core values in life, and in learning a second language. Born in France, her first language is obviously French. I’m Irish and all my family live in Ireland. I, therefore, knew the importance of exposing my daughter to the English language from the moment she was born. Otherwise, how would she ever be able to communicate with her grandparents and other members of her Irish family?

While I spoke to her in English, everyone else in the household and all her friends only spoke French. I knew that progress would be slow and painful. There even came a point when she was three years old that she refused to listen to me when I spoke in English! Dubbed cartoons and Disney movies became my saviour! I’ll never forget the day when a lady in the toy shop, hearing me speak in a mixture of English and French, asked me how many languages my daughter spoke. When I replied two, my then five-year-old daughter who never missed a thing, piped up “No, I speak three languages, not two! They are French, English and Spanish.” Laughing, I asked her where she had learned Spanish and she informed me that Dora had thought her. She was, of course, referring to “Dora the Explorer” who introduces a variety of multi-lingual words during the course of her adventures. Eight years on, my daughter’s English is almost as good as her French. Her Spanish hasn’t improved much but she’s learned a few words in Irish thanks to the Irish language channel, TG4, which she has become accustomed to watching with her cousins when in Ireland.

The adoption of animated movies can be especially beneficial for children with learning difficulties. I know this first hand from my partner who often teaches children with autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, and other learning difficulties in primary school. Whilst these children often have extreme difficulties in the normal mainstream classroom setting, the introduction of animated film allows them to form associations with the story and the characters. Once these children have formed a relationship with the animation and have become emotionally attached to the characters, they are then open to all the learning processes which may be introduced. In this context, it is vital that the material used is always accurate and specific to concrete learning targets. The use of animation also allows educators to introduce social norms and values into the child’s comprehension as they will often mirror that which they have witnessed from the world of film. As such, it is of the utmost importance that the material introduced to these children is both accurate in language, content and ethnically appropriate. Parents, of course, are the principal educators in any child’s life. Access to accurate animated films gives them a source with which they can confidently add to their children’s growth and education. When used right, education through media has no borders.

Disney does some tremendous work with the Dodd family in the fight against autism through Animated Language Learning, stating on their website that: “The genesis of our speech and language research has been the Dodd family and their wonderful story of hope and success in overcoming autism. Through their dedicated efforts and an innovative approach to using Disney media they built language in their children once described as unteachable and unreachable.” The website lists ten ways that Disney (and other animated movies for that matter) can help kids with autism, notably in helping kids learn: “Not following directions and having trouble understanding concepts are two problems for those with autistic characteristics, according to the ASF. Disney characters — like most cartoon characters — are often instructional and teach kids how to follow order and direction.”

The story of the Dodd family is an incredible one that brings hope to all families who have children with autism. Enda and Valerie Dodd have even created “a state of the art, visually rich language learning program that has lifted their children from the isolation of autism,” and which they now share with other families with language learning challenges. I encourage everyone to find out more about the Dodd family’s Animated Language Learning Program here.

One of our long-standing clients, Globe Edutainment, is the creator of the VIPO animation program for children. What first started out as illustrated story books is now an internationally recognized animation series, broadcast in over 100 countries, and in 39 languages. The fictional travelling character, VIPO the Flying Dog, travels and explores the world, each program bringing this dog with unusually long ears to a new destination. The success of this unique educational and creative project is because it’s not only entertaining, it is also educational and children can learn about different countries, cities, people, and traditions.

Animation, therefore, should be at the heart of educational advancement as it easily compliments the progressive educational value of all children’s learning materials. It may be used simultaneously as a natural learning experience and as an additional educational tool for those with learning difficulties. Foreign content dubbed in their native tongue automatically exposes the child to a world beyond their home and classroom, allowing them to discover other places and customs.

Article by Denise Kennedy
Head of Marketing Communications, Haymillian

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