[General] Can toddlers acquire English merely by watch English cartoons?

toloue_man

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Persian
Home Country
Iran
Current Location
Iran
In my country, it has become quite common for parents to expose their toddlers to English cartoons so that they can learn English. I have seen two cases. What was common between them was that they don't have even a decent English accent. I myself cannot understand most of the sentences they produce because of poor pronunciation. Therefore, I cannot judge if they speak correctly. One of the toddlers produced this sentence that I understood: Her hairs is (shouldn't it be "are") like mine but too messy. I met a third parent and she told me that she has exposed her kid to English cartoons but he has forgotten them over time. I became interested in this and tried to Google it. What I found was contradictory info. I found a link where many users claimed this can be achieved (https://www.quora.com/Can-a-kid-acquire-a-language-to-some-extent-only-through-watching-TV) but this link has the opposite claim (https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/fi...eos-dont-help-young-children-learn-new-words/). Similarly, this third link which seems to be an academic article claims it is not possible (https://www.pnas.org/content/115/40/9859) but asserts that learning through video chats is robust.

I have these questions:
Can toddlers acquire English merely by watch English cartoons (not video chats)?
Will they learn it (like a second language) or acquire it (like a native language)?
What is the probability of forgetting if they learn it and not acquire it?
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Watching a few cartoons will not make them bilingual- they may pick some things up, though. Where's the interaction with a cartoon? Bilingual children have parents and societies to interact with. Plonking a child in front of a cartoon channel in a home where people speak Persian, in a street where people speak Persian, with nurseries where they speak Persian is not likely to produce native speakers of English. It won't do them much, or any, harm and they may pick up some bits and bobs. Mind you, cartoons rarely reflect natural pronunciation.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Everything I know about the acquisition of language in young children I learnt from The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker. It is an excellent and easy-to-read popularization of the science.
 
Last edited:

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
PS by watching.
 

toloue_man

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Persian
Home Country
Iran
Current Location
Iran
Watching a few cartoons will not make them bilingual- they may pick some things up, though. Where's the interaction with a cartoon? Bilingual children have parents and societies to interact with. Plonking a child in front of a cartoon channel in a home where people speak Persian, in a street where people speak Persian, with nurseries where they speak Persian is not likely to produce native speakers of English. It won't do them much, or any, harm and they may pick up some bits and bobs. Mind you, cartoons rarely reflect natural pronunciation.

I am not talking about a few cartoons. I am talking about 30-60 minutes of watching cartoons per day for a few years. Yes, I have studied linguistics and I know that it is quite different. But two instances that I have seen, they speak quite fast. I am not sure if they speak correctly or not, they usually have an absurd pronounciation that I cannot understand. Do you still think the same? Why have many user reported that it has been successful? (see this link https://www.quora.com/Can-a-kid-acquire-a-language-to-some-extent-only-through-watching-TV)
 

toloue_man

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Persian
Home Country
Iran
Current Location
Iran
Everything I know about the acquisition of language in young children I learnt from The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker. It is an excellent and easy-to-read popularization of the science.

But you didn't answer my question.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
But you didn't answer my question.

That's because I am not quite certain about the answers. But if the cartoons are old ones your children might learn some pronunciations that are no longer in use. That probably isn't a big problem. Children are very flexible and will soon outgrow any old-fashioned pronunciations they might pick up.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
If it were that simple, all parents would be doing it. I did look at the thread and many of the cases are not what is being claimed- the children, for instance, who learned Japanese by watching TV, whose only other source was their mother- that's simply not a relevant case as people learn languages from their parents. Watching TV and learning is one thing- but it is a supplemental source of language, not a cure-all. The idea that 60 minutes of cartoons a day will turn children into native speakers is simply far-fetched as there has to be interaction. Your own observations question the validity because of the pronunciation.
 
Top