Cartoons and Foreign Language Learning

tamirci manny
I recently came across an article entitled “Handy Manny: The Pragmatic Functions of Code-Switching in the Interaction of Cartoon Characters”. I was immediately intrigued by this article since I previously thought about the learning potential of this cartoon but I couldn’t find the opportunity to examine it. Also, Handy Manny (Tamirci Manny in Turkish) is one of my favourite cartoons (Okay… I admit that I still watch cartoons at the age of 24).

The researchers counted the number of target words and examined the vocabulary introduced in one episode. According to the results, the episode included a great number of L2 target words, especially formulaic expressions which were greetings, questions, directives, apologies, expressions for agreeing and disagreeing, evaluating or appraisal expressions of appreciation and judgement. Children are exposed to formulaic sequences during the episode, which helps improve the children’s pragmatic competence in the target language. Most of the formulaic expressions are presented in the form of code-switching or translation from L1. Although the input may be regarded as insufficient, it is a good beginning for children who are between 3-5 years old to start learning a foreign language. Further studies that investigate the effect of the input provided in Handy Manny on childrens’ language acquisition would shed more light on whether the cartoon really contributes to language acquisition and children comprehend code-switching used in the cartoon (Gregori-Signes & Alcantud-Díaz, 2012).

Another positive aspect of Handy Manny is that it instills friendliness, kindness and cooperation in children. Therefore, I strongly recommend that parents watch Handy Manny with their children. Happy watching!

Reference:Gregori-Signes,C., & Alcantud-Díaz, M. (2012). Handy Manny: The Pragmatic Function of Code-Switching in the Interaction of Cartoon Characters. In García-Pastor, M.D (ed.) 2012. Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Proposals for the Language Classroom. Valencia: Perifèric, pp. 61-81. ISBN: 978-84-92435-47-0.