FRENCH FOR KIDS: L’anniversaire de Fritzi (Fritzi’s Birthday)

Ages: 1 - 7

Animated with live-action hosts and components, L’anniversaire de Fritzi (Fritzi’s Birthday) uses the language immersion method, which, according to the American Council on Immersion Education, uses a foreign language to teach content. The content is presented only in the language being taught—with no native language translation provided. Instead, the endearing animated mouse Fritzi, human pal Marie, and a cast of young kids and tweens will be speaking French as they plan each step of a birthday party, from choosing decorations to cleaning up after the celebration ends.

Through conversational language, scaffolded with other elements to support learning (such as graphics and text-on-screen), the method aims to help children acquire both content and language simultaneously. Throw in puppets, musical performances, colorful props, and fanciful animation to vary the pace. Children won’t need to understand every word to grasp what’s going on, however, just as children learn their first language through repeated exposure, children will need repeated viewings before the pieces of the French language puzzle sink in and make sense. That’s especially true with the musical numbers; their lyrics are lively but to the not-yet French speaker, they fly by. The animated segments have more time to repeat key words and concepts, and reinforce them with graphics and images. For instance, little viewers will probably pick up the words for “cat,” “cake,” “party hat,” and “plate” fairly quickly as they see an animated cat decorate, focusing on the images and text-on-screen words as each item is mentioned. There’s an option of using French and English subtitles, a Parent/Teacher Translation Guide and is available to purchase as either a DVD or digital download.

Parents who want to introduce their children to French will find this DVD to be an attention-grabbing and smile-inducing lesson because it’s themed around a birthday party . . and what kid doesn’t love a birthday party, right?

Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.