France / OWTK DVD REVIEWS / Travel

MUZZY – BBC Language Program for Kids

Muzzy is an award winning foreign language course designed for children of all ages, from infant to young adult. The title character (seen here to the left), is a giant, green, fuzzy space traveler named Muzzy. He speaks with a slow delivery and is a super-annunciator, saying everything a pace or two slower than the other characters. At first, his manner of speech may annoy any adults in the room but will quickly grow on you. The way he speaks makes learning these new words easier for you and your kids. Since we had our France vacation plans firmed up months ago, we decided to purchase the French Level I DVD course. We began the program shortly after our daughter’s 2nd birthday. She quickly fell in love with the green guy and was saying (complete with adorable accent): petit (small), grand (big), je suis (I am), merci (thank you), and bonjour (hello). All this after watching the first disc (chapters 1-3) just a handful of times!

There are seven main characters in the Muzzy series: The King, Queen, Princess (Sylvie), Gardener (Jean), “Servant” (Corvax) and of course, Muzzy. The plot of the Level I course surrounds a budding romance between Sylvie and Jean. The rub is that Corvax is in love with Sylvie and attempts to clone her. I should stop here and tell you that while the topics of a love triangle and cloning may sound a bit heavy for your little ones – they are presented here in quite a playful manner.

After several months we have seen her French vocabulary grow exponentially from those first five words. She has added additional words and phrases such as s’il vous plait (please), bonsoir (good evening), bonne nuit (good night), au revior (good-bye), je suis malin (I am clever), courageux (brave), un peche, un prune, du raisin (peach, plum, grapes), and motocyclette (motorcycle) to her repertoire.

Sample some Muzzy!
(This is one of the first scenes in the Level I program.)

Recently, we have taken to bringing Muzzy on the road with us, listening to the CD accompaniment, which is exactly the same tale. My daughter loves it! She giggles and shouts out her favorite parts even without the visual clues. Her new favorite lines are: “Je suis Jean. Je suis le jardinier” and “Emmenez-le!” (Take him away!) which is repeated several times as Jean is carried away to jail for running off with the Sylvie. It is here, behind bars, that Jean meets Muzzy for the first time. “Emmenez-le!” is heard again at the end of the story as Corvax is exposed as the bad guy. Listen to that scene.

Included in the package is a scene-by-scene workbook that includes the entire script in French, English, Spanish, Italian and German. This is used to reinforce the lessons/story on the DVD and CD. There is also a CD-Rom entitled Muzzy at the Seaside. We have yet to expose our daughter to computer games, so this one is still wrapped in factory plastic. We plan on taking this with us on our trip, both to help her learn and also occupy her a bit on the looooong plane ride.

Now for the not-so-cheery news: The Muzzy program is not cheap, costing $199 for the DVD version of each Level (VHS is also available, and is a bit less expensive at $169). Early Advantage, Muzzy’s official retailer, offers a 30-day risk-free trail, so there is no downside in trying the program to see if your child enjoys the story and learning a new language. If you call to order the program, ask about a free Muzzy stuffed animal. I happened to receive a random flyer in the mail about this offer a while back (but did not see mention of this freebie online).

We decided to shop for a better price, and wound up purchasing our French Level I program on eBay, used but in perfect condition with some components still in shrink-wrap. We paid just under $120 with shipping, but of course did not receive the Muzzy doll!

Now, lets put MUZZY to the test!
Upon our return from our vacation in France, OWTK will report back on the real life application of the French language that we have all learned through the Muzzy program.

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