Learn English With El Chavo

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Learn English With El Chavo App Poster Image
Videos, activity packets miss the mark on language learning.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Just by watching the videos and interacting with new vocabulary, kids can pick up a few new words in English. Much of the vocabulary is organized into useful categories and covers the classic basics of learning a new language such as colors, shapes, body parts, and animals.

Ease of Play

Watching videos and doing the activities are easy and straightforward. Sometimes links and video playback don't work correctly.

Violence & Scariness

Characters threaten violence, such as hitting, slapping, and pinching, and sometimes actually do hit, slap, or pinch.

Sexy Stuff

In at least one video episode, there are scantily dressed women and a man who clearly demonstrates his attraction to them.

Language

Mild name-calling using words such as "dumb" and "dummy."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Learn English With El Chavo is geared toward helping Spanish-speaking families learn basic English vocabulary. It features the character from the TV series  which is popular with many Latino families. In a series of chapters, kids watch video clips ranging from a few minutes to roughly 10 minutes long. The videos center on a theme such as colors, animals, or food. Kids can also complete some activities to practice using the new vocabulary introduced in the video. There are various aspects of the video series that parents may want to be aware of, such as, when characters get mad, they threaten slapping, hitting, and so on, and sometimes they actually do slap, hit, or pinch. Characters often use insulting language and make fun of each other in a mean-spirited way. For example there's an overweight kid who's the target of many "fat" gags and jokes. In at least one video, kids also will see scantily clad women and a man who expresses attraction to them. Sometimes technical issues interfere with smooth video-viewing or navigation through the app. This iOS app is for iPad only, but a separate version is made for use on an iPhone. Much of the text for parents is in Spanish, including the developer's privacy policy, which details how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

LEARN ENGLISH WITH EL CHAVO introduces useful English vocabulary according to categories such as shapes, family, or transportation. Each unit has a video story featuring Chavo, a young boy, and other characters from his neighborhood. Text labels highlight new words. Some words also get introduced with text and a narrator reading the words aloud. Units have a handful of activities to review new vocabulary, such as coloring, label matching, and sentence completion.

Is it any good?

The idea of watching engaging videos to introduce language and reviewing and cementing new vocabulary with interactive activities is great, but this free app misses the mark. It's great to see a program specifically targeted toward Spanish-speaking families. Much of the text is in Spanish, which can support non-English-speaking parents in helping their kids -- and themselves -- learn English. Unfortunately, Learn English With El Chavo really misses the mark. The videos may make kids laugh, but the humor is often mean-spirited. Though there's a short section of the video in which kids hear new vocabulary words, there are often so many words introduced at the same time -- and without context -- that it's hard to remember them all. The rest of the time, only a simple text label marks new words, forcing kids to read the label to learn the word without ever hearing it said out loud. Activities are dry and minimally interactive and missing many standard learning supports. For example, once kids make an answer choice, they can't change it. And at the end of the activity, kids see how many responses they got wrong, but they don't know which were wrong, so there's no opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes. While it has a great premise, it needs some improvements before it's worth a spot on your app playlist.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about using Learning English With El Chavo or other learning supports to learn English together. Parents can act as role models for motivating kids to learn, and it can be a great opportunity for family bonding.

  • Read books, signs, labels, and more in English to point out English words all around you. Watch movies in English together as a family and talk about the movie and the words your kids don't know.

App details

  • Devices: iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: vocabulary
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: September 25, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 228.00 MB
  • Publisher: Televisa
  • Version: 4.3
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later; Android 2.3.3 and up

For kids who love learning a new language

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