Bilingual toys bring Hispanic flavor to holidays

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Dec 23 15:02:37 UTC 2006

Life News

Bilingual toys bring Hispanic flavor to holidays

By Adriana Garcia
Dec 22, 2006, 20:11 GMT

WASHINGTON - As the Hispanic population grows in the United States,
consumers are seeing more toys that promote dual language skills, making
them top picks this holiday season, retailers say. The force behind this
trend is 'Dora the Explorer,' an animated television show starring an
adventurous multilingual Hispanic girl, according to toy experts. 'Dora
kicked it off. She's like a celebrity for kids,' said Kelly Cullen, a
spokeswoman for U.S. retail giant Toys 'R' Us, adding that the craze
started two or three years ago. Dora the Explorer: Magic Hair Fairytale
Princess Dora Doll, allows kids to imagine Dora off on adventures in
magical lands while she offers them encouragement in English and Spanish.
Also popular is the Dora Knows Your Name Phone that recognizes the numbers
in both languages in a pink cell phone.

'All the children in preschool know Dora. And by using her toys all kids
are somehow exposed to Spanish,' said Amanda Lynch, manager at Tree Top
Toys store in Washington. Dora's cousin in the series, Diego, also is
increasingly popular, Cullen said. A toy in which he lets children go on
rescue missions with him and his animal friends, providing comments in
English and Spanish, is a top seller at Toys 'R' Us, she said. Even Tickle
Me Elmo entered the bilingual toy ring. The popular TMX Elmo comes with
three interactive tickle spots on his chin, tummy and toe and sits on the
floor, frantically rocking himself up and asking for more tickles in
English or Spanish. Lynch says her store ran out of Elmos a few weeks ago.


The popularity of bilingual toys also stems from American parents who want
their children to learn a second language as early as possible. 'They see
the need and the success that you can have when you know more than one
language,' says Ana Lammersdorf, who runs a bilingual home day care in
Potomac Falls, Virginia, where she takes cares of babies and toddlers.
Spanish may be a natural choice for a second language, since Hispanics are
the fastest growing minority in the United States with a population of
more than 42 million, and account for more than one-fifth of all children
younger than five in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Hispanics are also a growing economic force, with buying power that is
expected to reach $863 billion in 2007, surpassing that of
African-Americans, according to a report by the Selig Center for Economic
Growth at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.

Also, most of the 10 to 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United
States are from Mexico, and speak little or no English, immigration
specialists say. The increasing number of Spanish speakers in the United
States has raised fears of a 'mexicanization' in the country, says
immigration analyst Jeanne Batalova, from the Migration Policy Institute,
a think tank in Washington. This happened specially during the last
decade, when immigrants started to move from the border states to the rest
of the country, Batalova said. But she thinks demographic changes also
bring opportunities. 'It's good to give that extra resource to a child,
it's a resource that everyone should take advantage of,' she said.


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list