In the 1970s, The Electric Company was a kids television show made by the Children’s Television Workshop, the same folks that made Sesame Street, but designed for a slightly older, getting-ready-to-read audience. Fast-forward to 2009. The Electric Company is being made again by what is now called Sesame Workshop.
Each half-hour show contains a main story featuring The Electric Company kids and their antagonist Prankster peers. Vignettes interspersed between parts of the story focus on letters and sounds that relate to the vocabulary highlighted in each episode. Most are catchy songs or games and contests played between the characters. I’ve embedded several videos featuring silent e in this blog post.
The best thing about this show is that it does not baby it’s audience. Scott Cameron, the Director of Education and Research for Sesame Workshop, has experience teaching ESL with music and games. The focus of The Electric Company is on motivating children to read and this really can’t be done by talking down to an increasingly media-savvy audience.
In our house, Silent E is a Ninja (below) is a favorite that has achieved earworm status. Try to watch it once or twice and tell me it’s not stuck in your head the rest of the day. You’ve been warned.
The Electric Company has even brought back its classic silhouetted heads reading words together. These are really effective demonstrations of learning to read by sounding out words.
Will these videos work with adult students? It depends on the student. These videos are fun and poppy and targeted to a younger audience. But as a way to expose language learners to lots of fun, catchy, repeatable reinforcement, these really can’t be beat. Do you know of other good videos? Post a link in the Comments section.