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Learning languages with Muzzy, the clock-eating fuzzy alien
June 28, 2014 8:25 AM   Subscribe

“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!” If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back in 1989 (six episode playlist). The shows were both translated in to French, German (playlist), Spanish (and the Spanish vocabulary builder), and Italian (Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back).
posted by filthy light thief (32 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
But did it actually work? This question kept me awake at night as a child.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:34 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


That first line wanders into my head at the most random times. Fallout from a childhood of Nickelodeon mornings.
posted by curious nu at 8:34 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


THE ENDING OF THAT YOUTUBE VIDEO IS WRONG

WROOOOOOOOONG
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:42 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Ha, I was just thinking of Muzzy yesterday for the first time in years and years, specifically the "je suis la jeune fille" line, which was a running joke in my family when I was growing up. We had the Spanish one, I think. No, it did not teach me Spanish. Of course, I only watched it a handful of times.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:44 AM on June 28


If you really want to jog your memory, here's a block of ads from Nickelodeon from 1991.

As for the functionality of Muzzy in teaching kids new languages, here's a write-up on Muzzy, which says makes the following claim:
Muzzy follows national foreign language standards which emphasize the use of functional language, repetition and “spiraling”. In Muzzy, words and concepts are first introduced, and then introduced again and again in many new contexts.
The full package included other educational material, which could help reinforce lessons.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:44 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Ja, zij spreken Engels. En nee, het zijn geen Engelse, maar Nederlandse kinderen.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:46 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


There's a version in Irish as well. The line "Is mise Muzzy -- Muzzy MÓR!" is burned into the heads of everyone who watched it in primary school.
posted by rollick at 8:49 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


"We'll charge you 28.17 a month for 6 months, plus a one-time shipping cost."

Wow, $200 bucks for 2.5 hours of video and some workbooks.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 8:51 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I've seen this! We watched it in French class in fifth grade!

It didn't work.
posted by dismas at 8:58 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


My children are watching this now. I am not sure how they will think of it.
posted by jadepearl at 9:07 AM on June 28


jadepearl, I'm seeing what my little guy thinks of them. So far, the ESL version is keeping his almost three-year-old attention, and I can see how the repetition could eventually get the lessons to sink in. (And I have become rather fond of the music.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:16 AM on June 28


If I could just have these and a Zoobooks subscription 8-year-old me would be so happy.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:18 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


"Hey, Jungle Jimmy, more Wildlife Treasury Cards just came! We could cancel after the next shipment..."
posted by Spatch at 9:21 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I'm still slightly traumatised by the Irish version. Muzzy mór indeed.
posted by knapah at 9:47 AM on June 28


Here's a clip of the new CG Muzzy, which is kind of weird, and not too awful.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on June 28


for a long time my sibling was convinced he was remembering a wierd dream. But no Muzi was real.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:09 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


The entire early-morning lineup of 1980s nickelodeon can be interpreted as a continuous fever-dream.
posted by Avenger at 10:17 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


MUZZY LIKES PARKING METERS
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:21 AM on June 28


We always watched Téléfrançais with the sad and creepy anana.
posted by winna at 10:24 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Get out of my brain! I was trying to remember what this was called just two days ago
posted by azarbayejani at 11:11 AM on June 28


This is fantastic. I was missing out when I was a kid, clearly.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:15 AM on June 28


Found some transcripts:

French
German
Spanish
Italian
English
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:30 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Ah, "Je suis la jeune fille." I have been trying to figure out what exactly they *said* in French on that commercial for the longest time! You don't know what a relief this is....
posted by sevenofspades at 12:12 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


What I really want is some links to some Pinwheel episodes I can show to my 24 month-old daughter.

(runs off to download Muppet Babies episodes...)
posted by daHIFI at 1:15 PM on June 28


I wanted this thing sooo bad when I was the target demographic but it was one of the few things I got a hard "no" on due to cost.
posted by bleep at 1:32 PM on June 28


"We'll charge you 28.17 a month for 6 months, plus a one-time shipping cost."

That made me lol too.
posted by sneebler at 3:16 PM on June 28


This is the Muzziest post I've ever seen on MetaFilter.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:07 PM on June 28


Ha! I checked these out of the library back when I was homeschooling my children. We enjoyed them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 PM on June 28


oneswellfoop: This is the Muzziest post I've ever seen on MetaFilter.

Well, it's the Muzziest since the last one (dead links to the English language version, split into 20 parts).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:22 PM on June 28


FADE IN: Small French Cafe:
Someone: "Do you speak French?"
Obese 45 year old man with facial hair: "Yes, I know how to say 'I am a little girl.'"
Someone: [ WTF look / double-take ]
Obese 45 year old man with facial hair: [turns and looks at camera] "THANKS, MUZZY!" [Zoom in to thumbs up]
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 9:17 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


My father spoke at least French and Spanish at a high level, but never got around to teaching us himself. Instead we had Muzzy in both of those languages, plus Italian and English. Unfortunately, we only ever watched it in English, so learned nothing. I loved it very much. My sick little mind thrilled at all the counting and naming and categorising, the eating of delicious-looking clocks, and the beautiful forbidden love between the poodle princess and the gardener rat or whatever she eloped with. A-E-I-O-U, I Love You -- what a classic love song.

Thanks for this, filthy light thief! Have been looking forward to the sequel for like 20 years.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:41 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


And Esperanto. Mi estas Mazi. Granda Mazi!
posted by Gordafarin at 5:54 AM on June 29


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