European Language Movies for Children and Adolescents

by TigerPanache | created - 13 Nov 2016 | updated - 15 Jun 2017 | Public

Also including American Sign Language, because I wanted to. Please sort by list order to see the movies I consider suitable for children listed first.

Incase you'd like to remain entirely Eurocentric, I've made a note of which movies are non-Eurocentric. This includes many Hispanic rather than Iberian Spanish and Portuguese movies, many French movies from Africa and the Near East, and a handful of movies from various European countries about foreign immigrants instead of Native Europeans.

If you wish to give your child a classical education then cover only ("only") Early Modern English, Italian, French, German, and Greek.

This is by no means a complete list. The trouble with finding European-language movies (other than in English) suitable for children is that most of them are unrated, and you can get hit with unexpected sex and/or depressingness that I consider unsuitable for children. Usually I just have to see the movie and find out for myself whether I consider it suitable for children or not.

However, YMMV. What I consider suitable for children, you might not consider suitable for children, or for your own individual children. Please check out the movies in advance and have an idea of what you're getting yourself into before you sit down to watch them with a child (or anyone who's sensitive).

I've also included animated movies that can frequently be found dubbed in European languages (most commonly French, German, and Spanish, occasionally Italian, though Disney movies can be found dubbed in all kinds of languages) and documentaries that can frequently be found with voice-overs in European languages. I have not included dubbed live-action movies, because the non-lip-syncing drives me nuts, and I consider it counterproductive for helping a child learn a language. Documentaries and animated movies are especially helpful for young children who can't read subtitles, because you can watch the movie in English first and then again (and again and again, knowing many young children) in the other language.

I treat Czech and Slovak as separate languages, rather than as Czechoslovakian, and Serbian and Croatian as one language, Serbo-Croatian. I treat Ukrainian and Belarusian as different languages from Russian. This comes primarily from reading however and not from much personal experience with the languages, so I could be wrong.

I include Swiss German and Plautdietsch (Mennonite Low German) as types of German. I include Afrikaans as a type of Dutch. I include Moldovan as a type of Romanian. I include Bosnian as a type of Serbo-Croatian.

Concerning Yiddish - Yiddish is classed as an Indo-European language - as a Germanic language, in fact, which means one would assume I would have classed it near the beginning with German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. However, Yiddish has heavy Semitic elements which in my opinion would make it very hard for an English-speaking child to pick up on after only exposure to German and Dutch. Since the Semitic, and not the Germanic parts of the language are what make it hard for an English-speaker to learn, I class it as a Semitic language with Maltese. Though Yiddish is a variation of Hebrew, I do not include Hebrew movies on this list, because Hebrew is a Near Eastern and not a European language.

If you're interested in introducing your children to a broad selection of European languages and aren't sure what order to use for maximum ease of comprehension/acquisition, I've had good personal results with the "most to least similar to English" approach (assuming the child's native language is English), in an order like this (for languages on the same line, I'm not sure of the best order within that group):

Early Modern English Middle English Old English German Luxembourgish Dutch Old Norse Faroese Icelandic Norwegian Danish Swedish Ukrainian - Russian - Belarusian Bulgarian - Macedonian Slovenian - Serbo-Croatian Czech, Slovak - Polish Lithuanian - Latvian Latin Romanian - Albanian Italian Portuguese Spanish Catalan French Romansh Irish Gaelic - Scottish Gaelic - Welsh - Manx Greek - Armenian

However, because of cultural influence, the Romance languages, especially Italian and French, are also closely related to English, and to a lesser extent Greek as well, and you might want to introduce those earlier, especially if you're reading Latin and Ancient Greek. (This is another advantage of starting with dubbed documentaries and animated movies, because it means much earlier exposure to Italian, French, and Spanish than the above list would seem to indicate.)

Other languages included on the list below, that are not Indo-European, are: Abkhazian ASL Basque Georgian The Semitics - Yiddish and Maltese The Turkics - Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Kazakh The Uralics - Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian

I go into some little detail about these language families under the first entries for ASL, Basque, Finnish, Georgian, Maltese, and Turkish, and under the movie Russian Ark, the first entry on the list. But, long story short, the order goes like this: ASL Basque Indo-Europeans Uralics Caucasians (Georgian and Abkhazian) Turkics Semitics

However, it might be worth considering putting the Uralics and Caucasians before the Indo-Europeans, so that the list order essentially descends from Northern to Southern Europe.

A word on dead languages. For helping children learn living languages I strongly favor learning through extensive exposure – listening to movies, music, audiobooks, and youtube videos, speaking to native speakers in meetups, over skype, and through travel, writing in the language to pen-pals and for personal pleasure, as well as translating to and from the language, and reading bilingual books, picture books, native-language movie subtitles, and then longer books – with minimal grammar acquisition and vocabulary memorizing. However, for dead languages, learning through exposure is all but impossible unless the parent is already fluent and can read extensively to the child in alternating English translation and the language itself. So this means hardcore grammar downloading and vocabulary memorizing, because I consider phrase memorizing and reciting idiotic and pointless. For learning dead languages I recommend: Early Modern, Middle, and Old English can be worked back to by reading progressively older and older English works, getting comfortable with the new style, vocabulary and pronunciation, and complexity of language at each stage before moving backwards. Old Norse can be accomplished very well through exposure to Icelandic and Faroese, and extensive reading. Runic script will need to be learnt. Wheelock’s Latin Mastronarde’s Introduction to Attic Greek You might consider including Ancient Egyptian, as in my opinion Ancient Egypt is closely tied to European culture.

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1. Russian Ark (2002)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Fantasy, History

86 Metascore

A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.

Director: Aleksandr Sokurov | Stars: Sergey Dreyden, Mariya Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, Mikhail Piotrovsky

Votes: 18,064 | Gross: $0.04M

Russian. In my opinion suitable for even very young children, as the visuals are absolutely striking even if you're not following what's being said.

Introduction to Indo-European languages The Indo-Europeans, the original speakers of almost all the languages of Europe, were a collection of tribes of people who lived on the Russian steppes. They were semi-nomadic, domesticated the horse, invented the wheel (the Sredni Stog tribe), herded cattle, are the original source of milk kefir grains (which have not been recreated since), and invented the battle ax. Before they were Indo-Europeans, they were probably originally-originally from Anatolia, in Turkey, before moving north into Russia and the Ukraine, and from there traveling west into the rest of Europe in successive waves of immigration. The Indo-Europeans were warlike, producing massive amounts of weaponry, and eventually immigrated to/invaded all of Europe, wiping out the native languages and a good deal of the culture there at the time. We (all people of European descent) are partially descended from the Indo-Europeans. The Indo-Europeans also went to the southeast into northern India (hence the “Indo” part of “Indo-Europeans”), mixing with the Dravidian people who already lived there. They didn’t spread through all of India, however, unlike in Europe. This is why in southern India people are darker-skinned, continue to speak Dravidian rather than Indo-European languages, and have different cultures than in the north. So the Indian Indo-European languages are like our half-siblings – different mother, same father.

ASL

Despite these types of videos being advertised as being for babies, I recommend not watching any TV with children until age 3.

3. Baby Signing Time Vol 1: It's Baby Signing Time (2005 Video)

30 min | Short

Baby Signing Time Volume 1 sets your baby's day to music as you learn signs and songs for everyday events in baby's life-eating, family, pets and more.

Director: Travis Babcock | Stars: Rachel Coleman, Cameron Ackerson, Al Azad, Caitlyn Engh

Votes: 13

4. Baby Signing Time Vol 2: Here I Go (2005 Video)

28 min | Short, Family

Baby Signing Time Volume 2 sets your baby's day to music as you learn signs through song for everyday events - washing up, getting dressed, going places, getting ready for bed, and more.

Director: Travis Babcock | Stars: Rachel Coleman, Cameron Ackerson, Al Azad, Emery Jeffers

5. Baby Signing Time Vol. 3: A New Day (2008 Video)

31 min | Short, Family

Baby Signing Time is a great first step into signing or add Baby Signing Time to your existing Signing Time collection for new songs and reinforcement of those beginning signs. Created ... See full summary »

Director: Damian Dayton | Stars: Rachel Coleman, Lindsey Abellera, Abigail Agudelo, Megan Allan

Votes: 5

6. Baby Signing Time Vol. 4: Let's Be Friends (2008 Video)

28 min | Short, Family

Baby Signing Time is a great first step into signing or add Baby Signing Time to your existing Signing Time collection for new songs and reinforcement of those beginning signs. Created ... See full summary »

Director: Damian Dayton | Stars: Rachel Coleman, Lindsey Abellera, Abigail Agudelo, Megan Allan

7. Signing Time! (2002– )

TV-Y | Family, Music

Rachel, Alex, Leah, and Hopkins explore the world through basic American Sign Language with songs, movement, and examples.

Stars: Rachel Coleman, Alex Brown, Leah Coleman, Zachary Roger Brown

Votes: 46

ASL

10. Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time (2007 Video)

31 min | Short, Family

Add a Plot

Director: Jim Janicek

Votes: 7

Stand-in for Baby Einstein: Baby Lullaby, which as far as I can tell is not listed on IMDB.

11. Baby Einstein: Baby's Favorite Places First Words Around Town (2006 Video)

35 min | Short, Family

Marlee Matlin and the Baby Einstein children teach signs for neighborhood places and things in this lively instructional video.

Star: Marlee Matlin

15. Baby Beethoven: Symphony of Fun (2002 Video)

29 min | Short, Family, Music

Add a Plot

Star: Lauren Fretz

Votes: 25

19. Baby Einstein Language Nursery (1997 Video)

Family

A video meant for younger children featuring basic words in many languages, accompanied by colorful imagery.

Star: Julie Aigner-Clark

Votes: 68

Multilingual, if memory serves French and German were the primary European languages.

20. Baby Einstein: Lullaby Time (2007 Video)

31 min | Short, Family

Add a Plot

Director: Jim Janicek

Votes: 7

21. Baby Einstein: Baby MacDonald (2004 Video)

Family

Learn food, animals, and other things on the farm.

Director: Jim Janicek

Votes: 48

24. Baby Mozart (1998 Video)

170 min | Family, Music

Baby Mozart is a movie in the Baby Einstein series aimed for toddlers. It is meant for babies and toddlers to listen to the music of Wolfgang A. Mozart (Mozart For Babies)

Star: Tom Guigni

Votes: 80

Stand-in for Baby Einstein: Neptune's Ocean, which as far as I can tell is not listed on IMDB.

31. Baby Einstein: On the Go (2005 Video)

45 min | Family

A baby's discover of things that go (vehicles) on land, sea, and in the air.

Director: Jim Janicek | Stars: Isaac Acevedo, Logan Acevedo, Sage Bonfire, Sean Bonfire

Votes: 19

Stand-in for Baby Einstein: Wild Animal Safari, which as far as I can tell is not listed on IMDB.

36. Baby Einstein: Baby Wordsworth (2005 Video)

39 min | Short, Family

Add a Plot

Director: Mark Lavine | Star: Marlee Matlin

Votes: 15

Stand-in for Baby Einstein: World of Colors, which as far as I can tell is not listed on IMDB.

41. Baby Einstein: World Music (2009 Video)

33 min | Short, Family