Release Date: OUT NOW
Ages: 3 Years-Primary (further age expansion planned)
Wattsenglish is a UK Limited Company exclusively involved in the teaching of English as a foreign language to young and very young learners.
Drawing on his many years of experience teaching children around the world, Steve R. Watts, co-founder of Wattsenglish Ltd., brings the children into his colourful world of stories with real facial expressions that engage, amuse and educate.
You know the scenario… you’ve let the kids watch children’s videos on YouTube whilst you get some much-needed [insert task here] done, whilst responsibly keeping an ear out as you do it. As you are happily [insert verb here] away, you hear a catchy (but annoying) tune that your children (and you) start singing / humming along to, and before you know it, you cannot get it out of your head, and it stays with you for weeks!
Now imagine if that song was educational, and, surprisingly un-annoying… well this is how we found out about Wow English TV and their awesome Steve & Maggie videos. Our youngest child, Jacob (3), started watching the videos about six months ago, and he really enjoys singing along or interacting with the on-screen activities.
For those of you who are yet to learn about Wow English TV, it follows Steve and his avian friend Maggie the Magpie, as they tackle a wide variety of subjects including colours, shapes, animals and numbers (to name just a few). Steve, who is the main face of Wow English TV, makes learning fun with his catchy laughter and lyrics. Occasionally you are also treated to Steve’s aunty (which is, rather amusingly, Steve in a dress and glasses), whom the kids also get a kick out of. But it is Steve’s foil Magpie, who helps provide the equal quantity of laughs, thanks to her mischievous ways; be it eating all Steve’s cake, painting him or turning him into a baby using her ‘Maggie magic’.
Whilst the videos are incredibly entertaining and, more importantly, educational to watch, there’s actually a whole system behind them, supported further by a book and dvd series which acts as a companion to the videos themselves. Steve himself has had many years of experience teaching English to children, and he and his team have developed a fantastic system with the Wattsenglish method.
For our two children, (Amelia and Jacob), we ordered the Wow! Blue Book & Wow! Yellow Book, which offer age suitable activities that they can take part, along with the accompanying DVDs, which feature songs and interactive videos. You also get a Maggie the Magpie puppet, which the kids were over the moon with! (Tip: She also comes in handy at meal times). 🙂
To give all our readers a head start with some catchy songs, we highly recommend: Doctor Robot, Fashion Show, I Hate Shopping and Monster Train! (you can watch these in the players, below).
ToysWorld managed to catch up with Steve for a quick chat:
1) Is there a particular age group you enjoy teaching, and what challenges / benefits do you find from the different age ranges.
I think for me, it is more about the level of English than a specific age range. I love teaching absolute beginners. You often have to win them over at the start but when you do, you get to share in their joy and sense of achievement when they overcome their perceived limitations. That said, the age range I find the most fun to teach are the 4-6/7 year olds. They are usually open and willing to try anything. They don’t over think what they don’t know or cant do and just have a go. It can take a lot of energy to set up the structure and regime of a typical class for this age group, but once you get there you can really have fun with them and they give you back as much energy as you put in.
2) Your songs are incredibly catchy! How long does it take from concept to recording to complete each one?
It really is difficult to say, as it changes dramatically from song to song. I work with a very talented musician, Augustin Bernard (Gusta), on the songs and we seem to have found a good rhythm (excuse the pun) to working together.
Typically, once we have the target vocabulary and language structures we want the song to practice in place, we get together and write the melody and lyrics at the same time. Then I usually have 10-15 minutes to rehearse while Gusta records a basic melody line, before I have to lay down the initial vocals.
It is very common that I have to remind everyone that I am recording immediately after the song has been written, often before the melody is even in my head, and if the melody doesn’t get there quickly then it is taken as a good indication that the song isn’t working or isn’t so catchy. There then starts the stage of refinement and post production. This can take 1 or 2 days before we get a fully fleshed-out take that we are happy with.
3) How have you found that kids and parents have responded to your teaching style, and do you feel its something that could be incorporate more into mainstream schools?
The response to the teaching materials has been very positive, and during our teacher training sessions we show the teachers how to use the video clips as a teaching aid that enlivens and enriches their English language lessons. Many of these teachers are from state schools and are pleased they have reliable (and affordable) access to a native English Speaking teacher.
For parents, they are often grateful for an approach that dramatically increases their child’s exposure to the target language and sets up a ‘natural’ system where the children say with Steve (on the DVD) in a way that they get to hear their child speaking English and can see what they know.
4) What will Steve and Maggie be up to for Christmas this year, and do you have some Christmas videos coming up?
Well! Maggie usually flys off to somewhere hot and tropical for Christmas while I love the cold, crisp air of winter. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for a white Christmas this year!
We have a few Christmas songs and story clips about to be posted on our YouTube channel – Wow English TV. One about my old and dusty Christmas tree that needs replacing, and a few classic Christmas songs that we have re-worked and updated, including a special version of Jingle Bells for Christmas day!
5) Do you have more great content planned for 2017 and can you tease us with what we can look forward to?
There is so much to come! Not least, the first book in our mid-Primary range is scheduled to be released in late 2017, it will be called Wow Bronze! The book after that is called Wow Silver! And if anyone can help me with the name of the 3rd book in the series please let me know! 🙂
We also have a host of clips ready for Wow English TV, and there are rumours already being spread, about an iOS/Android App for smart phone and tablets from WattsEnglish. My money is on Maggie being the one that has let the secret out! Oh, that naught, naughty bird! 🙂