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The Manly Alpha-Male’s Guide to Language Acquisition Part III: Dora the Explorapocalypse



If you look up manliness in any reputable dictionary, you’ll find two definitions: 1) Dora the Explorer, and 2) Matt (see also: ‘pushups’). Dora the Explorer is the greatest language learning tool ever created. It was both figuratively and literally forged by God and gift wrapped by Jesus (and Buddha tried to eat it), and I can’t recommend highly enough that you embark on the same quest I have just assigned myself:


That’s right, I’m going to watch 100 episodes of Dora in French, and can’t watch anything else until it’s done. I don’t know why I put pushups in there but I trust my instincts, so it stays. I’ve spent the last few days downloading said episodes, and now I’m ready to rock and completely psyched. Maybe too psyched. Earlier I squatted a little too much weight and puked all over my dog! Now that’s excitement! Let me tell you why Dora is the best:

1) Ridiculously Comprehensible Input
Input-focused learners (see also: ‘correct’) are split into two groups: the ‘comprehensible input’ crowd, and the ‘any input’ crowd. I’m in the latter group, but I recognize the immense benefits of comprehensible input, and after watching some Stephen Krashen videos ‘Ramses’ posted on ‘his’ Twitter page, I decided to suck it up and switch over to extremely comprehensible input for a while. I’ll admit this: you can certainly pick up language at an accelerated rate, even though you have to watch sappy kids shows. But, I found a way to offset this sappiness: I overhead-press a cinder block while I watch. Again, this made me puke on my dog a couple of times, but I think the benefit exceeds the cost.

Dora is the ultimate in comprehensible input. Every episode has the same plot (find something/get somewhere, cross 3-4 types of geography, solve number/color/simple vocabulary puzzles on the way) and more or less  the same cast of characters. The brilliance of this show is that the visuals and actions are so perfectly matched with the audio that the language is understood without any effort. I defy you to not understand a vast majority of an episode’s dialogue in your chosen language after watching a metric ton (2204.6 lb.) of episodes. Really, I defy you. For the doubters, I conducted a scientific experiment to prove that Dora works:  I listened to it in the background while making love to hundreds of women internationally, and still understood what was going on despite the fact that my only visual was a sprawling shag-carpeted room full of rug-burned supermodels. Science in action, baby.

2) DtERS: Dora the Explorer Repetition System
That’s right, the show itself is a repetition system. The same phrases, vocabulary, characters, actions, items, etc. are repeated throughout a boatload of episodes so you will encounter them again and again. For instance, say Dora has to pass through a garden, over a bridge, and over a mountain in one episode- she’ll have to traverse these same obstacles in future episodes, but mixed in with other new obstacles. The genius of it makes me want to cry, but I’m trying to stay hydrated for the upcoming pushup season.

3) Basic Phrases
Dora has a limited number of phrases that are 1) obvious given the circumstances in which she says them, and 2) extremely common and useful for more advanced media. “Where is it?” “How many?” “Is this him?” “Where are we going?” “I need your help!” etc. I swear you’ll use this stuff later (it certainly helped me with Lost), and thanks to the repetition of the show it will be pretty much tattooed onto your bulging brain by then. I also tattooed them on my biceps just in case.

4) Basic Vocabulary
Same as above, but with common single-word vocabulary. You’ll learn mountain, forest, river, garden,  beach, volcano, where, which, him, her, star, backpack, map, and others faster than you can admit you want to tie me to a chair, break my ankles, and make me write you a sexy novel.

5) Protein
Try to get in at least one gram of protein for every pound of body weight daily.


Q) Are you going to stop posting for a while so you can do more language learning?
A) Yes.

Q) Will you still answer questions in the comments?
A) Yeah, I guess.

Q) Do the parts where Dora speaks English bother you?
A) Meh.

Q) I think you’re overestimating your male prowess in your articles.
A)  I’m going to rip your spinal column out of your neck before you finish your next sentence.

Q) You don’t even know where I li

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Matt is an unorthodox teacher and, above all, an unorthodox writer. He taught himself French mostly by watching TV, and now lives in Korea where he is training for the International Bench-press/Bicep Biathlon.


Julien December 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Great stuff! Hopefully, you will soon have a blog for yourself:-)


Matt December 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Hi Julien,

Unfortunately I can't learn French, be the pinnacle of masculinity, and run a blog at the same time. Maybe down the road, but not yet mon frere, not yet. Thanks for the nice comment though!


maugrassia December 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Yes, be like ze AJATT. Get your superior results first (which you already are) and then share it with the people?


Lisa December 6, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Hey!!! I already do this! Awesome, I always thought I was the only adult (well, I'm not exactly an adult, I'm 16) watching Dora the Explorer. Dora la exploradora en español.


Ramses (Spanish-Only December 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I actually thought I hated Dora the Explorer, but then I watched an episode over at DpStream (in French) and I loved the simpleness and how fast you learn new words and phrases. It's mindblowing how effective it is.

And welcome to the blog, nice to see another Dutchy :-).


Lisa December 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Ah, thanks, I've been reading your blog for a while, I don't comment on blogs a lot though. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I gave up on learning the verb conjugations pretty much after writing that post 😛


Matt December 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Hi Lisa,

All of you Netherlanders speak Dutch and English, yet you still want to learn a third language! You people are nuts! If I was Dutch I'd just stop at one second language, hang out in Amsterdam, and concentrate on building a missile system that would take out the Spanish futbol team. But that's just me!

Anyway, Dora is awesome right? Right! Thanks for commenting!


yvonita December 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I want to try this but I can't find Dora in Spanish. All I come up with are weird youtube adaptions marked "no para niños" lol


Matt December 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Hi Yvonita,

When I think of your name I think of a woman named Yvon, and she's standing at a bus stop or something, then suddenly she stands perfectly still and pops in half and this little Yvonita version of her springs out.

As for Dora, this sounds like a job for Ramses. Ramses, can you tell her where she can find some Dora episodes in Spanish?

Thanks for the comment Yvonita!


Ramses (Spanish-Only December 7, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I only found one season though…


Yvonita December 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

Thanks for finding that, Ramses. One season's enough for now anyway. 🙂

Hi Matt, my exchange buddies always called me Yvonita, Ivonita or spelled some other way, so I've made it my "Spanish" name, lol 🙂


Lisa December 9, 2010 at 8:46 am
Balint December 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

Hey, Lisa! Thanks for the site, it's fantastic!

Maybe a lil' bit off topic, but can anybody recommend me similar sites (like this or dpstream) in German and in Italian?


Ramses (Spanish-Only December 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

Damn you Balint, you language-addicted Hungarian! Because of you I have to share all of my secrets once again! Damn you!

Still, my secrets require downloading, but I hope that's not a problem.


(There was another one, something called Bahia pirata, but I forgot the address/exact name and can't find it in my bookmarks list)


@aemoritz December 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Thanks, Balint, now I have all the secrets to spending more of my time watching t.v. and saying it's work. i love work.


Ramses (Spanish-Only December 9, 2010 at 11:56 am

Found the 4th season as well:


yvonita December 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Thanks for that, Lisa.
I just watched an episode – it's a cute show!
I so need to watch this in Portuguese! :-)))


Anna December 9, 2010 at 12:41 am

As far as kids shows go, the classic Telefrancais should be required viewing. It may help to get a little high first.


Matt December 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Two words: talking pineapples.


Anna December 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Yup – your basic essential vocabulary and phrases: Les ananas ne parlent pas, les ananas ne dansent pas et les ananas ne sautent pas en parachute !


yvonita r baybay December 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

hello guys, i am yvonita ricamadas baybay from the philippines. nice to meet you all. merry christmas to all of you. yvonitar. baybay


LInda December 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I would like to watch Dora in French. Do you have a website for that? I am so inspired 🙂 Thanks bunches.


Ramses December 13, 2010 at 9:30 pm

You didn't know that site?


Matt December 14, 2010 at 8:56 am

And may I add that your name is a song from Japan's best defunct punk band, The Blue Hearts. Here's a fun cover of your song (from the movie of the same name):

Thanks for the comment, Linda Linda Linda!


Luke January 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

Hola todos, if any of you are after a simple kid's Spanish cartoon have a look for Pocoyo. There are a few episodes on youtube and if you have a look on google you'll find there are other locations out there on the world wide web you can aquire every episode, ¡GRATIS! Nice simple Spanish for beginners like myself!


brit January 9, 2011 at 6:17 am

lol thank you for making me laugh and want to learn french!


celita June 13, 2011 at 1:16 am

Thanks so much for this link to Very handy. My kids are bilingual, but they are picking up some Spanish from watching Dora. I agree it is great stuff. Easy, fun, and CATCHY!!! the best way to learn.


Neoglitch March 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Querido Matt:

It looks like your dictionary is a bit outdated. Sorry, but you and Dora have been left behind in terms of alpha manly-manliness. The number 1 definition now days is THIS:

Enjoy. And please, capture Ramses in a USB drive!!


Matt March 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm

1. You are mistaken; my dictionary is updated in real time.
2. My Little Pony + French?! Finally, my French comprehension pays off!


Livonor November 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

I don’t believe there is a japanese version of this


Matt November 5, 2012 at 5:52 am

Actually, I think I’ve seen a few video clips of Japanese Dora, but maybe they only did a couple of episodes or something. Check niconico maybe?


Mark March 25, 2013 at 3:04 am

Dora L’Exploratrice! Genius!


Matt March 25, 2013 at 3:57 am

Back ‘atcha!


Magallanes June 15, 2013 at 2:11 am

¿A donde vamos ? ¡A Parke de juego! TRUE enough! My daughter really really loves this even in spanish; she’s 4 so she doesn’t care what tlanguage it is in. That gave me great excuse to watch it even when many people are watching. I began enjoing it and my girl ended up learning a few spanish terms. VIVA la DORA!!


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