Sesame english titlecard
Premiere 1999
Network STV & TVBS (initially)
Various (later)
Seasons 1
Episodes 52

Tingo pushes his bags on a train, in the opening theme of the series.

Tingo and the elephant

Tingo in front of an elephant.

Sesame English is a television/video series developed as a collaboration between Sesame Workshop and Berlitz International. Launched in 1999, with Taiwan and China as the debut markets, the series differs from the typical international versions of Sesame Street in that it was devised as a supplement to ESL instruction, that is, teaching English as a second language. The target age group is children from 4 to 7 years old.


The project includes fifty-two 13-minute episodes for TV, along with instructional materials for print, audio, video, and CD-ROMs. Dr. Lewis Bernstein, producer and key developer of the series, explained that "The aim is to introduce English phrases and vocabulary in an entertaining way, using conversational language along with repetition, rhythm and rhyme, cool music styles, and lots of humor—much the way we do on Sesame Street." Each quarter-hour episode combines new framing footage with Sesame Street inserts and clips.

The series stars a new Muppet character, Tingo, a multilingual "international cat." Though all of the new footage was filmed in New York studios, 30 to 50 percent of Tingo's dialogue is dubbed into the native language of the target country. Tingo addresses viewers directly in the region specific language, but all other dialogue is in English. Tingo's explanations thus provide a bridge for native speakers to adjust to English.

On STV and TVBS, the series aired daily, showing two different episodes each week. On Fridays, the show would instead be replaced by Are You Ready? and Sesame English Made in Taiwan, a variety show that would reinforce the English lessons from the week's two shows.


In 2003, Sesame Workshop announced a new variation, using the same footage, Sesame Español. Intended for viewing at Berlitz Language Centers, the variation used the same approach, only with Spanish as Tingo's secondary language, and with the aim now being instruction in Spanish for English-only speakers.

DVD releases of the series, available in the U.S., include five available audio languages for Tingo's dialogue: Spanish, Hmong, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Vietnamese. An English only track is included for more advanced ESL students.

Italy began airing the show in 2004, and it was broadcast in Poland, Hungary and Croatia as part of the one-hour programming block Sezamkowy Zakątek from 2006 to 2008 (titled Sezamkowy Angielski).

Characters and Cast


Niki, Tingo, and Baby Jake


Niki and her band members Mike, Samantha, and Tom with Tingo.

Tingo, the only new Muppet character, is an exchange student living in America with his best friend, Niki. Teenaged Niki lives in the basement of her parents' home, and has an extended circle of family and friends, including grandparents, siblings Katie and Kevin, baby Jake (played by an adult actor), and the members of her band. Niki's band, Children at Play, includes Mike, Sam (Samantha), and Tom. Stage actors Roger Bart and Jonathan Freeman play various members of Niki's circle, as well as episodic roles. Plots center around sports activities, music, and family get-togethers and social events.


  • Two scenes in the series' opening sequence featuring the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City were altered subsequent to the attacks on September 11, 2001. An animated shot of Tingo's flight flying into New York City, with prominent visible landmarks the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers, was replaced with a shot of Tingo's passport being stamped. Another scene showed Niki chasing Tingo past a skyline with the towers visible, later changed to an ordinary city block.




Production crew

See also

External Links

Start a Discussion Discussions about Sesame English

  • Sesame English Episodes order and numbers

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    • Holy carp! This is exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for! And it matches another document I found of the first 20 eps. I have...
    • Also merchandise?I havea Tingo puppet that was to be used byteachersbeside a tingo pluch and books
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