Learning a second language can have a lot of advantages, especially when using it for business purposes, sharing ideas and opinions or simply in making new friends. Unfortunately, learning a new language can also be very challenging. Early language learning while we are young children is generally most beneficial and has been proven to be the best way to obtain and retain proper grammar and pronunciation skills as early learners’ minds are impressionable enough to easily accept this new language as a part of their core developmental skill set. As adults, we recognize the value in learning a language and can accomplish the task of becoming fluent through hard work and dedication, knowing what impact our efforts will have on our daily lives, and how this skill will eventually enrich our jobs and relationships and increase the number of opportunities that present themselves.
Just as it is hard to imagine what it feels like to go swimming if you have never been, at the age of a high school student it can be difficult to see the benefit and impact a second language will have to improving your life. And equally difficult is it to actually utilize the amount of cognitive capacity it takes to commit an entire new language to memory, and on top of that, to actually implement that linguistic knowledge in an environment where it can be applied, challenged, and, most importantly, practiced regularly.
The amount of barriers to entry for a high school student to learn a second language pile up faster than you can imagine! And yet this is when the majority of second languages are taught in public schools. Also, they are generally offered as a required course thereby eliminating any sort of self-motivated factor that is essential to retaining this magnitude of information. Without specific job prospects, relationships or travel plans in mind, it would be difficult for anyone to muster the self-motivation required for learning a second language. At the high school level, kids are simply saturated with so many new opportunities and potential paths that language learning is easy to overlook, especially given the above barriers to entry.
If you want your child to learn a second language, unless you want them to wait until they are grown to realize and implement the self-motivating factors for themselves, it is important to be that motivating factor as a parent. Give them reasons to learn, reasons to be curious, give them insight into foreign cultures, foreign sights and sounds and let their insatiable childhood curiosity be the relentless engine driving their language learning vessel.
Alternatively, however, just to reassure you that your high school student is not a lost cause, if your child is in high school and just beginning a language learning course for the first time, it is important to encourage them and help them identify the self-motivating factors for themselves. The important thing to note here is that your motivating factors may wildly differ from their motivating factors. If you can help them realize their own motivation for learning a language and they will undoubtedly have the capacity to learn and and retain their second language as they transition to adulthood, given that they have the appropriate practical outlets for practicing and nurturing their new skill.
Silly, silly toddlers. Yes, the twins are now old enough (15 months) to be considered toddlers! Their favorite word by far is “doggy”, pronounced “daawww-DEE!” With a strong accent on the second syllable, and usually followed by the same word again and again. They’re definitely catching on to the fact that they are on to something and they’re having fun making sounds that they get recognition for. We read to them every night and and talk to the constantly. Our nanny is a Spanish teacher so they’re getting a good amount of exposure to Spanish, and I do my best to speak to them in Japanese and associate new words with objects they already know.
One of the things that feels the most important at this stage is getting their little vocal chords making new and different sounds. It’s amazing to listen to the sounds they come up with and they are very proud when they discover a new vowel or consonant sound. You can see the wheels turning as they explore their capabilities and try to match what you say. Oliver came out with his version of the word for “cheese” the other day, pronounced “Ghi!” (with an exclamation point). Nope, it’s not even close but he’s proud as punch that he can say it and he takes a few seconds before he says it to form his mouth into the right shape.
Since they are trying so hard right now to replicate what we say, I think it’s important to make strange noises that challenge them in that way. Not just English sounds, and not just foreign words, but also completely ridiculous sounds and babbles that make them really wonder about all the sounds they can make. Not only is it fun (and ridiculously cute) but it’s a great way for them to exercise their little vocal chords in a way that will hopefully make speaking many different languages much easier as they continue to develop.
Repeating their babbles back to them can be construed as “baby talk” and I don’t think that that is always constructive. Rather, I think that providing the opportunity for them to hear real words and sounds is probably best for their vocabulary. However, I do think it teaches them that there is value in repeating what others say. If they hear me repeating their noises, they will be more likely to try to repeat my noises (words). Additionally, the vocal dexterity that they will gain by making silly noises and experimenting with their capabilities will serve as a constant reminder to them of the variety of sounds they are capable of. It’s my hope that second languages with different vowel sounds, different consonants and different intonation will not be quite as foreign if we maintain this level of vocal dexterity practice.
In addition to teaching new words and phrases in a foreign language, Bosley Builds a Tree House also teaches morals of friendship, teamwork, leadership and accomplishment.
At first, Bosley and his friends are happy to play in the forest, climbing trees and playing games. But tuhen Bosley Bear has the grand idea to build a tree house. He presents his idea to the team and opens the floor for discussion. Once it is decided that building a tree house is a good idea, all of the friends sit down around a blueprint and begin sharing their ideas on paper. Everyone contributes some aspect of the design to make it a unique collaboration.
Once the plans are finalized all of the animals help Bosley in their own way that subtly empowers children to utilize their own unique skill set. Squirrel frantically runs about measuring everything with the tape measure. Rabbit jumps up and down on the structure to make sure it is soundly built. Fox works from the ground and operates their improvised elevator. Raccoon trundles back and forth carrying lumber to Bosley. And Owl swoops in to put the finishing touches on that are out of reach for the other animals.
When the tree house is complete, it is a work of art and something that the whole team can be proud of and enjoy together.
Join Bosley on this bilingual journey as he struggles to understand what the other animals are saying. “Why don’t the other animals understand me when I talk?” he asks.
Bosley learns patience as he diligently learns how to speak other languages, one word at a time, and he discovers a wide world of new friends waiting to be made. This book is sure to impress upon any child the importance of language learning in a way that they can relate to.
The book is available in the following translations:
In order to encourage your child’s interest in a second language, and at the same time maintaining a strong friendship with your child, try creating teaching them a few words in a second language that you can use as “secret code words”. Here’s what I mean…
If you teach your child the phrase “Do you want ice cream?” (in German this would be: “willst du Eis?”) this would give you a good opportunity to suggest a special parent-child outing without anyone else knowing what you’re up to. Or “Let’s go shopping” (Spanish: “Vamos de compras”)
Your children will feel proud that they understand these words especially if they are around friends or other students who don’t know what the two of you are talking about. Even simple phrases like “please” and “thank you” can be empowering for a child to be able to usefully implement in the appropriate scenario.
Bosley’s series of books are designed to teach foreign language, including English as a second language. And they do so by means ofa variety of interesting techniques. If you’ve read any of the books you will notice that they all contain a couple key words, on every page, that are highlighted in both languages. This is a tool that can add a fun element for kids and can be used strategically by parents and teachers.
The words chosen to be highlighted are two or three of the words that embody the theme of the story on that page. To read the story in a very minimalistic way, you could easily just recite these specific words to summarize the entire story. I always encourage reading to even very young children but I realize that the attention span of a toddler may not be that of an older child.
Simply flipping through the book and reading these words will allow you to open to a page, point to the picture or an element of the picture and say the words in one or both languages. Doing this will help your toddler learn word associations and eventually it will allow them to follow along with a simplified version of the sequence of events in the book and ultimately, the plot.
Building event sequences in young children is an excellent way to help their brains develop. It is thought that humans first develop memories by recognizing event sequences and being able to recollect mini story lines.
I would encourage you to try this with other picture books your child enjoys as well. Instead of reading the story word for word to your toddler, give them a change of pace every now and then and summarize each page of a picture book with one word or a short phase. Their attention span may be long enough to realize the order of events more easily than while reading the whole book.
I get a lot of questions about Bosley and how I came up with the ideas for the series, and what my motivations were. Recently I recorded a variety of answers to these questions and published them on YouTube. A few of these videos are below, and to watch more videos and subscribe to further video publications please check out my YouTube channel. The first three videos you see here pertain to the first book, Bosley Sees the World.
Question #1: Why did you create the Adventures of Bosley Bear?
Question #2: How can foreign language be taught using Bosley Sees the World?
Question #3: What life lessons did you intend to teach in Bosley Sees the World?
Thanks for watching!
This spring, inspire your children to learn a new language by bringing them on Bosley’s next adventure.
In “Bosley’s New Friends”, Bosley wanders through the forest wondering why he can’t communicate with the other animals. He gets strange looks from the animals and can’t seem to include himself in their games. After learning how to understand what they are saying, his eyes are opened to how many new friends he can make by learning other languages.
Of course, the book is intended to teach your child new words and phrases while enjoying this inspiring story in a similar manner as previous Bosley books. There will be labelled illustrations, repeat words, line-by-line translations and other interesting opportunities to incorporate language learning lessons into story time.
Illustrations are underway as we speak and they are coming out just as wonderfully as ever at the hand of the talented Ozzy Esha.
Hello readers and Bosley fans! Thank you so much for all your love and support in 2013! Bosley has another book set to be released this spring and 2-3 more books after that that will be published in 2014. Stay tuned on Bosley’s facebook page for more information about those new books.
If you would like to know more about me as an author, please come visit my brand new FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE!
I have big plans for this year and plan to move into publishing other children’s books. Some will be science related, some will be related to martial arts and who knows what else! I would love to be able to stay in touch with you and share things on a more personal level through this new facebook page. I love networking with other authors and publishers, meeting teachers, parents and interested youngsters, so please take a look and connect with me!
Have you ever wanted to write a children’s book? I have also been helping a lot of people get started on their journey of writing a children’s book. It’s a great time to be a children’s author and I love seeing people of all ages take interest and find the initiative to get started following their dreams!! I would love to help you if you are interested.