Bosley, the Language Bear

Enhancing the Second Language Through Music

whisper_music

Music and singing is something that is definitely enjoyed by most children. When words are injected into melody, rhythm, and rhyme, they often perk up and sing (and even dance) along.
Children’s songs, in particular, usually have catchy melodies and poetry-filled lyrics. These songs are often easy to learn, with short and repetitive sentences that allow for easy memorization and retention. What’s better is that it enables them to learn words in context, in such a way that helps them learn language better.

Bilingual children, in particular, can truly benefit from singing songs using their second language. Though they may encounter a lot of unfamiliar words at first, repeating words as they sing along helps them produce sounds in the specific language. And as they practice the songs again and again, the sounds and words eventually give light to truly understanding the song.

Below are some tips when it comes to introducing songs to bilingual children. Come, and let’s sing along!

1. Repetition

Choose songs that repeat words and sentences in it. Focus first on the repetitive parts. When the children have memorized these, they would be more enthusiastic to participate, and would love to learn the rest of the song.

2. Rhythm & Movement

Picking songs that have a good rhythm is essential. The reason for this is because children find it easier to learn the words when there is consistency and regular patterns in the rhythm of the song. With this, the words should flow well with the beat. To make it more fun, you can bring in some musical instruments such as shakers and drums for children to play with as they sing along.

Together with singing, children love it when there’s movement. Having the freedom to move their bodies while they sing along with the words and sentences in the other language can have a substantial effect on them. One of the favorite movement songs for children is “Hokey-Pokey”, but also see if you can find movement songs of different cultures. A fun activity that you can do with kids is to let them choreograph their own movements for a song. Pick a song that has many movement words and allow the children to creatively illustrate their own moves for the song.

3. Words & Lyrics

In introducing songs to bilingual children, the words of the song are an important factor. When there are too many unfamiliar and hard words, it can be frustrating for a child. Remember that singing songs with children should be fun and inspiring, rather than stressfull. Despite this, you may also want the children to enhance their language skills whenever they learn a new song. What you can do is to go over some or all of the words ahead of time. Helping children understand the words that they are singing would make it more meaningful for them. Moreover, it would be great if you can find songs that contain full sentences that children can use in their everyday lives.

4. Rhyming Songs

It would be easier for children to memorize vocabulary with rhyming songs. Choose songs that contain rhyming words that focus on what your working on. For instance, if you want to practice words with the long-a sound, then look for songs with a good amount of rhyming words with a long-a sound. This would be a fun way to help children understand the variety of sounds in different words. You can also encourage your children to come up with their own songs that have rhyming words and sentences in it

5. Different Languages

Go beyond singing songs in just one language. Encourage songs from the secondary language or any other language. Allow children to share songs from their own traditions and give them the opportunity to teach some simple songs in their language that others can enjoy and learn from as well. This can empower them and help them realize that different cultures and languages are precious.

Bosley’s first press in Espanol!

Thanks to Latinoslared.com, a new article has just been published about Bosley and the benefit of dual language books for children.

Check it out for yourself if you’re fluent!

http://latinosenlared.com/2013/03/bosley-ve-el-mundo-un-libro-en-dos-idi…

When Language Switching Matters

Monolinguals may think that bilinguals who code-switch show deficiency or lack of competence in both languages. However, did you know that code-switching from time to time actually helps develop language among bilinguals. More so, it proves to be beneficial in situations where the people conversing understand such languages, making it an effective communication strategy. Below are some situations where language switching helps.

1. For parties to feel comfortable in a conversation

For example, there are guests in a party that use a language that isn’t your native language, but is a language that you and your children also speak and understand. You would like to make your guests feel comfortable in your home by conversing with them in the language they are comfortable with. At the same time, you can talk to your children in that specific language in the company of your guests. That way, everyone can understand and feel comfortable in communicating with each other.

2. To indirectly share information

Code-switching is also beneficial when you want to indirectly share information. For example, at a party, you tell your children that it’s time to blow the cake amidst their friends using the secondary language. That way, your children’s friends would also understand. The same goes when opening gifts.

3. To explain something thoroughly

There are times when we just can’t fully share something with our children in a particular language. Sometimes, saying it in the other language enables you to fully express what you want to say. By doing so, you are able to explain things better with your children.

There’s really no exact consequence in language switching for the reason that each family has its differences and uniqueness. While experts recommend putting it off while children are still very young, experts agree that when children get a bit older, it becomes less of an issue and actually helps towards language mastery. As children learn more about language and culture, it’s wonderful how they are able to use language switching to be able to fully communicate what they want to say.

Cultivating the Right Attitudes in Learning Language

Let your child work around things they don’t know how to say, but teach them the right way to say it

While children are learning language, work arounds are okay and can help them along the way. However,  you should not let them become too comfortable with it that they forget to learn the real way of saying things. By doing so, you help them explore the language with your guidance.
Don’t be a perfectionist 
 
If you point out each and every mistake in the way your children speak, they might develop a fear in speaking, and this will prevent them from fully exploring the language. You see, fear and too much consciousness ruins one’s ability to converse naturally. Instead, encourage your children to share their thoughts, jokes, and opinions. That way, they would have the confidence to engage in conversations and in the process, learn the language better and in a more authentic way.
Encourage Children to Explore the Language
 
Let your children appreciate the beauty and complexity of the language. Allow them explore, immerse, and converse. Expose them to a variety of books poetry, prose, and even games where they can enjoy and learn at the same time. Go through the possibilities with them and let them fully experience the process of learning the language.
Remember, language learning shouldn’t be a chore. Rather, it should be a journey to discovery and a pathway to wonderful opportunities. In the process, cultivating the right attitudes will definitely help your children learn language in a more fun and meaningful way.

Exposure to the Target Language: How Much is Necessary?

Children have the ability to absorb language quickly. However, there should be enough exposure to the language for them to be able to learn effectively. So how do children learn language? Naturally, they learn through daily interactions and emotional bonds with those around them. For example, there’s language learning while children play everyday games such as peekaboo and when they are talked to when bathed or fed, while having their clothes changed, at the car seat, etc. Indeed, they are very curious and have an open mind as they go about their everyday activities.

Day By Day Learning

Whenever parents or guardians communicate with their children on a daily basis, they are able to pick up on the spoken language. Through months of these daily interactions, young children are able to gradually learn and understand the role of language in social life. Sooner or later, they start to recognize language patterns in such interactions and are able to participate as well, enabling them to learn language better. Meanwhile, as children become more able to communicate the language, parents and guardians naturally start to use more complex language forms while speaking with them. As a result, this helps children in language development. According to studies, vocabulary growth among children highly depended on their exposure to words. This is proof that exposure to the target language is indeed an important factor in language learning.

In conclusion, children who are more exposed to the language in daily interactions tend to learn language better. What determines language learning appears not much to do about what the children are explicitly taught (Ex. through warnings about grammar and usage such as “Don’t end your sentence with a preposition). Rather, what matters is what the children hear and the language that they are exposed with through everyday conversation, and in the variety of situations that they are able to experience along the way.

Source:

http://www.multilingualliving.com/2010/04/23/everyday-language-exposure-…

Image Courtesy of David Castille Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Tips On Reading Bilingual Books Out Loud

1. Create a Comfortable Environment

A cozy and comfortable environment helps encourage a child to listen. Find a special place, may it be a cozy spot in your living room, patio, classroom, or in the middle of a room with comfortable pillows. You can also include blankets and stuffed toys so that the children can snuggle while listening.

2. Choose a Book that You Like

Chances are, your children will notice it if you don’t like the material that you’re reading. Pick books that capture your interest and have characters that you would enjoy portraying. There are a variety of bilingual books available, and you’ll surely find one that captures your taste. Check out http://www.thelanguagebear.com/featured for our featured bilingual children’s books.

3. Be creative: Props and costumes would be great

Use imagination and creativity, without going over the top. See what you can find around the area to help act out a story: a hat, a wand, a puppet, a scarf, funny shoes, etc. There are many ways to use these props and costumes to spark wonder, imagination, and laughter. Using them especially in key moments of the story can make a big difference.

4. Ask questions that are Engaging

Story time shouldn’t make children feel that they are probed with questions that assess and evaluate their comprehension. If needed, you can do so after the story has been told. Rather, get the children involved and excited while reading the story. Ask Questions and allow them to reflect: “Oh no! Is he going down the well?” “I wonder why he chose the red apple?” “Ooh, isn’t that the lovely yellow color that they chose for the room here?”

5. Expressions Make a Difference

Be aware of your expressions when reading out loud. Incorporate different sounds for each of the characters. When the story gets exciting, use a loud and speedy voice. Use a slow and soft voice when it gets sad or reflective. This especially applies in stories with dialog, but even those without the dialog can be astonishing if you use varied expressions.

6. Leave Some Suspense

When reading a chapter book, finish on a suspense-filled chapter so that it leaves the children looking forward to tomorrow’s storytelling session. In short picture books, look for cliffhangers in the middle of the story, and stop and look at each child with wide and excited eyes, until they ask you to continue on with the story. Observe which among the books excite the children the most, and see if you can find more of these.

These are just some suggestions on how to utilize bilingual children’s books effectively. By letting children enjoy these books, we open doors not just to language learning, but also multicultural awareness, appreciation, and values learning, which is essential as children gain a wider perspective of things.

The Joy of Reading Bilingual Books With Your Children

Even before children learn to read, it’s a joy to introduce them to the magic of books. The wide array of stories, pictures, and words, can occupy their minds with fascination and wonder. Magical stories can blossom and inspire them as they go on their way. Furthermore, bilingual books provide an added layer of wonder and encourage learning beyond mere facts and figures. Read on for tips on how to use bilingual books effectively.

 

Ways to Use Bilingual Books:

1. Read the Books Out Loud

Remember when we were young, and adults would read picture books to us? A great factor depended on the way they tell the story: a gentle hum of a fairy, an eerie chuckle of a gargoyle, a roar of a dragon. Yes, we savored every word being said, but what made it more captivating was how the books were read to us. The more involved and into the character the storyteller was, the more the story was brought to life.

In particular, reading aloud helps bilingual children learn language better. It paves way to understanding the story better, as well as picking up on vocabulary. Whether it be an adventure-filled or calm story, we can help bring stories to life and captivate children using different voices, intonations, speed, and a dash of creativity.

Teachers can read the books in the school language while parents can read it in the home language. On the other hand, the storyteller can read it in one language first, then in the other language the next time. As the children are able to listen to the story in both languages, language learning and culture awareness is enhanced. Not to mention, parent-child bonding is strengthened.

2. Show specific words in the other language

While reading a bilingual book in one language, you can point out or show certain words(at a minimum) written in the other language. By doing so, you foster cusriosity and interest in the language without confusing them. This helps them realize that languages can be written in a variety of scripts and letters and that words and sounds can be represented in differerent ways.

3. Encourage Reading in Both Languages

Encourage children to read bilingual books in both languages, even if they’re stronger in one than the other. You see, when children understand the story in the stronger language, it will enhance their understanding of the weaker language while strengthening their understanding of the stronger language at the same time.  Thus, it will help them develop both languages and understand words in context. Read it in one language first, then the other.

4. Ask Questions and Rouse Discussions in both Languages

One of the benefits of using bilingual books is that it provides the opportunity of discussing the same subject in not just one language. By talking and conversing about the subject, children become more exposed to the language and the way it is naturally used.

5. Welcome Books That Feature Different Cultures

It would be nice to read books that highlight different cultures, customs, and traditions. This helps children understand and welcome cultural diversity. In other words, it’s a subtle way to cultivate awareness and appreciation towards different cultures.

6. Make the books accessible (at home, in school, at the library, etc.)

Make bilingual children’s books available at home, in school, at the library, and in other places often frequented by children. If you’re a parent, ask if your child’s school or library provides bilingual books and suggest it to them if they don’t. Alongside language development, providing bilingual books encourages both family members and teachers to immerse with children using the same books.

7. Have Fun With Language

The most essential part of learning and utilizing language is having fun with it. Using bilingual children’s books in a variety of ways pave way to this. Discussing the words, the storyline, the characters and the funny rhymes and letters in a language are just some examples of how parents and teachers can make learning fun for children. Yes, we may sometimes become too focused on language mastery that we forget the value of making it enjoyable for children, but we must remember that having fun is indeed an essential ingredient in language succes.