Bosley, the Language Bear

The Past, the Present and the Future of Bilingual Children

Just as the world has changed drastically over the last 100 years, so has bilingualism and its place in our global world. In most countries, there are much higher levels of bilingualism among children and adults than just 30 years ago. So what has caused these changes and what does it mean for our bilingual children today?          children_world

Language diversity

Bilingualism is not a completely new concept. In North America alone, it is estimated that somewhere between 250 to 1000 American Indian Languages existed and were spoken in the 16th century. And in many parts of the world, the rich and wealthy have often studied foreign languages. But not to the extent, of mass bilingualism. The true rise in global bilingualism began at the

beginning of the 21st Century. With mass industrialisation, communication and travel becoming more important and viable in our lives, the need to be independent as nationalities has lessened.

Mass communication along with increasing globalisation, have meant that people now not only need to speak multiple languages for work, they may have to move across the world to make a living. Business sectors such as tourism, technology, international relations, media and science among many others, now require individuals some level of bilingualism in order to study and work with their peers.

And these global needs have been reflected in second or foreign language instruction since the 1970’s. The efforts of academics such as the linguist Noam Chomsky (Second Language Acquisition) or Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences) have not only changed the way we teach and learn on a global scale. They have also allowed us to provide effective and functional second language learning and to effectively increase levels of bilingualism on a major scale.

Some interesting facts about Bilingual children today:

  • A US Census in 2000 showed that children who speak minority languages are a fast growing segment of US society. More than 9.7 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 speak another language than English as their first language at home (1 in 5 children).
  • Somewhere between 60 and 75% of the worlds population is now bilingual.
  • The majority of countries now include a t least one second or third language at elementary and high school levels.
  • In some countries like the US, there are now as many bilingual children as monolingual children.
  • In the 10 years from 1990 to 2000, amount of language minority children in the US rose by 55%, while the amount of children in purely English native speaking homes only grew 11%.

What are the Advantages of Bilingualism?

If bilingualism is increasing on a worldwide scale, it is important to understand the implications of this for our children. Clearly there is a need to teach our children more than one language for their future social, academic, professional and personal future. But what other advantages does being bilingual hold?

As far as general learning and language skills go, bilingual children are certainly at an advantage. Bilingual kids find it easier to learn new vocabulary, rhyme sounds and words, break down language into phonetic parts and categorize language. Bilingual children are more likely to be avid readers and although they may have stronger abilities in one language, will eventually become fluent readers and writers in both languages. Bilingual children on the whole are good listeners, have strong social skills and can empathize and connect with a wide variety of people.

In addition, research has shown that bilingual children have higher levels of executive function than monolingual children. Executive functions are cognitive abilities that allowed us to achieve certain goals. Children who have higher-level executive functions are more capable of skills such as problem solving, reasoning, analyzing and generally have more creative and critical thinking skills. And The most recent research into bilingual brain development and executive functions, suggests that attentive focus and the ability to concentrate, are highly developed in bilingual children.

Win It Before You Can Buy It!

18017030The Spanish-English edition of Bosley Goes to the Beach will be coming out in early May and will be available for purchase from Amazon soon, but right now you have the opportunity to win your copy even before the book is published!  I’m giving away 3 autographed copies of the book to some luck winners, so go to the link below to enter your information and be included in this giveaway.

How to teach a second language to your home-schooled children

We all know that knowing a second language is quite advantageous in the modern world what with the advent of globalization and the ever changing times. Other cultures rise and come to power and it is sometimes a good idea to learn as much as possible about the other culture in order to have a fruitful and good relationship with them. That is why it is actually important for parents to know that teaching their children a second language can prove to be an advantage in the world at large.

Of course, this is actually easier said than done as learning a new language for children can be challenging. Please take note that once full into adulthood, it becomes quite difficult to learn a new language and even if successful, learning to get rid of one’s native accent is all but impossible.

So of course, the best way to teach children a new language is by starting them off very young. Second languages are best learned while learning their first language, as some researchers have come to discover. Also, it is through complete immersion in another language that a child can more easily adapt to a new language.

As for languages themselves, parents are often at odds whether its teaching them a prevalent second language such as Spanish as it is one of the world’s most widely used language or Swedish, which is actually rarely used. While the advantages of a widely-used language is immediately obvious, there are those who say that a minority language can be advantageous when addressing a business that has little knowledge of English.


What to Consider when Raising a Bilingual Child

A bilingual person can be described as someone who is able to think, speak and eventually read and write in two or more languages. There are many factors to keep in mind when raising a bilingual child, in order to encourage and motivate them to succeed.
Mother Helping Daughter with Her Homework

Do I have to be bilingual to raise a Bilingual Child?  

You don’t necessarily have to be bilingual yourself, in order to raise a bilingual child. If you clearly see the benefits of bilingualism for your child, your family and your current or future situation, it is perfectly viable to teach your child a second language without being proficient in it yourself. Of course, it is more challenging. However, there are a multitude of resources, learning programs and techniques to help your child along their way.

Bilingual Goal Setting

Before you start out on the road to raising a bilingual child, make sure you have your goals and priorities clear. Are you expecting oral fluency? Are you Interested in reading and writing skills? Or do you expect your child to use their bilingualism in an academic or professional capacity in the long run? These are important questions to ask yourself, so that you know clearly what the language learning goals and expectations are. This will help you and your child to meet your goals reasonably, with the rig ht level of commitment from both of you.

Encouraging Second Language Learning

Adopt a strategy for your child’s language learning and stick to it. Young children who are learning a second language may take time to reveal the fruits of their labor, as they internalise the language before using it. So don’t get frustrated at first if it seems they are not learning or producing little functional language. You can decide between using either an immersion style at home (where the c hild learns the minority language at home and the primary language from the community) or direct instruction from one parent (usually whether both parents speak their native language consistently at home). Both approaches are equally effective, as long as your child receives daily input from the new language and recognises a purpose for learning it.

Exposure to the New Language

Learning a new language is long-term process and does not happen overnight. A young child learning a second language will pick it up slowly at first, on a day-to-day basis. Without you noticing it, the minority language is developing and taking form in the bilingual child’s brain. So it is important to be relentless and encouraging in immersing your child in the new language.

Language Learning Capabilities

It is essential to recognize the link between your child’s language learning capabilities and their overall development. When a child is learning their first language they follow what seems like a biologically wired pattern for developing language skills at certain ages. Whether this is babbling and imitating sounds at 6 months old, or structuring sentences at 3 years old, most children achieve the same language learning goals at the same developmental age. So it is important to consider these developmental milestones when raising a bilingual child, in order to know what they are capable of achieving at each stage of their development. This will help you to have realistic expectations of their language development and support and encourage them along the way.

Experimenting with Language.

Young children experiment all the time with language. This perfectly normal. It is how they learn how it works and how to use it. It is not uncommon to hear them use language incorrectly and while it may seem that they are not learning, this is how they internalize chunks or experiment_0bunches of speech. So while it is important to model correct language use for them, outright correcting their speech can be de-motivating.

Make Language Learning Fun!

It’s essential to make second language learning fun for your child and yourself. The more you can find ways to connect it to their everyday lives, needs and even their first language, the more re relevant and enjoyable it will be. After all, young children learn to use language skills in their first language, because there is a need to communicate. So it is important to be playful and serious. To relate the new language to their interests and needs through using books, songs, stories, games and riddles to capture their attention and make the language real!

Bosley Getting Ready for the Beach!

Bosley is very excited about his new book coming out this spring called “Bosley Goes to the Beach”!  He meets all sorts of new friends this time and of course learns lots of new words.

The book is designed to be a self-guided learning tool that allows children and parents to learn new words and phrases together with Bosley.  With highlighted words, simple sentances, repeat phases and contextual illustrations, this book also teaches numbers 1-4 and has two-page spread vocab pages that make pointing and learning easy and fun.

The illustrations are now complete and I will be putting the book together in the coming weeks.  Look out for a giveaway of the book before you can buy it though!  I will be giving away several copies before the publication date!!

Follow the Langauge Bear on Facebook or Twitter for more information!


Household Objects that Children Should Learn in Spanish

The thing is, learning a second language is never really as easy as it sounds. While there are many adults who believe that children are more able to quickly learn a new language, this is not always the case as it often takes time and plenty of guidance from parents for children to fully understand and utilize a new language. The best way to do this is by immersing them into the language, this means that you will place the child in a position that he or she hears and must use a given language on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to find the name for ordinary objects and get the child to say it in a different language.

This is often a sound strategy when it comes to teaching Spanish to children. After all, the best way to start with teaching a second language is by starting with the basics. Such as how to speak some of the most common phrases and nouns in Spanish would be a good example of this. That way, a child can learn to recite a number of words to him or herself when viewing or using an object.

Some of these basic words can be:

House: la casa

Chair: la silla

Table: la mesa

Desk: escritorio

Room: el cuarto

Living Room: el sala

Bathtub: banera

Bath Room: el bano

bed: la cama

blender: la licuadora

chair: la silla

chest of drawers: la cómoda

couch, sofa: el sofá, el diván

dishwasher: el lavavajillas, el lavaplatos, el friegaplatos

drier (for clothes): la secadora

iron: la plancha

oven: el horno (el horno microondas, or simply el microondas, microwave oven)

stove: la estufa, la cocina (usage varies with region)

vacuum cleaner: la aspiradora

table: la mesa

toaster: el tostador, la tostadora

washer (for clothes): la lavadora

To teach a child to learn Spanish, it would be a good idea to get them to memorize some of the mentioned words and have them substitute the words occasionally so that they can learn more quickly.

Fun Traveling Activities with your Bilingual Children

Summer is just around the corner, which means that its timeto start planning your next vacation with the kids! Indeed, traveling is a fun way to spend some free time and have a break from the daily routine. Aside from this, did you know that traveling also provides a lot of exciting ID-10070249opportunities for learning the minority language? Below are some suggested activities to help enhance language learning during your travels

On the way to Your Destination

1. Alphabet games

How about playing a game of ‘Alphabet Search’ using both languages. The mechanics of the game is to go through each letter of the alphabet, searching for the letters from the things you see all around you; from road signs, restaurants, billboards, license plates, and more. The letters can be as it is or found anywhere in a word or combination of letters (beginning, middle, or end). When someone has found a letter, everyone then moves on to the next letter of the alphabet. If the language that your bilingual child speaks uses a non-romanized alphabet, see if they can find the letter of the first sound of the characters in the words that they spot. Another alphabet game that you can play is the game ‘Things that start with..’. The mechanics is to call out the objects that start with each letter in the alphabet. For instance, start with the letter A, and everone calls out the objects they see that start with the letter A. For example: “Abby’s Diner”, “automobile”, “animals”, etc. Once everone has mentioned enough objects starting with the letter or if none can find an object in that letter, move on to the next letter. You should decide ahead of the game which language is going to be used (or both if you prefer) so that the objects in the language will be searched for. It would be great to use one language for the first game, then play it again using the second language. You can play this game while you’re on the highway, at the airport waiting to board your flight, or wherever you deem fit.

2. Scavenger Hunt

Another fun game to play with your bilingual children is ‘Scavenger Hunt’. Before going on your trip, list down objects (in the target language) that you think you will see along the way. For example: restaurants, trees, road signs, animals. For the fun of it, you can include unlikely items such as chicken crossing the road, dancing monkey, skipping cow. Print out the list and give it to everyone as you start your journey. Every time one item is spotted, put a mark beside the item. If you will be boarding a plane with your kids, you can include items like: no smoking sign, seatbelt, pilot, etc.

3. I spy

‘I spy’ is a famous traveling game that most children and adults know because it’s easy, fun, and everyone can participate. To start playing, one person chooses something and shares something about the object, starting with the line “I spy with my little eye..” For instance: “I spy with my little eye something yellow.” then the others will try to guess the item the person is pertaining to. It is essential to choose items that can be seen for a long time during the journey such as items inside the car, trees, clouds, grass, road signs, etc. You can use the target language or encourage the use of both languages in playing the game.

4. Picnic Basket Game

This is a fun memory game that goes through the alphabet and can be done in any language. The first person will start with the letter A and shall say “I am going on a picnic and packed..(an item that starts with the letter A, example: apple)”. The next person adds something with the letter B and also repeats what the first person said. For instance, “I am going on a picnic and packed bread and an apple.” You can also change the first sentence to make use of other things such as clothing, sports, countries, etc.

At Your Destination

Immersion is Key

Traveling provides a wonderful opportunity to discover destinations, immerse in different cultures, and converse with the locals. For bilingual families, summer can be a great chance to go on a vacation to their home country or in the country where one of their languages is spoken. Doing so will help their children develop the minority language. While they spend time and immerse in the culture and the people, they get to know more about their roots and be able to speak the languange naturally. It would also be beneficial if you engage your child in a wide variety of activities so that there’s a greater opportunity to interact with family members, play with children who only speak the minority language, and to converse with other people in public. Not only do they become more exposed to the language, they also gain a deeper sense of identity while getting to know their roots.

Have a fun and safe trip!

4 Practical Tips for How to Raise Bilingual Children

Isn’t it a wonder when children quickly learn how to converse, let alone speak in several languages? Indeed, it’s miraculous how incoherent mumbles of babies can progress into a multiude of words and meanings. What if you want to raise your child to be bilingual or multilingual? Below Young Family Having Fun In Parkare some practical ways on how to successfully raise bilingual children.

1. Open Communication Within the Family

It’s healthy for couples to discuss their options and decide on a solution that they both agree upon, and that which would ultimately benefit their child. For example, what if your spouse doesn’t want you speaking a foreign language with your child that he/she doesn’t understand? An insecure partner may feel like an outsider when you don’t include him/her in teaching your child a new language. With this, it is important for parents to discuss and reach a compromise that would work best for them.

2. Encouragement and Exposure

Encouraging your child is truly an essential ingredient for him/her to learn a new language. Alongside this, providing enough exposure definitely helps in language development.And as people become more open to the idea of speaking two languages, the possibility of adding more attracts many. While it may be enough for a child to absorb the number of languages spoken in the household, it is definitely possible to successfully teach as many as four languages at the same time on the condition that you can provide enough exposure for each. Moreover, research suggests that for a child to speak a language, he/she needs to be exposed to it 30% of their waking time.

3. Be Practical

Upon deciding to teach your child a new language, it is essential for you to have an achievable plan. For example, you may discuss who among family members, guardians, or teachers speaks what language to whom and follow it. The most common among successful language systems is when one person always speaks the foreign language to the child. The second most common language system is when each family member speaks in the foreign language. And if you wish to add another language apart from that which is spoken in the family, or if none of your family members speak the specific language, an outside source such as an immersion environment, tutor, or nanny may be helpful.

4. Find a Support System

Having a support system is very encouraging. Find other parents who raise their child to speak your language. You’ll gain knowledge and be able to share your doubts and joys with them, and vice versa. This also gives way to future play dates where your child can learn natural conversation in the company of other kids. Books, movies, music, and toys that focus on the minority language can pave way to giving exposure to your child, but there are also a variety of household items that you can utilize such as tableware, place mats, etc. 5. Patience is a virture Parenting requires patience and committment in nourishing your child. The same goes when raising bilingual children. Don’t pressure your child if he/she doesn’t speak as quickly as his peers. Rather, you should give more emphasis on encouraging and marveling at the development of his brain. Always give him praise even in small accomplishments. Once you hear words such as “I love you” from your child in your language, it won’t matter if it took a little bit more effort.


The Value of Context in Language Learning

Nowadays, There are a multitude of ways for bilingual children to learn languages. From flash cards and language classes, to interactive multimedia programs, different opportunities continue to sprout. However, what parents and educators may sometimes forget is the value of context in 5555409_origlanguage learning. Although teaching materials such as flash cards and multimedia programs may be fun and educational, it does not encompass the scope of language enrichment one learns from real human interactions and conversations. We use language in order to communicate with each other, and it is therefore best learned naturally – by way of stories, discussions, and conversations.

When it comes to bilingual children and those who are just starting to learn a language, the same goal applies — to give them as much varied language exposure as possible. There is actually no single approach in teaching language due to the fact that every child is unique and have different language levels. Having said this, it’s fundamental to provide varied opportunities for language exposure and interaction to progressively benefit each child.

Tips on How Bilingual Children Can Learn Language in Context

1. Reading Out Loud

Although you’ve probably heard of it before, we continually advocate reading books out loud to children because of its wonderful benefits. For one thing, it’s a great way to introduce vocabulary words in context since there is a story being told. Books below a child’s language level even prove to be beneficial because it includes more subtle elements of language which we may often forget such as rhythm, intonation, speed, accent, and more. Books featuring different cultures would be great. Another good idea is to let children read out loud to each other.

2. Games

Playing games is a fun and informal way to get everybody involved. Choose games that uses language, but is easy enough so that everyone can participate. Remember that children shouldn’t feel panic or worry about their language skills in such games.

3. Circle Time

It would be great to gather children together for “circle time” to discuss certain topics and encourage them to listen to others and converse as well. Normally, it would be better to keep the circles small so that it would be less intimidating. Explain to the children that it is not right to laugh at others’ language skills, and let them know that they have different levels when it comes to language development and what’s important is that they support and encourage one another.

4. Sing-Along 

Singing songs together is a fun way to encourage learning language in context. The melodies, rhythms, and rhymes of songs allow for better retention and understanding. Moreover, it gives those who are insecure about their language skills the opportunity to naturally learn language as they sing along.

5. One-on-one conversations

Have weekly one-on-one conversations with each child. That way, you get to know them better, understand their different needs, and thus help each of them blossom in their own way. Moreover, this presents an opportunity for adult and child to bond. After all, it’s essential for children to know that key adults in their lives take time to sincerely listen to them, more so as they are still developing their language skills.

Yes, language development is partly about learning words, phrases, and how to compose them into correct sentences and paragraphs. However, it is also about how such words relate to our emotions and interactions with others. With this, it is truly beneficial to learn words in context, and we can do so through real interactions and conversations with others. The bonds that we establish are likewise essential because such experiences have lasting value.