Bosley, the Language Bear

Take Advantage of Your Child’s Questions as Optimal Learning Opportunities

questionBeing bilingual is definitely an asset in this modern age, what with all the different cultures of the world coming together and the world continuing to shrink because of the ever-growing improvement of communication between cultures.  While being able to speak two or more languages is definitely an advantage, it is not an advantage that is widely shared by everyone and is one of the reasons that language barriers continue to exist between many different races and cultures. So having your child learn another language can prove to be advantageous in the long run.

The reason bilingualism is not more common than it is, is because of the high barrier to entry.  Learning a language at the beginning of our life when our minds are most absorbent still takes years.  Also, children may not always fully comprehend the importance of learning another language and some of them might find it difficult to learn it as quickly as other children. This stems from the fact that some children simply don’t want to learn a new language.

bicycleThe first time children hear a new word, they immediately make a connection between the experience of the object, and the corresponding word.  If a child knows that the funny looking thing made of a triangle and two big wheels is called a “bicycle” then they’ve already made an initial connection between the word and object.  Generally children will make this connection in their first language, but from time to time, it is a powerful learning opportunity to have them make this initial connection with a word in the second language.  If that object was connected to the word “jitensha”, there is a greater likelihood that they will hang on to that vocabulary word long into their life.

It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the first time they see an object without a name; when they are looking for something to call it.  Many babies say “dat” and point to an object to ask what it is called.  The best time to teach a child anything, in my opinion, is when they are initiating the learning by asking a direct question like this.  That is when they are truly engaged and self-motivated to learn.

With no lack of questions coming from small children, these opportunities are abundant, however sometimes parents get lost in a barrage of seemingly endless questions missing out on a myriad of learning opportunities.

Bosley Bear Through the Years

Meet Bosley Bear!  I want to introduce you to the evolution of how Bosley came to be and how much he has changed over the past few years.  Once the name was decided, Bosley needed a face.  My wife and I both started sketching trying to come up with a friendly, quirky character that children would be able to relate to and want to learn from.  Below are a few of the very first sketches that launched Bosley on his epic journey to publication.

The first intention for Bosley was to serve as a simple logo for the Language Bear Dual-Language bookstore.  He would sit in the corner of the website and provide a welcoming face to a new website.  Little did we know, he would come to life in later years!

Kind and fuzzy:

Fuzzy Bosley Bear

 

 

A little wacky:

Goofy Bosley Bear

 

 

Very curious:

Very curious Bosley Bear

 

But he needs a hat:

Bosley Bear's Iconic hat

 

Yeah, kinda like that…

Let’s put it on his head:

Bosley and his hat

 

 

Even fuzzier still:

Fuzzy Bosley and his hat

 

Ooh!  What about…. Chinese Bosley (fyi, his name is “Bao Bao” in China)

Bosley Bear in a Chinese hat

 

Nah… I like the other hat.  Let’s sit him down and make him comfortable.

Bosley Bear sketch

 

Maybe he’s a whistling bear…?

Bosley Bear whistling

 

Now for a little color!  Here’s where Bosley starts to get more friendly and easier to relate to.  Look at that smile and those inspired eyes!

Bosley in color, 2D

 

And yes, Bosley does enjoy whistling…

Bosley_sitting_whistling

Bosley stayed in this form for quite some time at the top of the Language Bear website, and welcomed many guests, until one day he needed a face lift.  I commissioned this next drawing out to someone who can draw far better than myself and this was the point that I realized Bosley has much larger ambitions that to simply be a logo on the website.  He needs a story.

The classic Bosley logo

 

Once a story was created, I found my friend Ozzy Esha who has brought new life to Bosley in (at this time) three published books.  Below are some of the creations that Ozzy came up with in those three books.

Bosley Waking up to a Beautiful Day

 

Bosley Walking into the woods

 

Bosley and crab

Bosley, the Language Bear

It’s such a great feeling to know that this little character is known and loved by so many children and has the power to help them learn and grow into strong intelligent little people.  I am very excited to continue the Bosley series and who knows what Bosley will look like in the future…

3D Bosley

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Who is Bosley Bear?

Bosley Bear is a young adventurer with an insatiable appetite for exploration. In the first book, Bosley Sees The World (French: Bosley Decouvre Le Monde), he exclaims “How is it the world can be so big? I have so much to explore!”, and I believe that perfectly sums up who he is.Bosley-Spanish Cover

Using Bosley Bear as a learning tool is relatively progressive in the sense that it does not follow the typical “classroom” format of memorizing based on a specific category. The learning process is fluid, which is absolutely important to sustain interest in children. Being an adult navigating through bilingualism, I realized that unconventional tools of learning are perfect for developing the unique capability of getting to the very heart of what the other person is saying. And this progressive method is not only great for children; it is surprisingly suited for learning adults as well.Bosleys first words italian cover

I believe that the first priority in developing a new language is to sharpen the skill of reading between the lines such that the child can understand the essence or the heart of what the person with whom he is speaking is saying beyond the strict technical barrier of grammar. Living with two languages is like existing on two different universes simultaneously. It demands so much more from you to adapt, to switch and to respond, but you come out with a more expanded view and deeper method of communication. It is never simply on the surface. You realize that these are just words, and the meaning that a person is trying to get across may in fact be different. Using unconventional tools like The Bosley Bear books achieves that first priority. The second priority is to sharpen the child’s articulation and grammar to expand his capability to express himself.

Surprisingly, Bosley can help us adults as well! For instance, I started learning French back in college and somewhere I lost track of it. Five years down the line, I re-examined my life and saw that it had lost so much of its initial passion and color, and all I kept thinking was I needed to go back to learning French. I needed that creative juice and zest injected back into my life.

Hence, I started to review my basic French again. As painful as it may sound, however, my memory is not as absorbent as it used to be. Memorizing a list of words from a folder collated by my previous college professor was taxing and it yielded unsuccessful learning on my part. Without a strict teacher who would grade you, it is difficult to use a strict academic format on your own.Bosley Beach Cover - German

I remember going through YouTube videos to check if they had French shows that taught children how to read and write, a show like Dora the Explorer, only in French. I wanted to start with something as simple as that so I could remember the lessons better. And then, lo and behold, I was introduced to Bosley Bear. Thank God there was one book in French. Surprisingly, I discovered that even for adults, using books like these works very effectively because of the visual component.

Despite being intended to accompany young children in their journey towards bilingualism, I found that going with Bosley in his adventures showed me three things about him. He displays genuine interest to try anything (whether it was to live in water like a fish or in the sky like a bird as in ”Bosley Goes to the Beach”); he teaches about a vast world of possibilities and is unafraid to conquer it (climb tall trees, see the big ocean, cross the big forest or climb the tall mountain, as in “Bosley Sees the World”); and he reserves every day to continuously have an adventure. And no matter how old we get, these are things we should never forget to uphold.page_05_small_0

Avoiding Second-Language Confusion with a Talking Monkey

As my kids get older and ready for more active language learning, I’m going to start writing about my plans and strategies here.

Here’s an idea to get your child learning a second language while respecting the boundaries of the first language.  Some people are of the opinion that teaching two separate languages within one household can lead to confusion and cause the child to mix languages.  Some people solve this problem by having one parent speak one language and the other parent speak another.  Another way to solve this would be to speak one language at school and another language at home.  These strategies create a separation between the two languages that clearly differentiate two different methods of communication.sarusan

A method I will be trying to encourage linguistic boundaries is the use of a stuffed animal.  At these young ages, babies can watch and listen to a stuffed animal talk in a funny voice for quite some time and maintain interest (relatively speaking..)  I’m not sure why but I’ve chosen a little stuffed monkey to be the one to speak Japanese.  He doesn’t know English so will only use Japanese words with the kids and will only respond to Japanese commands.  I (as the parent) will have the opportunity to explain to the boys how to communicate with “Sarusan” (the monkey) and hopefully it will make for some interesting and engaging language lessons.

How Bilingual Books for Kids are Effective ESL Learning Tools

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With countless career and life opportunities being offered in native English-speaking countries like America, the UK, Canada and Australia, it is no wonder that the English as Second Language or ESL industry is booming. Foreigners who take the time to learn English as their secondary language can be seen advancing in their career more drastically compared with native English speakers learning another foreign language. Despite being a major avenue for foreigners to gain a competitive edge, there are still chinks in the ESL program that should be improved in order to facilitate a more effective way of educating.

Instructors normally use lesson plans, articles and handouts as resources to teach. One very underrated but very promising ESL teaching tool, however, are bilingual books especially those intended for children.

Bilingual books for kids are basic and friendly, but a different approach.

What could be more basic than a children’s book? They are simple and visual, and the flowing storyline makes for a more concrete thought pattern. The colorful and playful nature of a children’s book also facilitate a more cheerful exchange between the instructor and student, breaking down possible walls of apprehension and indifference to learning.

ESL students become frustrated because of the segregation from native English speakers. There are low chances of accelerating into the “more advanced” group and this cuts their chances of competing with and possibly excelling academically in that group and further deprives them of higher education.

It isn’t that they are any less capable. The frustration boils from the fact that they cannot articulate and relay their ideas and thoughts as vividly as they would in their mother tongue. Their poor performance in English is not an indication of a limitation in capability; it simply means they are a different kind of learner that requires a different approach to learning.

Use of children’s bilingual books is an important stepping stone.

One of the major limits of ESL is that the instructor is not required to know the first language of the student. Understandably so, since sometimes he or she would be teaching a room filled with students from varied cultures and languages.

There comes an unavoidable point where both a bilingual dictionary and a picture dictionary can save both the student and the instructor from a lot of frustration and tension. It is ideal to use bilingual books for children as a stepping stone in these very early and crucial stages of learning English prior to using bilingual and picture dictionaries.

A bilingual book makes the student feel comfortable and involved.

Using bilingual books is a wonderful way for ESL students to feel more comfortable learning English, knowing that the instructor is invested in guiding his learning pace. The student can see a genuine intention on the part of the instructor to teach English by going beyond the structured ESL curriculum and incorporating a contrastive approach in favor of the ESL student.

With a more familiar technique in learning, the student feels more accepting, open-minded and involved in the lesson, which initially seemed quite ‘foreign’ to him.

Sadly, there is a higher drop-out rate in schools for ESL students compared to native students. They have to adjust to the mainstream classes and to the environmental changes from their old school to the new one. More importantly, because of the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers tend to give ESL students a heated focus for “falling behind”. Seen as a liability that must be trimmed, they tend to passively allow ESL pupils to simply flunk out.

As educators, it is important to adjust the teaching style to suit what is effective to the student’s learning style. With the use of picture dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, children’s bilingual books, and a lot of patience, the learning process can kick off smoothly. Of course, it must serve as caveat that the language subject being taught is English, and that going back to the student’s first language is only a temporary tool in the learning process. It is not the permanent mode of learning.

Bosley Toots His Own Horn

This week marked a milestone for Bosley on Amazon and myself as an author.  We hit 16,450th best selling Amazon author (out of hundreds of thousands).  I know it doesn’t sound like too much, but it’s taken a while to get below 20,000.  I thought I would take this opportunity to toot my own horn a little bit and share with you some of the praise Bosley has recieved from reviewers (and most importantly, children) from around the world. tootinghorn

Here is what some of the folks on Amazon have had to say about their adventures with Bosley:

 

“My 3 y.o. lil girl is not a great listener but bosley captivates her attention and stimulate her imagination”

 

“My 2yo nephew was repeating the words I knew, and really enjoyed the story in general.”

 

“What a wonderful and fun way to learn a new language!”

 

“When I asked my young daughter what she thought of the story she said she felt calm after reading the ending, because Bosley realized that he was unique and special in his own way.”

 

“The cues and repetition will enable strong translation that will assist with learning a new language.”

 

“The illustrations are beautifully executed and Bosley is a delightful character. This book is well worth purchasing for your child.”

 

“The story itself is delightful. A curious bear on an adventure would capture the interest of any child. I applaud this author and his wonderful outreach to teach our children. ”  ~ Karen Kelly Boyce

 

“The illustrations are beautiful and it just might tempt a child (and his/her parent) to look up from all that texting and notice the environment around them.”  ~  The Kindle Book Review

 

I’ve been so enjoying hearing what people think about Bosley and I hope that if you have a Bosley book on your shelf you will head over to the Amazon page and leave a short review.  I read ALL of them and love to hear what people think.

FAN PHOTO CONTEST!! Send a photo for a chance to win a book!

I absolutely LOVE seeing photos of my young fans with their copy of their favorite Bosley book on their lap.  And now I’m offering FREE BOOKS to 3 lucky fans.

I want to see MORE of these photos and put them up on my spiffy new pinterest account :)  Send in a photo of you and your child (or just your child… or just you, for that matter!) enjoying your copy of one of the three published books and you will be entered to win a free copy of the new book “Bosley Builds a Treehouse” when it is released this fall, OR any one of the other books you may not have yet, your choice.

I will be selecting three winners from from the submitted photos and will get in touch with you at the end of the contest (which will coincide with the release of Bosley Builds a Treehouse) to find out which book and which translation you want.

To enter, please send your photos to info@theLanguageBear.com.  All photos entered are likely to be displayed publicly on facebook, google and pinterest, (so feel free to be goofy!)

Here are some other excellent photos that have been submitted along with book reviews:

bosley_reader_1

Submitted by Momma Running in Heels

                                                                                               bosley_reader_2 Submitted by Cool Kidz Cool Trips

                                                                                               bosley_reader_3
Submitted by One Artsy Momma
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Submitted by Johnny and Angela
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Submitted by… okay, it’s my own kid!  How can a dad resist??

Aren’t those the best!!?  I am hoping for many years of great kid pictures like these all enjoying my buddy, Bosley.

DON’T HESITATE, Send me your photo(s) now, before it’s too late!

A Sneak Peek at Bosley’s Next Adventure!!

Writing Bosley books is starting to become a fairly regular thing for me and I am LOVING it!  Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my little books.  I really hope they are still being enjoyed and have a comfortable spot on your child’s bookshelf.  Since my twins were born I have been collecting and refining the books on their shelf and am very excited that Bosley has a definite spot in their lives from now on.

My next goal is to get the fourth book “Bosley Builds a Tree House” released for Christmas this year!  There is a lot of work to do before then and not a whole lot of time, really.  My buddy and illustrator, Ozzy is already hard at work on this book and I’m very excited about it!  This story has undertones of encouraging teamwork while Bosley and his friends work hard together to build something incredible.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the very first concept sketches of this book!

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These are my own handy-work, so of course Ozzy will put his artistic spin on it and make them look MUCH better, but I love seeing these books come together from start to finish, so I hope you enjoy these too!