Bosley, the Language Bear

Share Your Bosley Experience on Amazon!

kid thumbs upHave you enjoyed one of Bosley’s books with your family?  Bosley wants to hear how you enjoyed his story!  Please take a couple minutes and go to Amazon, search for your favorite Bosley book and leave a short, honest review of your thoughts on the book.  This is a good way for you to help ensure that more Bosley books are published in the future!

Book reviews on Amazon are one of the best ways to help Bosley reach more children.  We now have a total of over 70 great Amazon reviews, and counting, for Bosley’s books and they have been extremely helpful.

Thanks to your support, Bosley is getting more popular everyday and helping children learn languages all over the world.  This Christmas, there will be four books available and they will also be available as a set, only at the website.  Whether you want the box set or one of the other books, we’re hoping you leave room on your Christmas list for a Bosley book or two!

Thank you for your continued support!

Bosley’s Treehouse Illustrations Almost Finished!

Ozzy Esha's plan for one of the final illustrations for Bosley Builds a Treehouse!

Ozzy Esha’s plan for one of the final illustrations for Bosley Builds a Treehouse!

The illustrations are just about finished for Bosley Builds a Treehouse and they are looking amazing!  The translations are finished and the book layout has begun.  It’s a tight time table, but I am bound and determined to get this book out to you all before the Christmas season!

Also, I haven’t announced this yet, but be on the lookout for a box set for gifting :)

To the right you will see a sneak peek at one of the final illustrations for the book.  This page depicts Bosley and all his friends admiring their teamwork effort on the treehouse and getting ready to enjoy the fruits of their labors!

From here, Ozzy will take this illustration framework and sprinkle a little of his unique magic dust on it, adding color, detail and lighting to make it a masterpiece.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished, and I can’t wait to show you!

If you don’t already know, I have created a Pinterest board for all things related to behind-the-scenes work and sneak peeks for Bosley fans!  Check it out and enjoy lots of other sneak peeks at Bosley’s history.

Give Bosley a pat on the back by re-pinning some of the images to your own boards :)

Toddler Brain Scan Suggests Early Life is Best Time to Learn Language

Regions of the brain that show leftward asymmetry of myelin (credit: Baby Imaging Lab/Brown University)

Regions of the brain that show leftward asymmetry of myelin (credit: Baby Imaging Lab/Brown University)

Researchers at the King’s College London has just published an article summarizing a recent brain scan done on normally developing children ages 1 to 6 to identify the distribution of myelin in developing brains.  Myelin is a substance that allows communication between neurons to occur very efficiently and is developed as neuronal activity increases during development.

What they found is that the level of myelin had a direct correlation to language learning and that it changed with age.

The study reveals a particular window, from 2 years to the age of 4, during which environmental influence on language development may be greatest.

The findings help explain why, in a bilingual environment, very young  typically developing children are better capable of becoming fluent in both languages; and why interventions for neurodevelopmental disorders where language is impaired, such as autism, may be much more successful if implemented at a very young age.

The type of correlation that the research suggests is that, even if at age 4 our myelin stabilizes, it is still primarily environmental influences and not anatomy that allow optimal language learning.

To read more about the study and the research done, visit: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/news/records/2013/October/Toddlers-brain-wiring-develops-to-accommodate-new-words.aspx

Early Language Exposure for the Twins

Bosley's First Words and Twins

We’ve been having a great time since the twins were born in February, playing and watching them grow and I would love to share with you some of the bilingual activities that we’re undertaking as we go.

It’s said that the younger we are the better we are at learning languages.  We have to be, really.  We’re tossed into a foreign land when we are born and expected to learn not only how to move our mouths, but to make coherent noises come out of them that the people around us will understand.  These sounds would need to be completely different simply based on the geographic location where we pop out.  There is no DNA coding for speech patterns, accent, or vocabulary, the only way we can all initially communicate is through crying.  (And we’ve been having plenty of that with the twins, trust me.  In stereo!)

Over those first few months, babies are already building their paradigms; they are becoming familiar with the sound patterns that they will hear for the vast majority of their lives.  I’ve been doing as much as I can to expose them to other unfamiliar sounds that are outside of what they hear most of the day.  Just a bit of exposure to help their brains recognize and become familiar with many of the sounds that exist in Japanese but not in English.  I’ve been showing them words in the books we read; most of which are English books but some are Japanese, some French, some Italian.  Undoubtedly, the Japanese characters will look the most different to them, but at this point it’s all about exposure and new experiences.

We haven’t really exposed the boys to any television yet.  I’m sure this would be a good topic for discussion, because there is certainly plenty of exposure to be had by watching some Japanese cartoons on YouTube that would be both engaging visually and full of new sounds and great exposure, but we’ve decided, at least for now to keep the exposure to the physical realm.  When the boys do see a TV or computer screen somewhere they are instantly mesmerized and seemingly get lost in some subconscious nether-world.

I do enjoy playing music for them, they love the guitar and they love songs, and I try to expose them to different music genres the same way that I do different languages.  I have also been using TuneIn Radio on my smartphone to pick up radio stations in Japan so that they have the opportunity to listen to fluent native speakers (the DJs) and Japanese lyrics in the songs.  I’ll be continuing to expose them to as much as possible and will keep you posted on anything that I learn that might be of interest.

My Journey into Bilingual Parenting

Tim and the boysI started the series of Bosley books before we had children.  Knowing that we would be starting a family in the coming years I wanted to be ready and I used that dream of a family as inspiration to write the first book.  I have always been an advocate for language learning and have always tried to do my diligence to speak the native language when visiting another country.   (Even worked on my Scottish accent when my wife and I went there, but probably just sounded like a buffoon!)

I knew that second language learning would be very important to me as we took our first steps into parenthood.  I loved learning French from my mother as a child, it always made me feel proud that I knew something the other kids didn’t, like secret code words.  And martial arts has always fostered my interest in Asian culture and language, so when the opportunity arose to take a trip to Japan during high school I did everything I could to make that happen (with a little help from my parents).  I made some life-long friends that I still communicate with there today and have worked very hard to keep up a good working knowledge of Japanese.  I’m not fluent by any means, but I can “get by”.  Japanese resonates with the workings of my own engineering brain in that it is very structured, and rule based.  There is virtually no ambiguity in the language as compared to others (including English) that have silent letters, and rules seemingly made up on the fly.  So I like the language and am excited to have my children learn it with me.  (Selfishly, I really just want more people to practice Japanese with!)

I’ve been publishing articles on this website for years that have to do with early childhood development, second language learning for children, and tips for bilingual parenting, etc.  But with the new website upgrade, and the new additions to my family, I think it is time to get a bit more personal and start dispelling some of my own experiences as I raise these two wonderful children.  I will be teaching them as much as possible, but undoubtedly learning just as much from them as they learn from me.

I hope you will join me on this journey and I hope you can enjoy the articles and get something out of them.  I would love to have some discussions spark up in the comment section, so please leave your thoughts, comments and suggestions below this article.  I would love to hear about the linguistic goals you have for your family.

My Inspiration For Writing “Bosley Goes to the Beach”

Coast of Maine

After publishing “Bosley Sees the World”, I got so much good feedback on it that I knew I had to publish another book.  People wanted more of Bosley!

My wife and I were in the process of building a new house in Maine, when all of a sudden we got a phone call saying that the builder had put the foundation in the wrong place!!  This would set us back about 4 months which meant we needed to find a temporary place to live. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to live in a gorgeous rental house right on the ocean on the coast of Maine.  This was ideal for us, not only because it was a beautiful place to spend the winter, but also because my wife and I had discovered we were pregnant with twins and she would eventually have to spend the last few months of her pregnancy on bed-rest, and trust me, this was a great place to spend your day laying on the couch looking out the window.  We would watch the lobster men come and go, watch hundreds of birds play and catch fish, and of course, relax and take inspiration watching the tides roll in and out.

This was the place where “Bosley goes to the Beach” came to be.  The ocean has always been a special place for my wife and I, and I was so excited to see the story and illustrations come together like they did.  Of course, it was also a great inspiration and motivation to know that when the book was finished my wife and I would no longer be a family of two, but a family of four and that we would have two new incredible people to share the book with.  It’s funny to think that I didn’t even know what our children would look like when I was writing the book and now I’ve been able to read it to them.  And even though they’re just babies, they will often sit quietly and listen to the whole story while they gaze with their inquisitive baby eyes into the colorful pictures, all the while continually inspiring me to write more Bosley stories.

The Top 5 Best Choices for Second Language in Children

worldDeciding to raise your child speaking a first and a second language is a major parenting decision, but choosing which second language to teach him or her is another important one. Aside from cultural heritage, the personal preference of the parent, and popularity of the second language, which will have economic and social benefits in the future, there are many other factors that influence this choice. Thanks to books like The Adventures of Bosley Bear series that make language options available, parents can have an idea where to begin.

According to Ethnologue 17th edition, the top five most popular languages in the globe are Mandarin (Chinese), Spanish, English, Arabic and Hindi. There are approximately 1.92 Billion people in the world who speak Mandarin while there are only 406 Million for Spanish and 335 Million for English.

Mandarin (Chinese)

Imagine being conversational in Mandarin alone, you have the opportunity to exchange ideas with 882 Million people in the world! Although quite challenging to learn, much more to teach, this language does have the upside of having no grammatical rules on subject-verb agreements and tenses. Mandarin also has an exceptionally easy numbering system. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his book Outliers, this is the reason Chinese children are usually exceptional in Math. Besides being able to soak in the rich culture of China, learning Mandarin is a secret weapon to building business relations. Chinese entrepreneurs are more comfortable and more willing to discuss business, especially when it comes to discounts and long-term relationships, when the other party is fluent in their mother tongue.

Spanish

Perhaps because Dora the Explorer has become a household name, but Spanish is another language worth looking into. Back in 2007, The Pew Hispanic Center said that 22% of minors in the United States were Latin Americans. It undoubtedly has continued to grow. There are several career fields such as Healthcare and Education that are highly influenced by English-Spanish speakers. Several businesses in the US specifically target the needs of Spanish-speaking consumers as well as employ Spanish-speaking staff. In school, being an exploradora of the Spanish language can help children build deeper and more meaningful connections with their Spanish-speaking peers.

English

Of course, English is a major global language and the ESL industry is continuously booming. It is the most common language used to communicate cross-culturally. Foreigners who take English as a second language tend to experience an obvious and immediate career boost. It is the language of the Film Industry, and most of the important scientific or literary texts are in English or are translated into English for wider distribution. The system of the language has similarities with several other foreign languages as well, making it easier to acquire.

Arabic

According to Forbes.com, there was a 127% increase in the college enrollment for Arabic between 2002 and 2006 due to the very high demand. On their side of the world, Arabs are opening up countless lines of potential international business opportunities. Choosing to educate your child in Arabic is a very diplomatic decision as well. It gives your child the opportunity to build positive relations with the Arab community whether it would for trade purposes or cultural exchange purposes.

Hindi

There are is an endless list of wonderful things you can learn from Hindi culture from religion, architecture, old civilizations, Bollywood films and many others. Learning Hindi will help you find your way to the Taj Mahal if you ever decide to travel to the splendid country of India. The economic growth of the country is unstoppable and predictably, several of the future people of influence, within the generation of today’s children, will be Hindu-speaking.

The languages listed above are only the Top 5 most commonly spoken languages as of today. The 6th down to the 10th most commonly spoken ones are Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese and lastly Javanese. Other languages worth looking into are French and Italian.

Whichever language a parent chooses for their child, what is most important is to teach it with discipline and to impart to the child to respect and in some ways integrate the culture where that language is from. This may be a monumental task, but if we kept in mind what the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my universe”, then we can also keep in mind that the challenges of teaching will be far outweighed by the wonderful experiences the child will have in the entirety of his lifetime.