Oh Noah!, the fun and funny PBS KIDS GO! web series (formerly known as Noah Comprende), is rolling out a line-up of new animated interactive videos and games that introduce kids to Spanish. Games embedded in the videos, together with other interactive challenges and adventures on the website, provide children ages six to eight with an engaging introduction to Spanish vocabulary and common phrases.
The videos star nine-year-old Noah, who is staying with his grandmother in a community where everyone speaks Spanish. A series of misunderstandings launch comic misadventures for Noah, as he tries to communicate with others who don’t speak English. In Noah’s new adventures, language misunderstandings take him to the Arctic in a madcap search for a mama polar bear, to a dude ranch, where he lands on the back of a bucking bronco, and to the circus, where he finds himself part of a daring trapeze act. Somehow Noah always manages to solve the problems he’s created, learning Spanish in the process. Kids and their parents laugh and learn along with him.
“A goal of Oh Noah! is to help young children benefit from learning more than one language at an early age,” says Mariana Swick, bilingual educator and advisor to Oh Noah!. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, the benefits include improving a child’s understanding of his or her native language, having a positive effect on intellectual growth, enriching and enhancing a child’s mental development, and promoting more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
The bilingual dialogue of Oh Noah! introduces Spanish to English speakers and also offers English language learning support to Spanish speakers. Changing demographics in the United States make clear the importance of learning Spanish. According to the 2009 United States Census, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 48.4 million people age five or older. The United States is the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking community, second only to Mexico.