Comforting character makes second-language mistakes no big deal
What's It Like?
Oh Noah! is a PBS-based website that offers students a multi-pronged approach to learning Spanish vocab. With its funny, story-based interface, kids are encouraged to take an easygoing, just-try-it approach to learning languages. Students who are learning Spanish, as well as Spanish speakers who are learning English (perfect for a multilingual classroom), could benefit.
The site is organized into four main categories: videos, games, activities (that include printables), and characters. Kids are introduced to Spanish vocabulary in the context of whatever Noah is experiencing in his entertaining mini-stories. Stories are told in three-minute, PBS-quality videos. As videos play, kids can move their cursors over objects on the screen to hear the Spanish translations. For example, roll over the word Games on the main menu and the word Juegos appears. You'll find six main games –- mostly focused on reinforcing Spanish vocabulary –- and even more games embedded in the videos and games specific to webisode story lines.
Is It Good for Learning?
So much of learning a new language is trial and error and being willing to look a little silly. This is true of 9-year-old Noah. Short videos humorously show that his attempts at learning Spanish aren't always perfect. When Noah (who’s visiting his grandma in a town where most people speak Spanish) uses the wrong word or misunderstands something someone else says or conveys by gesture, kids watch as his newbie blunder creates a misadventure. The mistakes-allowed tone teaches kids that learning a language requires curiosity and confidence, but not perfection. Related games on the site help students practice Spanish vocabulary words and phrases and do other activities.
How Can Teachers Use It?
You can find suggested offline activities to support learning in a section specifically created for teachers via the link to PBS Teachers. Classroom options include lesson plans, webisode descriptions, and more.
Help students practice some of the vocab that Noah learns by planting the same objects in class or introducing students to similar experiences in school. Each time students come across the objects, ask students to name them. You could also reinforce the idea that it's okay to make mistakes in other contexts as students play, work, and communicate.