"How did I ever get into this mess?"
It's another wild and wacky day in the life of Noah, a nine-year-old boy living in a world where just about no one understands him.
Noah is visiting his grandmother. Where she lives no one speaks English. He’s trying to learn Spanish, but sometimes he gets it wrong…and that’s when the trouble starts.
But somehow Noah always manages to solve the problems he’s created, learning Spanish in the process. Kids laugh and learn along with him.
Oh Noah!, (formerly known as Noah Comprende) is designed to teach Spanish to children ages six to eight through animated videos with embedded games that help build vocabulary. In each three-minute video, a misunderstanding launches a comic misadventure. Kids learn language better when they can put it into meaningful context. Although – like Noah – they may not understand all the Spanish dialogue, kids can comprehend the story told through rich visual storytelling, much like a silent movie.
Each video features opportunities for kids to roll their cursor over objects on the screen to hear the Spanish translation. Three different vocabulary-driven, arcade-style games reinforce learning. Leveling and racing against the clock encourage replayability and repeated exposure to vocabulary. Another game on the website, How Do You Say…?, helps kids learn common expressions in Spanish.
The Center for Applied Linguistics confirms that learning a second language at an early age:
- Has a positive effect on intellectual growth.
- Enriches and enhances a child's mental development.
- Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
- Improves a child's understanding of his or her native language.
- Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.
Oh Noah! introduces kids to collections of vocabulary words that are accessible and of interest to this age group. They include:
- Playground equipment
The webisodes also teach chunks of language - common phrases like, "Please may I have" or "I don't understand" - that can give kids a leg up on learning a new language. Phrases like this are sprinkled throughout Oh Noah!, and the visuals provide the context needed for viewers to understand what's going on, allowing them to make sense of the language.
In addition to language instruction, Oh Noah! models behavior that encourages development of:
- Curiosity and imagination
- Good citizenship
Changing demographics in the United States make clear the importance of learning Spanish. According to the 2007 American Community Survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people age five or older. In fact, the United States is the world's second largest Spanish-speaking country, second only to Mexico.