An Introduction to “Discover English with Ben & Bella” and Immersive Learning

1.     How does “Discover English with Ben & Bella” work?
2.     How does immersive learning work?
3.     How does “Discover English with Ben & Bella” provide an immersive environment?
4.     Who provides Ben & Bella’s voices? What kind of English will children learn?
5.     How do parents or educators use “Discover English with Ben & Bella”?
6.     When will parents see the first results?
7.     But can parents and children use “Discover English with Ben & Bella” if they don’t already know English?
8.     How is “Discover English with Ben & Bella” Organized?

How does “Discover English with Ben & Bella” work?

“Discover English with Ben & Bella”, based on new scientific discoveries leading to the development of immersive learning, teaches children English through immersive learning. Immersive learning is the only way to learn a foreign language, the way you learn your mother tongue. With immersive learning, neither parent nor child needs prior knowledge of English.

How does immersive learning work?

“Immersion” means “diving in”. The entire environment in which children play is immersed in the foreign language. Children encounter the foreign language in a natural way – literally taking a bath in the language, soaking it up. This method is most successful and thoroughly researched learning and teaching method for foreign languages in the world. It is scientifically proven that a child learns more and acquires skills faster in the first three years of life, than at any point thereafter. The brain grows quickly. It receives new signals from the environment through all its sense organs, which must be correctly orientated. The learning process is constantly in motion. The more frequently stimuli are encountered, the better their influence on the child’s mind. The more they’re accompanied by positive experiences, the more successful the learning process is. Parents cannot influence the physical development of a child’s brain, but they can stimulate and promote mental development. Parents must be careful in this period to offer the right things at the right time, and not to overwhelm the child with distractions. The sooner one exposes a child to a foreign language, the better. They absorb the melody and accent of the foreign language. Children will soak up the foreign language like a sponge. If they already know a few English words by the time they enter pre-school or kindergarten, their self-confidence will be strengthened. They will have connected a great experience of success with the English language and will more easily begin to build up their vocabulary.

How does “ Discover English with Ben & Bella” provide an immersive environment?

“Discover English with Ben & Bella” is an integrated program of DVDs, CDs, books and activities providing animated cartoons, live-action song and dance videos, sing-a-longs, stories and games. It follows the saying: One builds a tower with bricks; a language with words. In their first years children learn their mother tongue by connecting the things they see with words their mother say. Mothers instinctively repeat the names of things several times. If, for example, a mother gives her child a ball to play with, she says, “Look, a ball! Here is a ball!” If the mother doesn’t want the child to forget what she says, then she says it loudly and repeatedly. She says it with emphasis: “Be careful, hot! The oven is hot!”

The animated videos of “Discover English with Ben & Bella” follow this principle exactly. The English words spoken when the associated objects are shown, and then repeated. For example, Bella says “Look Ben, A Cow! A Cow!” At that moment you see a brown cartoon of a cow on the screen. The same principle applies in the scenes in which the children dance. The lyrics match the actions, making meaningful connections with the new language. And so after a while the children automatically sing the English words and understand their meaning. In addition, the children are immersed in a completely new world, in which everything takes place in English. They take a language bath, and have a lot of fun, which only increases their success learning the language. This is what immersive learning is all about.

To see, hear and sing the English language, as well as to play, paint and dance – so that all senses are engaged and children have fun. Each child can discover English like its mother tongue with this multi-facetted product. They learn through play with the product, by repeating the words, singing and dancing. This learning environment is enhanced by the accompanying activity and sticker books. The additional activities and puzzles keep children involved in Ben & Bella’s world even when they aren’t watching or singing along, and you will be able to play along, quizzing your child on the English names of the characters and objects depicted.  It doesn’t matter if parents do not know English themselves, they can just point to something on the page or in the puzzle and ask their children to name it. By playing along (or watching, or even singing along) with their children, they can dramatically deepen the immersive experience and make the program even more effective. And they might learn English, too.

Who provides Ben & Bella’s voices? What kind of English will children learn?

Native speakers, both British and American, voice all the animated characters in ‘Discover English with Ben & Bella”. Thus, some expressions, like “to dance” are said in both “British English” and in “American English”. In this case, “to dance” with British [a:] and American [ae] for “a”. This is intentional, because children should encounter English as they will in later life and in all levels of schooling – that is, in both versions, with different accents or even vocabulary.

How do parents or educators use “Discover English with Ben & Bella”?

Every day, a little deeper with “Discover English with Ben & Bella”. The ever-present natural urge of children to learn, will make them want to discover a new little piece of Ben & Bella’s world each day. They will grow into the product, shift their points of interest, and so continually discover something new. In this way “Discover English with Ben & Bella” will remain a beloved plaything for months, which just incidentally imparts a foreign language.

Children will encounter English informally with Ben & Bella, two friendly, likeable cartoon characters having exciting adventures. Children will understand them immediately because of the simple, logical structure of the stories and engage with them as they would with characters  speaking their native tongue. They will begin to discover the language and will want to discover more. The funny and exciting adventures of the characters, Ben & Bella, are about everyday, easy-to-understand topics for children, like going shopping, visiting zoo, the farm, the circus, etc. In addition, children like to learn from other children and they’ll quickly begin to imitate the singing and dancing children in the sing-along scenes. And anyone who has sung and danced along once, always wants to do it again. “Discover English with Ben & Bella” provides enough content to keep children engaged and learning for up to ten months and, with approximately 750 words, a vocabulary equivalent to a child’s mother tongue.

When will parents see the first results?

Results are immediately apparent. Most children are so enchanted by the singing and dancing that they immediately try to play along. First children will try to follow the dance steps and to hum along or sound out the vowels. After repeated listening, their vocabulary will automatically increase as they learn the connection between the movements and lyrics. The more often they follow the sound and rhythm of the sounds, the more they will, step by step, learn the new language, accent-free.

But can parents and children use “Discover English with Ben & Bella” if they don’t know English?

‘Discover English with Ben & Bella” makes it possible for children to learn English independently through their natural desire to learn and play, without any prior exposure and without knowing how to read. Nor do parents need to know English in order to support their child’s language acquisition. The music, videos, picture books and activities are all designed to be self-explanatory in the way children’s other playthings are – they do not need to know what they mean in order to want to play with them, and once they play with them, they will understand them – and English.

How is “Discover English with Ben & Bella” organized?

Every child is different, and no two like to learn or play alike. That’s why we designed “Discover English with Ben & Bella” to be as flexible as possible. Regardless of parents’ or children’s interests or schedules, there is a way to approach Ben & Bella. As you can see, we’ve made every effort to keep “Discover English with Ben & Bella” as open-ended and flexible as possible. There’s no wrong way to approach it!