My 2 and a half year old doesn't seem to understand "what" questions (what did you do today? What did you eat?) a lot of the time - she just keeps replying "Si, si" every time I repeat my question. Same thing when my husband asks the question in French, and we're not sure what she does when the question is asked in Spanish.
If I ask her "what's that?", or even "what's that in English? (after she's said it in another language), she responds correctly, so on some level she must understand what it means.
Is this normal at this age? Or is it a multiple languages issue (or just her!)?
Each of those questions are quite different so it might not be that she's not understanding the ''what" but that she has to learn about each question separately. Also they're very open questions (ie there are many possible correct answers) so they're harder to answer than a closed question requiring a simple yes or no. Older children at school will often not reply to those questions or say "I don't know" or "nothing" because it feels like too much effort to remember or to construct an answer. As a primary teacher I've spoken to many anxious parents worried their child is not eating in school or bored and friendless because they're not answering those questions. One way to teach her this is to model it. You can use real situations where you know what she's done/eaten. You can also use toys/puppets. Play a game with them and then ask the toy/puppet what they did or ate and you put on a voice for them to answer. You can then ask your daughter the same question and see if she answers. If she doesn't give her a choice ie maybe she ate a banana and you can ask did you eat an orange or a banana. She's still very young so even monolingual children might not answer well at this stage but after lots of practice she should be able to learn.
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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9