It's great to find this forum and get some support with raising bilingual children. We live in England, my husband is English and I speak Finnish. My son is just over 2 years of age and he will be a big brother at the end of April. So our bilingual journey is only just starting slowly.
I have been wondering about how early to start insisting on the child responding in the same language as spoken to. My son turned 2 in October but is quite slow in picking up both languages. He is however just starting to speed up and shows interest in repeating words that others say. He has a lot of sounds and signs of his own invention that we as a family understand and up until now our main focus has been to respond to any of his attempts to communicate - however he chooses to communicate.
I am the main caregiver and speak the minority language, his father speaks the majority language when he’s around in the evenings and weekends and our common language is the majority language. So, until now I have been repeating whatever he says to me in his “own” language or majority language by using our minority language. Mostly he has only one word or sound or sign for any one object (and that is fairly equally so far divided between the majority, minority and his “own” language) and he is not using sentences in either language. Up until now for example he would say “car” when playing with his toy cars, and I would repeat back to him “auto” in our minority language. Or he would use a high pitched “ooohh” if something is big, and I would give him the word “iso” in our minority language for big. Up until now if I have asked him to say “auto” he would say: “car” and if I asked him to say “iso” he would say: “ooohh” and his answer would stay the same if his father asked him to say “big”. However I have now noticed he has about five objects that he can name correctly in both languages unprompted - a few times when playing with his cars and babbling his nonsensical baby talk he has spontaneously said “auto” as well as “car” - so, is it too early for me to “not understand” the majority language word such as “car” for those objects that I know he can say in both languages and coax him to always use the minority word “auto” instead of “car” when with me?
And how about his first attempts to name anything new?...colours are his big thing and he has been able to correctly point to the right colour when asked in either language for ages now - so he definitely knows his colours. But recently he seems to have deliberately chosen to learn to speak those colours in the majority language - this is his first group of words that he consistently seems to prefer to practice saying in a one chosen language whereas before for example animals or food items have been a mixture of majority, minority and his own sounds. However his pronounciation is way off the actual pronounciation of the colours in the majority language - (blue is “boo”, green is “gee”, yellow is “eeoo” etc). I’m wondering in those instances if I should model the correct pronounciation of the colour in the language he’s trying to say it, or should I just repeat it back in the minority language to communicate by using the minority language that I understand the meaning of what he is trying to say and confirm that he got the colour correct (even if he didn’t really pronounce it right).
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these dilemmas I have.
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Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Victor's flashcards look amazing! I hope I'll win the giveaway - if not, I'll purchase a set for Christmas for sure. Thanks Adam for sharing these gems with us!
Sept 26, 2018 23:32:30 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, I second Mayken's enthusiasm and gratitude for your posting about Victor's flashcards, they look amazing, thank you so much for the post! I already bought one set
Sept 30, 2018 10:25:51 GMT 9