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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Mayken: I'm wearing my language police hat today - when I realized the movie my daughter was watching on the phone was in ML I told her to stop. I later asked her dad to remove all ML content from the phone. Screentime is ml only!
Mar 27, 2018 23:00:03 GMT 9
Amy: Right you are Mayken!
Mar 28, 2018 1:43:20 GMT 9
Marisa: Way to go, Mayken! That's the (bilingual) spirit
Mar 29, 2018 0:55:54 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Will check out your podcast interview on my next run!
Mar 30, 2018 23:24:37 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter brought home her ml report card (she gets a separate one from the regular report card at her bilingual school), and it's straight A's! (Better than her marks in ML on the main report card.) I'm so proud!!!
Mar 31, 2018 6:10:44 GMT 9
Amy: Gratuliere (Congratulations) Mayken!!
Mar 31, 2018 16:54:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Thank you, Amy! As a reward, we allowed her to purchase a big item from her Christmas money--a Playmobil house, with which she now plays in ml!
Apr 4, 2018 3:37:31 GMT 9
Amy: Reward all the way round . Bilingual education can be a virtuous circle
Apr 4, 2018 5:26:18 GMT 9
Nellie: What great news, Mayken!
Apr 5, 2018 4:36:26 GMT 9
Raquel: I totally missed this. Congratulations, Mayken!! You have reason to be proud
Apr 10, 2018 20:08:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks everyone! Today my daughter helped a classmate finish her ml homework just before school - all in ml. (My daughter had finished hers the day before at home.)
Apr 11, 2018 3:58:56 GMT 9
Raquel: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Adam. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending you a big hug from Madrid.
Apr 12, 2018 18:16:38 GMT 9
Marie: I am sorry to hear about your mother Adam. Thinking of you and your family.
Apr 13, 2018 4:25:21 GMT 9
Jana: What a beautiful tribute you wrote to your mother. Sending condolences from the SF Bay Area!
Apr 14, 2018 5:34:03 GMT 9
Kristin T.: I enjoyed reading your post about your mother. Those were some amazing photos to cherish forever. I am sorry for your loss. I know it's ever the more painful having been an expat so long. Take care & be kind to yourself.
Apr 16, 2018 2:24:35 GMT 9
Nellie: I'm so sorry to read about your mother Adam. She sounds like an incredible woman. Your friends across the world are thinking of you and your family!
Apr 17, 2018 0:50:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Thank you, everyone, for your warm expressions of sympathy on the loss of my mother. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me at this challenging time.
Apr 17, 2018 7:44:14 GMT 9