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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Wojtek: Adam, will you be watching in a few hours the football match between our national teams?
Jun 28, 2018 20:27:10 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy birthday to two bilingual monkeys: Adam Beck's daughter Lulu (14) and mine (8).🎂
Jun 29, 2018 23:10:16 GMT 9
Amy: Happy birthday to your 2 bilingual monkeys Mayken and Adam Beck !
Jun 30, 2018 5:15:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, that's true, but in our case, the U.S. didn't make it to the World Cup this time! Japan has gone through, but they'll probably get knocked out very soon...
Jun 30, 2018 7:22:16 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, Poland won! I was disappointed, though, to see Japan hold the ball at the end of the game because they only wanted to go through to the next round. I understand why they did that but I wish they had played harder...
Jun 30, 2018 7:24:42 GMT 9
Wojtek: Well, it suited both teams to slow down the ball. However, it was really unexpected and peculiar
Jul 1, 2018 1:16:27 GMT 9
Mayken: On the train from Cologne to my hometown, I saw a boy about 9/10 and his older sister. She was fluent in German but spoke French with a slight accent, he spoke only French. They were visiting their grandparents. I was intrigued but didn't ask.
Jul 1, 2018 22:06:55 GMT 9
Wojtek: Does anyone know an online English speech language therapist? I thought that it could be a good idea to get my girl evaluated in her ml...
Jul 6, 2018 4:02:38 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! My 8-year-old daughter passed her ml swim test today! After swimming & diving, the pool attendant asked her to recite the swimming/safety rules (our recent captive reading), and she knew them all!
Jul 6, 2018 21:28:23 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Bilingual Lives: Ana Cristina Gluck, Author and Publisher of Multilingual Books for Children (with a Book Giveaway!) buff.ly/2ziSQ4J
Jul 7, 2018 11:28:32 GMT 9
Agnese: First words. What to expect? My son is 10 months old. He's still babbling, but I've noticed some different sounds depending on the situation. I wonder if he'll start saying his first words in the next weeks (or months, who knows?). What should I expect?
Jul 11, 2018 0:30:24 GMT 9
Amy: Don't expect anything Agnese. Just let it happen, and then what he says will hit you like a train. It's an amazing moment. Just live it and don't overthink it. Whatever he says, in whatever language it is, it is a magical moment.
Jul 11, 2018 5:11:14 GMT 9
Agnese: I've recently found a further (annoying) challenge: when I speak ml (Italian) to my child (10m) in front of ML acquaintances, they are making jokes about what I said (mostly accent, similar unrelated words...). What do you think is the best way to act?
Jul 15, 2018 13:04:11 GMT 9
Amy: Agnese, it is simply because they never had the opportunity to be acquainted so closely to that language. Just smile and keep going. Over time (even if this may seem long), the comments will fade. Don't show your son you are embarrassed by your ml.
Jul 16, 2018 3:56:41 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Agnese, I strongly second Amy's advice! Stay strong and continue speaking Italian!
Jul 18, 2018 6:22:37 GMT 9
Adam Beck: And Agnese, keep in mind that, above all, the highest priority is your bilingual aim, not the other passing concerns that are part of this experience (for us all). Don't let these distract you from the greater goal.
Jul 18, 2018 6:24:49 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you! After this setback I feel stronger than ever! The same day of the incident I ordered plenty of books in the ml on Amazon and I'm reading every day new research on bilingualism and bilingual education. I'm ready to defend my goal! Thanks
Jul 19, 2018 18:37:58 GMT 9