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#1 of 40 Old 06-10-2006, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are raising our 23-month old bilingual French/English. I'm the English speaker, my husband the French speaker (It's his native language). We are both fluent in both languages.

We have been told ds will not speak until about 3. And, so far, that must be about right. About the only word he says voluntarily is yes, and that he pronounces "es." He has just started to say Ma on occasion this week. (Not Mama, but Ma.) He will point to me when he says it. He will repeat a few words, or some form of them, after someone. I believe he is frustrated because he is exhibiting biting and hitting, which I understand are some behaviors of nonverbal toddlers. We have come so far and he clearly understands both languages even though he doesn't speak. We hate to turn back and just start speaking one, which would most likely be English. I am a SAHM, so he is mostly with just my husband and me.

Does anyone who has been there have suggestions or encouragement?
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#2 of 40 Old 06-10-2006, 10:10 PM
 
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Our ds will be trilingual-English, Spanish (dh's native lang) and Polish (my family's native lang). I too have heard & read that speech is usually a bit delayed for multi-lingual children and am a SAHM with my ds. We have an additional issue with ds having a cleft soft palate, so that combined with his hearing 3 languages may be the reason that he only says "bye bye" and "ma ma" at 14 mos.

The only thing that I can really do is just keep annunciating words so that ds can hear them clearly and hopefully say them. Maybe you can teach him some key signs that might help him communicate, but I wouldn't go down to one language-it is so beneficial to anyone to have a second language. I see it with my sdd-she speaks English, French & Spanish and is in the best schools back in Mexico to keep nurturing her love of learning.

Good luck mama, and remember that this shall pass but you are giving your ds such an amazing base of knowledge.
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#3 of 40 Old 06-10-2006, 10:13 PM
 
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Hang in there, my dh and I are raising our ds to speak spanish/english and I know it can be frustrating. He also is a late speaker, I think because he is trying to decide which language to speak. But trust me in a few years you will glad you taught your dc both languages, their brains are like little sponges absorbing everything, so even if he's having a hard time now, as long as you can get what he's saying. I would continue with both languages.
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#4 of 40 Old 06-10-2006, 10:15 PM
 
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Well, we are not a bilingual family, but we are English speakers who are semi-fluent in French, living in a mostly francophone city. We have lots of friends with kids who are bilingual (or trilingual). I know that kids who are exposed to 2 languages from early on often do take longer to speak, but I think 3 may be a bit late? At least to not say anything. The children that I know all started speaking before the 2nd birthday (as far as I know).

That said - your son is only 23 months old. If I were you I wouldn't worry about where he's at now. I think it would be a mistake to give up speaking French with him. I think it is so wonderful for children to grow up with effortless bilinguality - especially as I struggle so hard with my 2nd language (learned as an adult). I strongly encourage you to continue speaking both languages with him. Though if you are worried about his language development don't hesitate to speak to your ped about it. If speech therapy is needed it's better to start sooner than later.

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#5 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 12:56 AM
 
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I live in Mexico and am my daughter's only English input. She understands both (25 mos now) but produces less than monolingual kids her age. Sometimes I hear or hear about a child her age who is telling whole stories with long sentences...*sigh* because a part of me worries she's not where she "should" be but that's not true--she's not delayed at all, she's just not super-advanced like those kids are or like she is in other areas.

So I hear ya. We do signs as well, which has helped a LOT! She definitely makes her needs known, to her parents and complete strangers, and that is the key, methinks. Can she interact satisfactorily, considering her developmental stage? If so, then worry not.
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#6 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 01:16 AM
 
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I clicked on this thread because for some reason my MIL and I were talking about this just this past weekend. She is an expert in child development, was a elementary school teacher, a principal for about 10 years, and is currently an english professor and she really knows her stuff.

She was saying how it's sad that so many bi and trilingual kids get put into special classes when they are in school and then eventually get labeled as slow. She said those kids were always behind in the first few grades BUT she said if she was able to convince "them" from placing labels on the kids such as learning disabled and such that they always turned out much smarter than the average child but they just needed time to get there. She said they were usually late talkers, sometimes as old as 5-6 years old to speaking clearly. She said that was completely normal and to be expected and she also definitely seemed to think it was a very good idea for a child to learn several languages even if it did make them "behind" for a short time.

She also said that research shows that when an infant is born they are a blank slate when it comes to speech. However after the 5th to 6th year of life their mouths have actually developed in a way that supports whatever language they speak. She said that's why adults have such a hard time learning other languages and being able to pronouce them.

I just thought that was interesting.

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#7 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 01:21 AM
 
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we're a 'bilingual' family in that my husband and i speak spanish, and that's what we speak at home and have been teaching ds (even though we live in the states, so he does hear english). he's starting daycare in a month, and there it will be 90% english, so we think he'll slow down for a while. i wouldn't worry about your dc, it does take longer and he will mix things up once he starts speaking, but eventually they figure it out.

i highly recommend using baby signs, they're very easy to learn and will help him with language development, and with his frustration right now. we have been using them since ds was about 6-8 months old, and he still uses them and learns new ones even though he's learning about 2-3 words a day right now (the last month has been a big jump in terms of language). he's heard mostly spanish so far though, so i'm not sure he counts as 'bilingual' just yet. we'll see next month what happens.

again, don't worry, he sounds fine. my nephews all went through this and they're all bilingual. and do try the baby signs, it will make everything much easier. good luck!
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#8 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 01:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelsi

She also said that research shows that when an infant is born they are a blank slate when it comes to speech. However after the 5th to 6th year of life their mouths have actually developed in a way that supports whatever language they speak. She said that's why adults have such a hard time learning other languages and being able to pronouce them.

I just thought that was interesting.
i wanted to add to this. the way language acquisition works is that infants are born with the capacity to speak any language. the way they 'learn' a particular language is by repeating/imitating the sounds they hear, and thus 'forgetting' or losing the capacity to make other sounds. rather than a blank slate, think of it as being all languages at once. For adults it's harder because they have never 'trained' their mouths, etc. to make certain movements/noises, and also it's a question of how well they can 'hear' those other noises in order to be able to imitate them. growing up bilingual even has an effect on the way your brain develops its language pathways, which is why it becomes easier (usually) to learn more languages. you may even want to read up on some of these things, since it may help in terms of understanding the process for your dc (and it's really interesting stuff) and explaining it to any potential teacher who may not be as clued in.
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#9 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 02:48 AM
 
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We are raising our daughter bi-lingually also. She is 2.7 and currently her English is much stronger than her Japanese. We live in Japan so that will all change once she starts pre-school next April. Yes she is not as fluent in English as the kids around her who only know one language, but being bi-lingual is such a wonderful gift. I have worked HARD to learn Japanese and still have a long way to go. Don`t listen to negative influences and don`t give up, it takes time but is so worth it in the end.
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#10 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 04:10 AM
 
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We are living in France and are raising the children with three languages - English, Arabic and French, dd who will be 4 in August is fluent in english although some pronunciation isn't good, getting there in french and not so good with the arabic! Arabic is so different to any 'european' language that I think it'll take a good wee bit more for it to become a fluent language, we were doing italian as well but thought that it's just a bit too confusing having four languages. Keep up the languages you'll regret it later on if you don't.

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#11 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 09:50 AM
 
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We are a bilingual family, although the situation is different as I can't really speak DH's language (cantonese...I'm working on it) and since DS is with me so much more, he has far more exposure to English. He can speak about 10 words/phrases in Cantonese, but I can't count the words/phrases in English anymore. He's a parrot

While I think all kids are different, not speaking at all until 3 sounds very late to me. However, with a truly bilingual child (which yours is...mine isn't YET), I would expect a delay and I probably wouldn't worry at 23 months. You might be surprised at a sudden explosion soon and being bilingual is so worth it!

We did babysigns too and I second (or third or forth ) that reccommendation. DS still uses the signs now and he can say most of the words

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#12 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 10:11 AM
 
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totally normal. my best friend was raised spanish/english and her big comment about it was: don't worry if your kid doesn't start speaking until late! bilingual kids are usually late bloomers and take a while to speak in sentences. her and her cousins all spoke very late.

we are doing spanish/english with my son. dp and i speak to him in spanish, we live in an english-speaking area of the US, so he hears english from everyone else. he's 12 months and says gata, teta, agua, hi, up, down.

raising my two sunshine children.

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#13 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 10:14 AM
 
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we're raising her trilingual - german (dh), english (me), japanese (residence). She's 22 months now and understands the same amount of german and english. She understands a bit less japanese. She can say most words in German, lots in English, and quite a bit in japanese. She understands that she is speaking differently with mama and papa. She knows to say "please" to mama and "bitte" to papa - the japanese word is too long so she just signs that for now! If we see something that she knows how to say in both languages here is how the conversation goes - her: Watch! (pointing to my wrist) me: yes, that's my watch. her: Papa! Uhr! (the german word for it) It's like she is making sure that *I* know how to say it in the other language too...

I've very interested to see how things progress. I think consistency is very important. And I hope we stay in japan long enough for her not to lose the japanese. If we leave now, she would definitely forget it since neither of us speak it well enough to reinforce it.
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#14 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 10:32 AM
 
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Hi! Not a mother but my family is a mess of languages And I really wouldn't worry about your child yet.

I don't have much time now, but I just asked my mother when we started talking and she said I started "too early" (around 1yo), but my two brothers started saying words at around 1,5 y.o. (both grew up with contact to at least 2 languages).

It is normal for multi-lingual children to start talking later, but then they do catch up. And I also think it's usual that they don't say much first, but then start talking very fast. 3 sounds too old to me though.

I'd like to add this though (important for later, when your dc is older): We know other families with bilingual kids, and most of them speak the country's language much better than the other laguage, especially after they started kindergarten. Then the children start wanting to talk the country's language at home too, and some of the mothers will talk back in in the same language.
In our house we (my mother, my older brother and I) insist that M talks in our mother tongue with us when he starts talking the country's language, we correct him when he says something wrong (he makes some grammar mistakes), try to give him the right word when he doesn't know how to say something in our mother tongue, etc.

HTH. I do have a neurology/psychiatry magazinne somewhere with an article about multi-lingual children. I'll read it on my way to meeting my friends and when I'm back I'll post a summary.

And sign language sounds like a very good idea to me!
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#15 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 02:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraphic Queen
We are raising our 23-month old bilingual French/English. I'm the English speaker, my husband the French speaker (It's his native language). We are both fluent in both languages.

We have been told ds will not speak until about 3. And, so far, that must be about right. About the only word he says voluntarily is yes, and that he pronounces "es." He has just started to say Ma on occasion this week. (Not Mama, but Ma.) He will point to me when he says it. He will repeat a few words, or some form of them, after someone. I believe he is frustrated because he is exhibiting biting and hitting, which I understand are some behaviors of nonverbal toddlers. We have come so far and he clearly understands both languages even though he doesn't speak. We hate to turn back and just start speaking one, which would most likely be English. I am a SAHM, so he is mostly with just my husband and me.

Does anyone who has been there have suggestions or encouragement?
Who told you it would be about 3? It seems to me that kids don't really learn at an even rate, they tend to do things in spurts. It's entirely possible that at 23 months your child may not be saying much, but then at say 28 months he starts spitting out phrases. My dd is pretty verbal at home(just single words though, she's 23 months too, and is being raised bilingual vietnamese-english), but if she goes out, she totally clams up, and I think it's because she's not sure about what to say to whom.
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#16 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 03:40 PM
 
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Just one more advocate for baby signs...

We are raising DS bilingual Spanish/English. I've been told that DS will be slow to start talking, but I have to say that living in a bilingual household hasn't slowed down his signing at all. DS is 13 1/2 months and, at this point, he uses about 25 signs...

I'm really amazed by how signing has allowed DS to start understanding the relationship between the two languages he hears. Whether we say "Where is it?" or "Donde esta?", he uses the same standard baby sign. Even if he doesn't speak until he's 3, I will always believe signing has helped him internalize both languages.

I would imagine it wouldn't take long at all for a 23 month-old to catch on to some really useful signs... This could greatly ease his frustration in the interval while he's still figuring out spoken communication.
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#17 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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Heyla mama!

I speak English with dd, my DH speakes in French, and we both use ASL with dd. DD actually talks a lot for her age, but it's almost entirely in English with ASL coming in second and French a distant third. Which isn't surprising since DH is the only one consistently using French with her, but she gets English all over the place and ASL from several other people.

For now I'm not worried...I know she'll "catch up" with French as her exposure increases, and she is certainly able to get her meaning across using English or ASL.

I was participating in a language study a few weeks ago (actually a study of how hearing infants learn/use ASL) and the researcher mentioned that "somewhere around 40 words the whole thing starts snowballing"...meaning that it can take a while to reach 40 words, but once their vocab (in any language) hits that general number they start learning and using the language at a much faster rate. So don't think your little one wont talk till 3years! There's no way to know how quickly (or when) they'll start that language explosion!

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#18 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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Hi!

Our daughter is learning English from me (and some American Sign Language) and French with Papa. I had been told she might speak later but of course I was surprised to see it was true (she's been quick for most things). She's almost 18 months and hardly says mama and papa and Andre (her brother). Even with sign language she only just recently started to really pick up. She's just not interested or ready to use it all yet but I can tell she is processing and understanding TONS in all 3 languages!

The American sign language signs helped a lot, at least they helped me remain patient and not too much in a hurry for her to speak...

With my son, I gave up trying English with him because he didn't seem interested at all...but then a year after I had stopped English, he sais a few words and understood a few phrases! All from way back when I was using English with him! Since then (he was about 2 or 3) I have been actively "teaching " (sharing) English with him, with games, activities, etc. but I do wish I had continued at the time.

It takes a LONG time for all of the language capacities to show up but I have not yet heard anything that would make me think it could be a bad idea to use two or more languages with children, quite the opposite! It's always a good thing!

Have fun!
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#19 of 40 Old 06-11-2006, 06:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Isabel
I do have a neurology/psychiatry magazinne somewhere with an article about multi-lingual children. I'll read it on my way to meeting my friends and when I'm back I'll post a summary.
Ok, it was just an interview. It basically said that learning more than one language as a babe is good for children for a variety of reasons. Didn't say anything about when children should start doing what.
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#20 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 09:11 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Seraphic Queen]We are raising our 23-month old bilingual French/English. ... We have been told ds will not speak until about 3. ... I believe he is frustrated because he is exhibiting biting and hitting, which I understand are some behaviors of nonverbal toddlers. We have come so far and he clearly understands both languages even though he doesn't speak. QUOTE]

We are raising our son bilingual in Russian (my husband's family) and English (everyone else). He is 2.5 yrs now, and he is very verbal with good vocabulary in both languages.

No one else seems to have commented on this, but the biting and hitting are things you definitely want to watch. Now, our son went through a phase like that around the same age, and I think it is pretty normal, but I watched carefully to see if there were obvious triggers to that behavior, because, of course, it wasn't acceptable! I do believe that my son was acting out partly because of verbal frustration, and the behavior calmed down noticeably when I tried to verbalize for him what I thought was upsetting him. (Paying that extra attention to him in those moments couldn't have hurt either!)

Our son went from speaking only 2 words to saying over 30 in English (and about the same number in Russian) over the course of one week. It's like he was taking it all in for all those months, then, POW! He figured it out. I think he was about 18 months old at that time--but that was quite late on both sides of our family.

If you are concerned, then I suggest talking with your pediatrician. If everything seems fine in every other way developmentally, then he is probably just taking his time.

I know an English-only child who didn't speak a word until she was almost 3, and she ended up speaking entire sentences from the beginning. Then again, there are certainly kids who benefit from early speech therapies.
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#21 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 09:15 AM
 
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Bilingual family here too (English and Italian)...I think it sounds totally normal, I wouldn't worry about it.

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#22 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 09:53 AM
 
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Very interesting reading a lot of these posts. Our son is bilingual in Spanish/English though he speaks more English because I am with him more than his daddy. But he understands Spanish perfectly and will speak it in certain settings (like when we were at a tapas restaurant). We have always read to him in Spanish as much as in English, and we travel to Costa Rica. I thought for awhile that his language might be delayed because up until 21 months he only spoke a couple words. But at 22 months the flood gates opened and he spoke full sentences. What amazes me most is that he knows which language he can speak with which people.

I highly recommend teaching a few basic signs to toddlers so they can communicate a bit and lessen their frustration. Can you imagine having all your thoughts buzzing in your head and not being able to speak? Aargh!

Question: Do people in Europe, whose children all generally grow up bilingual/trilingual/plus spend as much time worrying about this as Americans seem to? I can't believe how many people here think you will harm your child's verbal skills and confuse them if you try to raise them bilingual.

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#23 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 03:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by straighthaircurly
Question: Do people in Europe, whose children all generally grow up bilingual/trilingual/plus spend as much time worrying about this as Americans seem to? I can't believe how many people here think you will harm your child's verbal skills and confuse them if you try to raise them bilingual.
Most children don't grow up multi-lingual in Europe, but I think the EU politicians have plans/hopes for every european to talk at least 2 - 3 languages. In my experience only kids from international families grow multi-lingual.

But to answer your question, in my experience learning languages is very encouraged at least in the parts of Europe where I've lived.
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#24 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 03:27 PM
 
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we're bilingual! I am both chilean and american, and my dh is chilean. We're both fluent in both and we speak only spanish at home between dh and I. The kids know both but dd doesn't like spanish too much because she was in daycare for a while so all the spanish she learned in the first year of her life, when we lived in chile, went out the window, although I try so hard with her. I tivo Dora in spanish every saturday and sunday, so if they wanna watch TV it has to be in spanish. We play spanish music, videos, we do activities with spanish flashcards. Storytime is also in spanish. My son, Vicente, speak mostly spanish, except for the words he catches from his sister. He's 27 months and he says: pecho (breast) mami (to me) papi (to dh) auto (car) casa (home) moco (booger- i know ) caca (poop) zapatos (shoes) tuto (sleep) hola and chao. He says a few words in english too who would have thought that my dd, who was born in chile, would speak less spanish than ds who was born here.
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#25 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 04:09 PM
 
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Like SomedayMom we are in a "unequal" family when it comes to language exposure. We live in the US, dh is American, I am Romanian. dh understands some Romanian but we are not speaking it at home. I speak to my son some Romanian but we speak English predominantly.

ds is very verbal and spoke early (is now 21 months and makes several sentence words -- in English). This basically shows I am not doing such a great job with teaching him Romanian. He knows clusters of things, such as counting, face parts, some colors, some other nouns. But by no means does his Romanian vocabulary compare to his English one.

Some of my friends raise their children tri-lingual (Romanian and German at home -- 1 parent each -- and English from societal exposure. Their son didn't say a word until 3, but now he speaks all 3 languages.

Good luck!
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#26 of 40 Old 06-14-2006, 04:12 PM
 
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My DS is 20 months and says "bye-bye" "hi" "ball" "Vow-vow (dog, but it means any animal really)", "me-me (mine, give me x thing I am pointing at, or give me more of what I have)" That's it. I speak english, my husband speaks english or danish to him, and he gets danish all day in nursery school. So yes, he is behind. But he is developing in all other areas, he is learning new things daily, and he has a lot of joy in all things and people. I would say as long as your babe is developing, I wouldn't worry.

Another thing to think about, regardless of languages, is personality. My husband is a very, very quiet type. So maybe DS just doesn't feel the need to speak as much as other kids.

And a tip: My Danish isn't perfect, so for a long time I spoke a lot of "Danglish" - that is a mix of english and danish together. I think that was a big mistake. All he will learn from that is poor speach. So I made a strong effort to speak clearly, and for me that means english.

I noticed that he seemed frustrated specifically with me when he couldn't understand what I was saying to him, or couldn't communicate with me what his needs are. I think he still is frustrated sometimes, because his brain, his wants and desires are in line with the average 20 month old, but his speach is maybe in line with the average 1 year old. It must be frustrating. But he will catch up, and your babe will too.
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#27 of 40 Old 06-15-2006, 09:01 AM
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I gotta run, so I can't say much. But I'd encourage you to keep both languages going, and perhaps even add sign language while you're at it! LOL! I'll explain more later. But personally, I'm teaching my DD English and Sign Language together, and Spanish part-time.

Boys speak later than many girls anyway. Don't fret!

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#28 of 40 Old 06-15-2006, 10:48 AM
 
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Keep speaking both languages.

We are a bilangual family as well. My husband is American and I am German. We are raising our two kids, girl 21 months and boy 3 1/2 years, bilangual as well. Our son only said a few words when a lot of other kids were already talking in whole sentences. It was frustrating, but luckily I had heard that kids who are raised bilangual often are slower to learn to speak at the beginning, but by age 5 or 6 they have caught up to their peers - only then they speak two languages fluently and not just one

Anyhow, we had the same issues with our son: because he couldn't express himself so well he got very frustrated and had many tantrums. But by the time he was 2 1/2 years his language skills improved significantly. It wasn't anything we did. I guess something in his brain just clicked. And it makes sense that it's tougher at the beginning for bilangual kids: their brains have to deal with two languages instead of just one - that's a lot more information to process.

Our problem right now is that our son understands both languages equally well but prefers to speak only German. I think that's also because my husband doesn't take the time to talk to our kids so much. I know my son is going to catch up with English eventually. To give him a little boost I am sendig him to an in-home pre-school one morning each week.

We are strict followers of the "one-parent, one-language" rule, i.e. each parent speaks his/her native language and doesn't switch back and forth between the languages. I read only in German to my kids and they have German videos to watch.

I would encourage you both to continue speaking your first language with your son. It will take him a little longer to start speaking, but when he does he will know two languages. What a benefit in today's global world. Not to mention the fact that then he will be able to communicate with his relatives back in France.

Good Luck to your family!
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#29 of 40 Old 06-15-2006, 01:58 PM
 
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I came out of a lousy school district, so I was never able to pick up a second language. I know some ASL but that is because I have Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), and need it to sometime communicate with my DH and now my twins...a real God-send!

However I want my children to learn French, but we are very anti-TV/video and there are no classes in my area.

What's a mum to do??

The only two words they know is, 'oui,' and 'au revoir'

Waldorf mama to 5yo b/g twins
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#30 of 40 Old 06-15-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medeanj
I came out of a lousy school district, so I was never able to pick up a second language. I know some ASL but that is because I have Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), and need it to sometime communicate with my DH and now my twins...a real God-send!

However I want my children to learn French, but we are very anti-TV/video and there are no classes in my area.

What's a mum to do??

The only two words they know is, 'oui,' and 'au revoir'
you could put an ad in the paper and see if you can find a french-speaking mother's helper to come over and talk only in french to your kids. if they're old enough, they can do games in french on the computer. you can get tapes to listen to in the car (plus, you'd pick up some french that way and could use it with them around the house later). you could take a class in french at the local community college and then teach them.

raising my two sunshine children.

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