do bilingual children really speak late? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my daughter is only 12 months old. she already says various words, although their meanings are semi-variable. (for example "anna" once just our cat named anna she now uses to describe ALL animals) i speak in english exclusively to her. i live with my parents who speak spanish exclusively to her. i speak english to my parents and they answer in spanish, like we have done since i was little.most of her "words" are english but about 2 are spanish i have recently read recently that babies raised bilingual talk late. i was wondering if this was true. truth is i don't even have enough exposure to small children to know when children start talking anyway, or how. my daughter is my first. if any parents of bilingual raised children can give personal info about when and how your children started talking it would be appreciated.
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#2 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 06:19 PM
 
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I don't think that it is true that all bilingual children speak late, just that it isn't unusual when they do. Because they are learning two languages simultaneously, sometimes they need longer to absorb all of it before they start talking. But there are plenty of uni-lingual children who speak late too, and there is a wide range of ages for "normal" speech development.

Just keep doing what you are doing! No need to worry until your child gets MUCH older and isn't speaking at all, which clearly isn't the case.

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#3 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 07:32 PM
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There is certainly quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that might suggest that they do, but current research in language acquisition says that this is just a myth and, on average, there is no difference in rate of language acquisition between monolingual and multilingual children. At any rate, there is a huge range for "normal" language development and, at 12 months, no need to worry

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#4 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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I was expecting DD to be a late talker beacuse of that, but no. She amazes everyone with her language skills! Even among the unilingual kids around her, she seems ahead.

However, she only wants to speak English. Although she understands French (the language I am using with her), she is not willing to speak it. I am not pushing it though, my friends son did the same thing. I just keep spekaing French even though she responds in English.

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#5 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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DD spoke late- she was nearly 3 when she started stringing together words forming phrases and speaking clearly enough for others to understand her. She was tri-lingual up to that point though...now only bi-lingual and she's caught up to her monoo-lingual counterparts. Reading rocks!

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#6 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 09:00 PM
 
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my 1 year old is bilingual english/spanish---my dh speaks mainly english to him, my MIL and step-FIL speak Spanish to him, and FIL speaks English to him. My mother and father speak English to him, and I speak mostly spanish to him. My mom is his caregiver when I am at work.

With that background info, at 12 months, he says "mama", "dada," "uh-oh", and "gato" (cat). He has pretyy equal receptive language in both languages, I think. I don't think he even knows what a "cat" is. Oh and if you ask him what a lion says he will roar

I work with a speech therapist and have asked her about his language development, being bilingual, and she says that this is an appropriate amount of language for any 12 month old, even a monolingual one.

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#7 of 22 Old 01-01-2009, 09:31 PM
 
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My ds is bilingual english/spanish as well. I speak english to him and dh spanish. My mom being mexican also speaks to him in spanish. My dad speaks to him in dutch. DS understands, but he doesnt speak it and that's why i don't call him "trilingual".
He's ahead, and he answers in spanish when you speak to him in spanish and with english too.

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#8 of 22 Old 01-02-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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My 20mo is bilingual (Spanish-English), he speaks mostly Spanish at daycare, and mostly English at home. He was saying lots of words by 12mos, full sentences by 17mos or so. For a long time he would understand both English and Spanish words for one thing, but, only say one (for example, he would only say "agua" but if you said, "turn off the water" he would do it) he just recently has begun saying the same word in both English and Spanish (he seems relatively indifferent as to when, except a little less Spanish with me and a little more at daycare); and he tends to say his sentences in a mixture of both English and Spanish.

In answer to your question though, I've never heard of them being delayed? I think my son talks a lot for his age (he keeps a running commentary on everything he does and yesterday he told me a story that lasted about 10mins)...I bet it really just depends on the kid, sounds like yours is doing really well also.
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#9 of 22 Old 01-02-2009, 07:53 PM
 
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My 19 mo old says one word only and that is mas! I read somewhere that kids usually pick up on speaking around this age but I haven't noticed anything different with her. She does babble and remembers hand movements to songs like patty cake and itsy bitsy spider.

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#10 of 22 Old 01-05-2009, 03:51 PM
 
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My sister and I were raised bilingually (until Kindergarten) and both spoke very early. Both of my children are being raised bilingually and are both late-talkers. Although my DS has since caught up and surpassed his age group in both languages.

Anyway, I've done some research and it appears to be a myth. Remember, there are plenty of countries where EVERYONE is raised multilingually and have no trouble learning how to speak. Also, bilingualism used to be the norm throughout the world. What I do think is that they may be more difficult to understand for a longer time as they tend to mix the languages together.

I know that where my DH is from (Bavaria, Germany) they attribute the fact that the majority are bilingual (the Bavarian dialect can be VERY different from High German) to their higher average test scores and IQ than the majority of Germans (excluding those that also come from dialect-heavy areas).

So, I think the broader question is: so what? So what if they learn to speak later? So what if they mix the languages up for a couple of years? In the end they'll benefit greatly from the bilingualism, not just in speech but also in raw intelligence and later opportunity. It's worth it either way.
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#11 of 22 Old 01-07-2009, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i heard that as long as each individual caregiver speaks only one language, it should be fairly easy for the child to take up both (or more) of the languages, which is how it is going in my case. i am not worried about my daughter at all i was more curious about how the bilingual language development took place overall, but i guess it is just as varied as anything else!
i also agree with you vanessa that it may make one more intelligent in the long run. i've been bilingual almost my whole life (which i found pretty normal and all), but as an adult i learned a third language and damn if THAT doesnt make you use your brain, a new language forces you to think differently, because it describes the world in a different manner it makes you see the world in a different manner.
thanks for all the responses!
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#12 of 22 Old 01-08-2009, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EVC View Post
There is certainly quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that might suggest that they do, but current research in language acquisition says that this is just a myth and, on average, there is no difference in rate of language acquisition between monolingual and multilingual children. At any rate, there is a huge range for "normal" language development and, at 12 months, no need to worry
:

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Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
Anyway, I've done some research and it appears to be a myth. Remember, there are plenty of countries where EVERYONE is raised multilingually and have no trouble learning how to speak. Also, bilingualism used to be the norm throughout the world. What I do think is that they may be more difficult to understand for a longer time as they tend to mix the languages together.
:

There is a very wide range of normal in both mono- and multilingual kids.

Anecdotally, my DS is 2.5; we're doing OPOL with French (me, daycare, some of my family) and English (DH, rest of family.) DS is just not much of a talker so he is definitely behind most of his peers, but his receptive language has been great and he keeps adding new elements. DH (monolingual) was apparently the same -- he had exactly two words until age 3, at which point he exploded into language.

professor & maman de DS1 (6) & DS2 (1)

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#13 of 22 Old 01-08-2009, 08:57 PM
 
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I think it is a myth....I think also sometimes it is thought of this because the evaluator only can understand the language they know.

My neice and nephew did switch back and forth languages at time would confuse you sometimes.

My sil and brother at times would look dazed and ask them to speak in either mommy's language or daddy's language. Just because their brain didn't switch back and forth as fast as theirs did.
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#14 of 22 Old 01-08-2009, 09:33 PM
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i heard that as long as each individual caregiver speaks only one language, it should be fairly easy for the child to take up both (or more) of the languages,
It really depends on the family. Like everything else, there is no "one size fits all" formula.

Quote:
i was more curious about how the bilingual language development took place overall, but i guess it is just as varied as anything else!
For a good "starter" book, I recommend you read this:

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Biling...460957&sr=8-10

It gives a good overview, uses a lot of concrete examples from real families, talks about what works, what doesn't work, etc. Now, it is NOT, in my opinion, the best book on bilingualism out there, but it is a prett clear, straightforward read for people new to the issue. A used copy isn't too expensive and it is a fairly quick read.

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#15 of 22 Old 01-08-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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i heard that as long as each individual caregiver speaks only one language, it should be fairly easy for the child to take up both (or more) of the languages,
We tried that but we're both fluent in both languages and we kept getting mixed up and speaking the wrong one. It was like the Tower of Babel here!
So we now have certain times that we speak certain languages and at those times there is only one language being heard. German when we're home with Daddy, English for during his work hours or when we have visitors. That's easier for us, and seems to make more sense to the kids.
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#16 of 22 Old 01-09-2009, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by VanessaS View Post
German when we're home with Daddy, English for during his work hours or when we have visitors. That's easier for us, and seems to make more sense to the kids.
That's basically what we do as well.

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#17 of 22 Old 01-12-2009, 07:45 AM
 
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Well, this is what I've always heard from ppl, also people with some expertise on bilangual upbringing (the practice and or theory) etc. and I2m not sure if its true or a myth by now...

I do think a lot has to do with a child's personal treats.

My first is very well at language level, from early on. He was even ahead in speaking, our ped was totally surprised cominmg up with the same story of likely delay in speech of more or at least one language involved. And never a problem occured regarding more languages in his life (mom flemish, dad turkish, between mom and dad english as well as turkish, and kurdish at ILs but only on occasional get togethers).

My second started later with language development (while many ppl have been saying a second child may catch up sonner because of language interaction with sibling too). He's not as early as vhild nr I on this matter, but ahead of him in other branches. And now he will become 3 soon, we notice that his language has made great improvement over the last couple of months, and he's slightly better at Turkish for now.

They even understand some English, especially the almost 5y old.

At 12 months nothing of that can be clear yet and I would just say not to worry much.

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#18 of 22 Old 01-13-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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My daughter, now nearly 5 years old, learned to 'speak' with sign language before she learned to properly speak either of the two languages spoken in our household.
I (a native English speaker living in Germany) have spoken only English with her since the beginning (no matter what the others around me think!), and her father, a German, speaks German with her (though he slips and slides a bit, since we speak a good deal of English together, and he's not so consistent, which used to worry me but now doesn't). I had the idea of using sign language with her, and although my husband was sceptical at first, he eventually saw that it was working and got into it, too. Eventually, we found the experiment to be VERY worthwhile--that is, in our case, using sign language (based on ASL) turned out to function as a kind of 'hinge' between the two spoken languages--for example, I would say 'cat,' my husband would say 'Katze' and we would both make the exact same sign for 'cat', which seemed to help her realize very early on that there were parallel linguistic systems at work here.
She began using the first three signs ('eat,' 'drink,' and 'more') around 11 months, and we then began to teach her more signs little by little over time, according to what was appropriate/necessary/interesting to her. Now and then she even came up with a sign herself, if we'd missed something (she invented a sign for 'breastfeeding'!!). By the time she was around 17 months old, she had a vocabulary of 80 signs. After she began to speak (around 18-19 months) and put sentences together (around 22 months), the words were often either/or (English/German) and sometimes hard for others outside the family to understand, but she very quickly learned to pronounce words clearly, separate the two languages and speak only one language at a time.

She almost never mixes languages, but often has to ask for help to remember the word in one or the other language. She speaks both languages equally well--with the only big difference being that her German vocabulary includes much more of the types of things that Kindergarten kids say to each other, whereas her English sounds quite mature and proper and polite (!), since she hears it almost exclusively from me or from the books and tapes we have!
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#19 of 22 Old 01-14-2009, 05:00 AM
 
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Eventually, we found the experiment to be VERY worthwhile--that is, in our case, using sign language (based on ASL) turned out to function as a kind of 'hinge' between the two spoken languages--for example, I would say 'cat,' my husband would say 'Katze' and we would both make the exact same sign for 'cat', which seemed to help her realize very early on that there were parallel linguistic systems at work here.
That is an awesome method to teach a child. And when you described it, I could just see how it would play out for her. Awesome, indeed!

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#20 of 22 Old 01-14-2009, 05:15 AM
 
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My bilingual kid spoke really early--I expected her to be really late after everything I'd heard, but she was a freakishly early talker. I'd say it totally depends on the kid.
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#21 of 22 Old 01-14-2009, 09:27 AM
 
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jangrau, we do exactly the same thing you described (and are also English and German speakers, although we live in the US and speak only German at home). DD1 is 18 months old and clearly understands both languages (will do what you ask in either). She can say quite a few words in both languages. Until recently, she only used the German OR the English word for something. (I.e., she called cars "Auto" but said "eat" in English) Just in the last week, though, she's started switching between the English and German words for one object (calling a car both "car" and "Auto").

It is so fascinating to watch language develop in a bilingual child!
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#22 of 22 Old 01-16-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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For a good "starter" book, I recommend you read this:

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Biling...460957&sr=8-10
Thank you for the book recommendation and everyone for sharing your experience. We want to raise our baby speaking greek and english and I had no idea how it was going to work out. Of course I still have time to reasearch but it helps to hear it from other parents

Greek vegan mama to an amazing little bean born in May 2009.
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