When did your child figure out the use of noun cases? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 04-12-2012, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD1 is almost 3 and so far the multilingual thing is working out amazingly well.  We live in the US, she speaks English at preschool, DH's other language to him and my other language to me.

 

I posted here a while ago asking about gender - since English is nongendered I was wondering if/when she was going to figure out how gender worked.  She now understands gender, and while she doesn't always get the gender of a word right, it's clear that she knows each word has a specific gender and that adjectives should share the gender of the noun they modify.

 

She still has absolutely no clue about case though (since English is not explicitly inflected).  It's clear she has no understanding of why I sometimes use the nominative form of a noun and other times the accusative.  (Possessive she seems to get although she doesn't always form it correctly.)  I'm wondering when is a normal age for a kid to pick this up (and obviously it is really different for her than for someone who has community exposure to a case-using language). 

 

I'm not worried *at all* because like I said I am amazed and impressed at how well the language situation is working out so far, I am just kind of curious about other people's experiences.


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#2 of 12 Old 04-13-2012, 06:39 AM
 
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That's a good question, and I don't really have an answer, but will be curious about what others have to say. My kids speak my language (also highly inflected), but don't always get the noun cases or adjective-noun agreement right & they are 8 and 12. I was actually surprised to have to explain why the ending of the word matters at different times because I thought they would get that by osmosis (for instance, if you say the word house with a short "a" at the end it is in nominative, but with a long "a" you are saying "in the house"). But if we spent time in-country, I think they would get it with the foundation in the language that they have.


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#3 of 12 Old 04-20-2012, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey thanks, that is really informative.  8 and 12, so then I won't wait around holding my breath for DD to pick up the noun cases.

Are you planning to try to teach them the grammar in a more formal way or just let it be as it is?

 

 

Nobody else wants to geek out about grammar development in multilingual kiddos eh?  :)  

 

 


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#4 of 12 Old 04-20-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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Ha ha! I'm a translator, so geeking out about language is an occupational hazard!

 

My girls attend a cultural school on Saturdays where they get more formal language instruction. I figure their grammar won't be perfect unless they spend some time in-country. Heck, it's the same for me, since I'm a heritage speaker, although my level is quite good (I write articles for the community publication, for instance). It always gets better after a week of family camp in the summer speaking the language regularly every day. It's just that my DH understands, but does not speak the language much, so they hear a ton of English/Spanish at school and then plenty of English at home, too. I'm definitely in the minority with my language time.

 

High five to another trilingual family! thumbsup.gif
 


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#5 of 12 Old 04-23-2012, 05:57 PM
 
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my son is 3 and sometimes uses cases--he gets words with colors right some of the time--like saying "brown soda" ==braune cola, or red soda, rote cola and some with animals as well (schwarz-weisses Huhn) but mostly just in accusative, not much in any of the other cases, but I don't think it's a problem. This is the sort of thing that is also really drilled into them in school as well, so it would involve a lot of studying either way.


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#6 of 12 Old 04-26-2012, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

Ha ha! I'm a translator, so geeking out about language is an occupational hazard!

 

My girls attend a cultural school on Saturdays where they get more formal language instruction. I figure their grammar won't be perfect unless they spend some time in-country. Heck, it's the same for me, since I'm a heritage speaker, although my level is quite good (I write articles for the community publication, for instance). It always gets better after a week of family camp in the summer speaking the language regularly every day. It's just that my DH understands, but does not speak the language much, so they hear a ton of English/Spanish at school and then plenty of English at home, too. I'm definitely in the minority with my language time.

 

High five to another trilingual family! thumbsup.gif
 

 


High five! :)

 

I'm also a 'heritage speaker' (I haven't heard that term but I'm guessing it means you learned the language as a home language with immigrant parents, which is my case also) so I'm extra glad to hear that this can work to any degree even if you are doing it as the only parent who speaks the language AND it isn't your dominant language.  Amazing. :) 

 

I actually remember making errors with noun cases for a very long period of time, because there are some words that are almost always used in a particular case - e.g. 'coffee' is accusative 90% of the time because people are always talking about drinking coffee rather than about the coffee doing anything, and furthermore the gender of the word (and hence how to form the nominative) is not obvious when you only hear the accusative.  So I remember misclassifying words that I'd only heard accusative and then making errors when I tried to form the nominative but used the wrong gender.  I could still do this I guess in theory but it would have to be with a very unusual word that I hadn't encountered much.

 

 

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Originally Posted by Geist
 
my son is 3 and sometimes uses cases--he gets words with colors right some of the time--like saying "brown soda" ==braune cola, or red soda, rote cola and some with animals as well (schwarz-weisses Huhn) but mostly just in accusative, not much in any of the other cases, but I don't think it's a problem. This is the sort of thing that is also really drilled into them in school as well, so it would involve a lot of studying either way

 

Thanks, that's a helpful perspective also - is German your son's community or minority language?  My DD sometimes uses nouns in accusative case but it is totally random, not related to the actual function of the word in the sentence..


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#7 of 12 Old 04-26-2012, 07:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mambera View Post

 

 

Thanks, that's a helpful perspective also - is German your son's community or minority language?  My DD sometimes uses nouns in accusative case but it is totally random, not related to the actual function of the word in the sentence..

 

His minority language. I can't identify really if he ever uses the accusative. But he seems to use nominative case endings a lot at least. I don't think his speech is clear enough for me to really identify other cases. I'll have to listen to him very clearly in the next few days to see if I hear any :)

Accusative is a tricky case---at least in German, since masculine nouns switch to "den" while everything else stays the same. What a pain!

 

Also I just remembered a funny story regarding cases:

when I was a foreign exchange student in Germany (I'm a non-native speaker...), they were practicing case endings in German class and going around with each student doing an example. One of the students was a Russian who had been raised in Germany and when he got his question right, the teacher's comment was "That's pretty good for a Russian!"

So...if they don't get it while they're young, don't worry! They can always do worksheets when they're older ;)


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#8 of 12 Old 04-28-2012, 05:50 AM
 
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I started studying German at the age of 16 (so I've been at it for a good 25 years) and use German professionally, and I still have to look up the gender of words to get the declensions right when I am writing e-mails, etc. That's a tough one if you didn't absorb it when you were a young child!


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#9 of 12 Old 04-28-2012, 05:51 AM
 
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I'm also a 'heritage speaker' (I haven't heard that term but I'm guessing it means you learned the language as a home language with immigrant parents, which is my case also) so I'm extra glad to hear that this can work to any degree even if you are doing it as the only parent who speaks the language AND it isn't your dominant language.  Amazing. :) 

 

Yes, that's right. It can work. Not that it's not frustrating sometimes! It is hard for me to get my younger DD in particular to speak to me - she always wants to switch to English. But I keep at it!


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#10 of 12 Old 04-28-2012, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

 

Yes, that's right. It can work. Not that it's not frustrating sometimes! It is hard for me to get my younger DD in particular to speak to me - she always wants to switch to English. But I keep at it!

 


I figure if all else fails,  I can always have them airlifted to a German speaking country with nothing but a German-English dictionary and a wad of cash ;)


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#11 of 12 Old 05-11-2012, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey she did it! 

 

DD - What's this?

Me - It's a fruit (nominative) from that tree

DD - I'm going to pick the fruit (accusative) up

 

Any other time she has used the accusative it's been because I had just used that form for the word, and so she would use the same form whether it was appropriate for what she was saying or not.  This is the first time she's correctly chosen the noun case for the function of the word in the sentence.  Cool!  :)


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#12 of 12 Old 05-11-2012, 09:56 AM
 
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Whoo hoo! thumb.gif
 


Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"

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