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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>So, my son is almost 2.5 years old. We're raising him trilingually with German (me), Finnish (dad), and English (the world). He has been speaking in full sentences since before his 2nd birthday, mainly in German. He would say things like "ich möchte ____", I want ____, like to go home, to eat, candy, etc. Or he would say "Ich habe gepullert," I pottied, that sorrt of thing. He would even say a few sentences in Finnish like "Missä sinä olet?" where are you? and other things. Lately, though, it seems as if he's not using sentences as much and mainly what he does when he wants something is to go up to me or dad and grab an arm and say, "yeah. Yeah? Yeah!" It's almost as though he's realized that this is a sure fire way to make us understand that he wants something because then he can just drag us over to what he wants and he'll get it because often times Dad wouldn't understand him when he would say "ich möchte" or I would miss it because German isn't my native and I have major issues picking up "baby German" unless I'm really paying attention really hard.</p>
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<p>It doesn't help that his speech is...weird. He usually misses the first letter of the word, either by misprounouncing it ("Bon-bon" is "Mon-mon") or skipping it ("Olke" instead of "Wolke," and that also sounds the same as every other worde he uses ending in -ecke.). There are some other issues he has, like with the word for car in German and Finnish: Auto. He has always said Autem. I can count on one hand ther number of times he's said "AutO." I've also noticed a lot of times when he speaks, he says the word fine, but he doesn't open his mouth at all and mumbles it like a bad ventriloquist, which makes him a lot harder to understand.</p>
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<p>I'm thinking that due to the multilingualism, he's kind of given up on using full sentences because he can't rely on us actually understanding him all the time. He will combine a word of a thing he wants, like if he wants to watch Thomas, he'll say "Eisenbahn, yeah?" (Trian, yeah?) but he won't say "I want to watch the train." He has spoken in sentences recently, like when he wanted to leave with his dad and we told him he had to stay home, he told me in English "I be righ back," which was hard to understand but I immediately recognized it because that's what my husband and I always say to each other when we leave.</p>
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<p>So, I'd really like some advice as to how we can encourage him to use more of his words and actively speak in full sentences instead of just pulling on our arms and going "yeah. Yeah? Yeah!" I've thought about just ignoring him until he uses the correct words, but I know that would be frustrating for everyone involved. What we've started doing is asking him to tell us what he wants and we go through a list. Do you want this? Do you want that? And he'll tell us no, no no until we get to the right one, when he'll say yes. Then we try to make him say it in a sentence, "I want this...I want that..." It works most of the time, but is there anything else we can do to encourage him to use his words?</p>
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<p>(I did talk to his doctor about his speech at his 2 year check up  just to make sure he wasn't abnormally delayed and she said that the range of normal around 2 was so varied that you really couldn't tell. Some kids are only saying a few words while others are talking up a storm. The fact that we're raising him with three languages only makes the waters murkier.)</p>
 

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<p>You might look at this:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.cpsd.us/bela/index.htm" target="_blank">http://www.cpsd.us/bela/index.htm</a></p>
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<p>and be reassured.  Bilingual children typically create their own language mixtures, and only sort it all out later.  A rule of thumb that I've read several times is that at 2, you should be able to understand about 25% of your child's language, at 3, you should be able to understand about 75%, and a non-family member should be able to understand about 25%, and at 4, a non-family member should be able to understand about 75%.  </p>
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<p>So that terrible pronunciation and elocution is perfectly normal.  Even one-language children use shortcuts to express themselves.  Full, complete sentences come later than one would expect, and significantly later for multilingual children. No worries!!</p>
 

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<p>No advice from me, but I think your son is lucky to have such a great advantage. I wouldn't worry too much, when I studied developmental neurolinguistics, all of the stuff you describe were considered normal.</p>
 

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<p>I agree it is normal at this stage and especially normal given multiple languages. Many single language children have trouble at this age with stuttering, I think it could be the same issue your son is having. Basically the mouth and brain just can't keep pace with each other. Adding multiple words in multiple languages is confusing! </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>My main concern is really that he doesn't use sentences as much as he used to (possibly because we had issues always catching onto what he was saying) and I'd really like for him to go back to using the sentences he used to use. Will he just get back there on his on at some point? Because part of me feels like his speech has regressed or I'm just getting even worse at understanding it!</p>
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<p>I'm not too too worried about his speech, though I really wouldn't be surprised if he ended up needing speech therapy simply because he and his father are a lot alike. My husband was raised bilingually with Finnish and Swedish and needed therapy with his r's (which are rolled in Finnish) and some other letters. He also (interestingly enough) stuttered pretty badly and still does at times.</p>
 

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<p>Geist, I think he will. Remember, he was first just parroting a sentence you said, and now he's creating his own mixture of the languages.  Eventually he'll go back to using complete sentences in each language.  I know other mothers of trilingual children, and they've all had similar experiences.</p>
 

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<p><a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119120409.htm" target="_blank">http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119120409.htm</a></p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<p>Okay, I'll believe you :) We just worry that he'll never talk or be stunted in all three languages. He definitely understands lots of words in both languages and one night at dinner was pointing at and saying body parts in both German and Finnish so we know he's learning them. Lately it seems like he's been mimicking me a lot more, repeating words that I say and that sort of thing. So we'll see. We know my husband was speaking both languages he was raised in by 4...so I guess we'll have to see how it develops til then.</p>
 
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<p>We're raising our son bilingual (English and German). Years ago, I read somewhere that a child can easily learn up to 3 languages (~30% time on each) at a time.</p>
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<p>For awhile, I was wondering whether we were just confusing him, as he's not much of a talker. A typical conversation with him used to be "da!" (there) and pointing at what he wants or just some "errrr!" sort of noise and jumping up and down.</p>
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<p>At 20 months now, he understands virtually everything we say to him in both languages (though often ignores us when he wants to do something naughty anyway <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif">). He also has a few words in each language (usually picks a favorite language for each word) and has some in both (for instance, cheese/Käse b/c he likes it <img alt="winky.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/winky.gif">).</p>
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<p>He's not talking in sentences yet (unless you can count "cheese, ja!" as a sentence <img alt="lol.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif">), but recently he's started to speak more and more words. I think it's b/c he now goes 2 mornings/week to a bilingual preschool. He also has English playgroup one morning/week. Seeing that the older children speak a lot must be a huge motivation.</p>
 
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<p>I've gotten great feedback regarding my bilingual questions from the folks in the multicultural families forum (under Parenting).</p>
<p>My LO is younger than yours and is just beginning to say his first words in 2 languages <span><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif">, so I haven't gotten there yet.</span></p>
<p><span>Good Luck</span></p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>littlegreenlady</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1290288/yeah-yeah-yeah#post_16202366"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I've gotten great feedback regarding my bilingual questions from the folks in the multicultural families forum (under Parenting).</p>
<p>My LO is younger than yours and is just beginning to say his first words in 2 languages <span><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif">, so I haven't gotten there yet.</span></p>
<p><span>Good Luck</span></p>
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<br><br><p>Yea, I've read that forum and posted there at times (not about this), but mainly I saw this more as a toddler developmental issue because he did speak earlier in sentences and say "ich möchte..." when he wanted something but lately that had turned into just pulling on our arms and saying "yea, yea yea?" over and over, so   we were a little concerned he was regressing. But apparently that happens a lot with trilingual kids, so I guess it is a bit mroe of a multilingual issue after all!</p>
 
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