Words Wonderful Words


December 10, 2012 by empraise

So Little M is trying very hard to form words.  He is babbling like crazy and I sometimes think that if we were speaking English to him, his babbles would make more sense!  As it is, when he says “ba” and points to the ball, I don’t know if he is trying to say “bal” in German “ball” in English or …where would “pelota” come in??  I want to reinforce what he is trying to do, so I often will tell him, bien echo amor, papa dice “bal”, y nosotros decimos “pelota”.
Good job sweetie.  Dad says “bal” and we say “pelota”. It is my feeble attempt to help him assimilate all this language information and to encourage him to try speaking.  My husband actually suggested this method, based on what he read in this book by George Saunders, a non-native speaker of German, raising his children bilingually.

I have a friend who is a linguist and we were discussing this the other night at a party.  Her own personal opinion was that this was a good idea, because the child begins to understand much before they can speak.  So even if he can’t tell us the two different names for ball, he may fully understand that we are each speaking about the ball when we use Spanish and German respectively.  I was fascinated talking with her about language “triggers” and coding.  I think I would like to have her write an article as a guest contributor one day.

More words are fast coming for Little M, and I always breath a sign of relief when the two words resemble one another in both (or all three!) languages:  like “banana”.  I have been calling it a “platano” for so long, out of habit.  Then I realized it would be much easier if we all called it “banana”, which is what many Spanish speakers call it anyway!

During this critical point of language production for Little M, we have a well-timed trip to Germany planned.  I am excited to blog about all his progress while surrounded by native German-speakers!


2 thoughts on “Words Wonderful Words

  1. Bonne Maman says:

    I can really relate to this post 😀 being a non-native speaker I often found (less so now fortunately) that I didn’t always pick out the words my daughter was starting to say in French. When its your first language I think you brain naturally filters the sounds your young children make and tries to give you the most sensible and probable possibilities… With you second language, particularly if you are not living in a country where that language is spoken, then I don’t think this is always the case… It used to worry me. Particularly because my daughter would often repeat the word several times and then either day the equivalent in English in the hope I’d recognise that word.. Or… Cry in frustration at not being able to make herself understood. Fortunately this happens far far less now probably due to the combination of the fact that she speaks far more clearly now as her speech really takes off and also because my ears seem to have tuned into the french words far more. It must be really quite mind bending for you navigating that path in three languages but very exciting and definitely worth it…

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