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Monday, June 11, 2012

Bilingual - Language Development - Little Man

So I have never commented on Little Man's language skills.

Sorry...I have been pretty busy lately ;-)

I have read many times that bilingual kids are late talkers.  But good news no issues here!

He was recognizing many many words by 13 months (i.e. baby, bird, panda, ball, duck, belly button, ears, nose, feet and shoes).  So we knew talking was on it's way.  He (technically) said his first word "Tiger'' at 15 months but then never said it again for a long time.  It's funny because that is F's College Mascot.  Coincidence I think not!  The 2nd OFFICIAL word was "Mama'' at 15 months followed by ''Papa'' at 16 months.

At 17 months he was saying Tchin Tchin (Cheers in French), Dodo (night night), Caca (Poop) and Miam Miam (Yummy).  He was recognizing many more words and he also could make a lot of animal sounds (chicken, lion, bear, monkey, dog and sheep).

At 18 months (Christmas Time) he was saying Santa, fish, encore (means more/again in French), please and baby

At 20 months he was saying Thank You and Merci as well as saying Mamie and Papy (Names for his French Grandparents).

At 22 months he started to add Verbs!  Casser (to break) and Cacher (to hide).  Words he started to use were water, cookie, bread, again and more (in English).  He started to repeat everything we said at this age. 

Just before his 2nd birthday he made his first sentence (in French)...Il est là and Il est parti both were using the Past Tense! 

At 25 months he learned his soon-to-be baby sister's name, started to form his first sentence in English (not a full sentence) he said ''You go'', started to say his own name and he counted in English (skipping a lot of numbers but mostly in order).

At 26 months while on vacation in Dordogne (Region known for Medievel Castles) he was trying to say Cheval and Chevalier but in Theo's language it is Falal and Falalier (Horse and Knight in French).  Other words learned this month were - outside, chercher ballon (first command - go get the ball), pecher (verb to fish), cache papa cache (means hide papa hide but he meant swim underwater papa), spashing (aka splashing) and Alwhite = Alright

Also at 26 months he said his first 3 English Sentences!   "I did it", "Little Man (he said his name) farted too" after papa farted and then after we were laughing hysterically he said "Little Man's (he said his name) so funny!" After these first English and French sentences his language really exploded.  Too many sentences to count or to keep track of.

At 27 months colors were a big accomplishment - Blue/Bleu he knew very well.  Rouge/Red pretty good.  Jaune/Yellow is his favorite so everything is Jaune.  Pink/Rose - is pretty good.  Vert/Green not very good with this color.  Still trying to expose new colors Purple, White, Black, Brown - he fully learned them all by 29 months.

At 28 months he said his first French negation sentence - Ylon ne manger pas (Tiger does not eat).

At 29 months he started to use contractions - can't find it, can't reach it

At 30 months he was able to tell me his ear hurt.  We caught an ear infection early!  

At 34 months he could recite a book we read at night by himself

Now to present just a few weeks shy of 3 years old...he is fully bilingual.  I do see some long pauses from time to time.  When he is trying to translate something from one language to another.  Also these pauses occur when he gets stuck on a noun he does not know the name for.  Instead of finishing the sentence with a general word like ''this'' or ''that'' he looks at me or my husband for help. 

He usually speaks the correct language to people.  Meaning if they are French speakers he speaks French and if they are English he speaks English.  He has been doing this for awhile.  He translates a lot of what his grandparents/papa says in French into English for me.  I think he thinks I don't understand haha! 

I only speak English to him (and his baby sister).  We subscribe to One Parent One Language.  We read every night (but my husband and I take turns so half French half English).  People ask all the time which language is he stronger in.  I think it is English.  And I believe my husband agrees.  BUT he is starting a French Preschool in the Fall.  I think I will need to step up the English speaking, reading and playgroups a bit to keep up the English language learning. 

Any tips or suggestions?  My worst fear is that he will get behind...

I would consider a bilingual school but I really don't think there is a real need here in Paris and in a One Language One Parent home.  We are also highly active with the English Speaking Community (having playgroups every other week).  My concerns are a bit eased because my husband is fluent and he was not a native (mother tongue) speaker like our children.  But it's always in the back of my mind.  Plus these bilingual schools are a terror to get into.  Just like those prep schools you hear about in NYC.  i.e. 9 spots and 100 kids apply!  There is only one nearby us (it's Catholic...which doesn't bother us too much) the rest are in the burbs.  Of course French school is free from age 3+ and the added expense of private bilingual school...I just can't seem to want to waste money IF I can teach them effectively.  Or if I see there is a problem I would hire a tutor to come in weekly. 

With the kids together I often wonder what language they will choose to speak ;-)  So far it is English!  But she is only 8 months so I don't know if it counts haha!

Let me know if you have any ideas...



  1. Glad you posted about this! I was really wondering how the bilingual situation was working out. I wish I knew a language well enough for LA to learn a second. We listen to a lot of spanish things and I teach her the words I know. My grandparents just brought CD's of Welsh nursery rhymes for her to listen to. I figure even if she grows up learning some of the sounds from other languages... I have such a hard time with the double ll's in Welsh.

    He's doing awesome! Good job mama!
    Wish I had more suggestions... the only one I can think of is that as he gets older into reading and all to label things with english and french words.... as a game but to help keep his brain working with both languages.

  2. This post is so insightful! We were so blessed with Dagny's (single, unless you count her limited signing) language skills that Bode seems incredibly slow. This is really going to help me with my expectations. At nearly 18 months and he only has a small handful of decipherable words (uh-oh, baby, mama, dada, bear, signs bird & bug, etc,) everything else is "da" or pointing and grunting/whining.

  3. @Carly glad this helps. I had been keeping a journal and want to blog about for over a year! At 2 is really when it exploded. But he was saying lots of words equally in both languages before then. We tested him once and he knew the French equivalent of over 50 words (house, door, dog, cat, bird etc). We were drawing the nouns and asking what they were in each language he loved it.

    And of course we read every night.

    Maybe Bode is overshadowed by Dag's? Does she finish his sentences? I have heard younger children are either slower or more advanced (walking, talking etc...). I think it fpreally depends on the older sibling. Little Man does not do things for Little Miss. He would rather steal her toy than give her one. I think this is why she started to crawl young (6mon 3wks).

    I really need to work on his language a bit more...if only we had more time haha! I hope when Little Miss gets bigger we can have more one on one time. She is attached to me like glue. Won't even want Papa sometimes. I hope 2 mornings at our daycare will open her up to others. She screams when her gparents come around!

  4. @Angel i'dlike a teachers pov. Do you know any elementary teachers? How do I start teaching reading, speaking grammar etc? Or do you know a good site or materials? I am going to be in the states in Aug and would like to pick up some stuff. I have a cousin who is an elementary teacher haha I should talk w her haha! But any help would be great!

  5. This post is insightful. My elder boy is slow in speech while the second one is picking up words easily. We used to have a chinese nanny so the boys were exposed to 3 languages. Now that I am a SAHM, I wonder how I can impart chinese to the boys. Elder boy says 'no' when I speak chinese. And I stick to the one parent one language rule. Guess it is too late to switch to chinese to them. Furthermore, I am more comfortable in english. Good thoughts on going to public school. I wanted so much to send them to a bilingual school but indeed, these schools are expensive and none near where we stay.
    Just 2 weeks ago, I brought elder boy for a hearing test at Robert Debre hospital. The PD insisted that I do it since my 3 year old is slow in speech. Turned out he has perfect hearing and knows a wide range of vocabulary. He could point out from the images everything the tester asked. Maybe I should blog about this too. Keep writing ok?

  6. sohcool I have a few tri-ling friends here. Mandarin and Filipino. One Singaporean takes turns with English and Mandarin (every other day). She gets the French at HdG/Maternelle and from her father. You could try that. Then they would get less confused. I think it is inevitable that they will refuse. They won't want to be ''different''. it's important to get involved in the community either Chinese or English or both ;-) Let me know if you want to get together sometime. Like I said I have 2 friends that speak Mandarin with their children. I can organize a playgroup with them and you!