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Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Are You Saying, Dear?

Have you been in a situation when your friends ask you to interpret what your child is saying? I have. My daughter speaks and reads in two languages now. But in the beginning it was pretty tough for us. She started speaking early but sometimes she would mix and match two languages together and in addition to that she would add some "baby talk" when she did not know how to say something in either of the languages. It did sound strange.
What do you do? You stick to your plan and be patient! Your child will not speak the way you expect him/her to over night. It takes months, years to see results, especially if your child is bilingual.
Here is the plan. If you are speaking more than one language, you should practice it in every language you use.

  1. Read to your child at least 15 minutes every day. Ideally, as much as you can. Reading develops children's vocabulary immensely. Make it fun by choosing colorfully illustrated books, the characters your child likes, catchy rhymes, etc. You will be pleasantly surprised when one day you will see your little one cuddled up with a book all by him/herself.

  2. Discuss with your child the books you read, ask a lot of "wh"-questions to make your child say more than just a "yes" or "no". Ask him/her to retell you what was read to him/her.

  3. It might seem like a no-brainer but you should converse with your child more. We are all busy and tired and talking about dollies and toy trucks seem like a waste of our precious downtime. But it has a good pay of, trust me on that one. It gives your child a chance to ask questions and find out the answers he/she was hoping to get, learn new words, and also learn a thing or two about conversation ethics. The list of benefits is long and honestly, depends on you very much. So try to use new words daily, ask questions, speak in complete sentences with correct grammar, use a lot of descriptive attributes.

  4. Playing with puppets is a good example of learning through play. Invest in some or you can make homemade ones too.

  5. Singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes and poems help your child to get familiar with the sound system of the language. That is a good introduction to phonics. So sing and clap!

  6. Pretend-and-play toys(toy telephone, doll house, dress-up clothes, etc.) let you child practice his/her language skills when you are not around.

  7. I found that educational DVDs work great for my child. When I can not give her that one-on-one time, I pop one of those into a DVD-player and everybody is happy: she gets to see her favorite characters and I know that she spends quality time. After that we discuss what she has seen. Just be careful what you let him/her watch.

If you stick to that plan, you will see some results in near future. Be selective in what you expose your child to. Spend some quality time with him/her. Be a good role model. It worked for me, it is going to work for you.

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