At what age did your bilingual child start to speak?

(14 Posts)
gabsid Tue 09-Oct-12 15:41:26

DS started his first words at about 12 months and was a keen talker - in both languages (German/English).

DD started at just under 2, in both languages but at 2.5 was ahead of DS at the same age. She is a very good listener whereas DS is not so good at that.

cory Thu 20-Sep-12 08:22:16

Mine were about normal age for the first words, but dd then developed a complex sentence structure and large vocabularly very quickly in both languages; ds was more like average children. Otoh my monolingual nephews were quite slow in their language development. So they're all different.

I'd agree with SuiGeneris' advice: don't worry but check it out. If there is something else you need to do to help him then it's better to know, if there isn't then it will set your mind at rest.

SuiGeneris Thu 20-Sep-12 07:19:15

OPOL Italian/English here, living in the UK. DS (32 months) was also very slow to start talking, so much so that I asked for the 2-yr assessment with the health visitor. At the time he was 27 months and had few recognisable words, about 80pc English, despite me working part-time and his having an Italian nanny. On assessment day he refused to talk at all, so we got referred to speech therapist and audiologists. It turned out his speech was late but ok (bottom end of normal range, about 80 words by 27 months) but there was a problem with his hearing caused probably by the many colds he'd had that winter.
After 3 months in Italy and 3 sessions with a speech therapist for us to learn how best to support him things have improved a lot: hearing is now ok, learning new words every day and Monday we had his first 4-word-sentence.
So my advice would be "don't worry but check it out": we were told many times how glad they were we'd raised this rather than put it down to bilingualism...

Frakiosaurus Mon 17-Sep-12 17:39:58

Our OPOL DS (also Fr/En) has been speaking since approx 10months, at 17months he has more than 100 words and can make simple phrases. He has maybe 5 French words, though, but creche should help with that.

I've had experience of working with lots of different children and based on that I'd say you really can't generalise. No words at all by the age of 2 I would worry, otherwise I'd just keep an eye and encourage talking, singing, reading stories together as much as possible. Remember to count words in both languages, even if they're the same thing - whilst a bilingual child might have 2 English words, they may have the same in French and that's 4 separate words. The only thing that can slow less co didn't speakers down in not knowing which language to use when and co sequential not saying anything IME.

Don't worry about the second language - of they can learn one they can very probably learn another.

dragonflymama Sun 16-Sep-12 18:29:14

DD1 is 3 and spoke (English) from a young age - great vocab and sentence structure. It gave us hope that her second language would come quickly too. She understands German very well, but is reluctant to speak (apart from counting, colours, games etc). She follows German instructions and joins into German conversations, but in English (arrrgggh!). We live in the UK and have done OPOL since birth - i am English (but can speak reasonable German), DH is German (& speaks fluent English). We are keen for the German speech to come, but think it will soon....

From conversations i've had and internet research most bilingual children absorb the second language, but vary when they decide to speak it. Variables such as - which country you live in, which language is the mother tongue, which the father tongue, what is the "home language", what is the social language (friends, nursery, pre-school, school etc), child's gender (girls develop faster mentally incl speech, boys physically) etc. I think the ideal situation is living & socialising in the opposite country to the mother tongue.

However patience seems to be the key....! I am v keen to hear any other tips - can't wait for the day when daughter swops between languages as appropriate.

nextphase Sun 26-Aug-12 19:29:58

OPOL here also, so a slightly different situation.

I was getting really worried about DS1 as he approached 2, and listed down his vocab. Very little in minority language, and less than a dozen words in English.

By 26 months, when the 2 year check I requested was a face to face meeting with the HV, he had had the vocab explosion mentioned in the previous thread. At 3.4 he has clearer speech than many of his contemporaries, and no issues with vocab. He had great understanding of both languages from fairly on tho.

DS2 seems to be going the opposite way to his brother. At 15 months he has maybe half a dozen recognisable (to us) words, and also understanding, but better in English than the minority language of the family.

I think the bilingual bit can be a red herring, but those who might have been slow in one language, may be even slower in 2, and those with great language acquisition ability aren't affected by multiple languages.

I am almost exactly in your position, romilly except ds2 is a month younger and we speak both French and English at home.
So far we have, voila, bravo, maman, papa, non and that is it!

Ds1 (same languages, same home setup) was talking by now.

We are going to ask the paediatrician when we see her in Sept, if she has any new pearls of wisdom for us, ill let you know.

SuoceraBlues Sun 26-Aug-12 19:03:36

A few words in English when he was a baby. "Ball" was the main one. Then a few words in Italian when he went to nursery. "Palla" (ball) being the main one.

But actual proper "other people understand me and I don't mix the two languages up massively", four or five ish.

I was at the point of utter panic ...when he just sort of took off.

He is twelve now and I can't get him to shut up in either language.

kaz1119 Sun 26-Aug-12 18:59:39

Dc1 started talking a bit nearer 3 but has autism which affects her language badly.

Dc2 is 21 months as well and growing up with 3 languages. She has loads of words and is speaking in 2 and 3 word phrases. She speakes mainly english but understands her other 2 languages really well.

SoldeInvierno Mon 20-Aug-12 18:55:53

DS was at least 24 months before he said more than "mama" and "papa". But once he started, there was no way to stop him. English came first and he started speaking in his second language when he was about 3.5yo

tourdefrance Thu 16-Aug-12 11:34:38

DS 1 was not speaking much before 2 and considerably less than his monolingual cousin who is 3 months younger. DS2 started speaking far earlier than DS1, lots of words from 18m or so. So it probably has nothing to do with bilingualisim.
DS1 still uses German words mid English sentence at home but seems to stick to English at home.

bananaramma Wed 15-Aug-12 14:45:24

In my experience (and from reading books on the subject) bilingualism does not affect learning to speak - like monolingual children, some children talk early, some later.

My bilingual (one parent one language) dd spoke very early whereas my ds started much later. Even at age 5 he still mixes up both languages a little (makes grammatical mistakes etc.).

So please do not worry - kids develop at different rates, regardless of how many languages they learn.

noramum Wed 15-Aug-12 09:54:53

Still very normal. We had a breakthrough at 22 months when DD changed nursery group and the other children were older and more talkactive (as much as a 2 year old can be).

My mono-lingual friend had huge issues with her DD, virtual not speaking until she was 2.

Does your DS attends any nursery or regular french environment? If not, then most of his first word will be English.

Romilly70 Tue 14-Aug-12 22:43:57

I started this thread as my 21month old DS does not speak much.

I got some very good advice in that thread, but i am wondering whether it is as simple as DP & I are both british & we speak english at home, but live in France, so DS may still be processing the 2 different languages. All of his recognisable words to date have been in english

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