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How to improve my (bi-lingual) child's speaking?

(20 Posts)
SwindonMummy Thu 18-Oct-12 10:18:59

He is 3 years old and started preschool last month.
He is on the waiting list for the speach therapy assessment but I would like to know what else we could do to help him.

We don't have any family around here. My family lives abroad and husbands 1h flight away. We have moved into new town not long ago and friends live 100 miles away.

My son's world has been mom and dad. Little brother appeared earlier this year and that means mummy doesn't have so much time for big brother anymore. Although I try my best.

I speak my own language for him and daddy speaks english.

His speach is mostly mixture of two languages, broken english, badly pronounced words... He likes to talk alot but gets frustrated when people don't understand him.

Should we hire someone privately?
What qualifications should this person have?

MmeLindor Thu 18-Oct-12 10:36:47

It is not uncommon for bilingual children to speak later than monolingual kids. Mine certainly spoke later than their peers.

DD was in a similar position when she went to nursery in Germany at 3yo. She spoke some English, almost no German. I presume your DH is working during the day, so he only hears English in the evening and at weekends?

DD took a while to catch up, but she did and now her language skills are totally normal.

If you do look for a speech therapist - then look for one who has experience in bilingualism, ideally she should be able to therapy your son in both languages.

Why are you on the waiting list for a SALT? Did the nursery recommend it?

SwindonMummy Thu 18-Oct-12 10:49:53

Husband isn't home until 7pm and that's why son doesn't hear much english at home. Except from Cbeebies.

Nursery recommended SALT. He's supposed to have an assessment next month. Guess we'll see what happens then...

We're not exactly looking for a speech therapist. I believe that is given to us free if needed.
I would like him to have some english person to chat with but obviously don't want any random people in my house.

It's a difficult situation...

MmeLindor Thu 18-Oct-12 10:54:23

How long does he go to nursery?

I would wait a while before thinking about getting someone in to speak more English. Once he gets settled in nursery, maybe see about inviting one of his friends round, with his mum to have tea.

Do you have any English speaking friends?

SwindonMummy Thu 18-Oct-12 11:13:16

He's there 3 hours a day.

As I mentioned earlier all our friends live far away. Don't have any friends in this town.

nextphase Thu 18-Oct-12 11:20:06

What is his speech like in your language? If he is confident in your language, and understandable by those who also have that as their first language, I think the English will come.

My 2 are bilingual from birth (tho English is the majority language, and we are in UK). The 18 month has pretty good comprehension in both languages, but it only attempting sounds from English. The 3.5 year old comprehends both languages, but replies in English (and will "correct" DH - No Daddy, Mummy says XYZ not what you've just said)

I think you will find his English improves as he spends more time in Nursery, and then school, assuming his first language speech is good.

Can you find a nice toddler group to allow your son to be surrounded by English?

fraktion Thu 18-Oct-12 11:20:30

You could try to hire a student as a daytime babysitter just to play with him. Focused attention and playing should help. They may also be competent enough in time to watch the baby while you play with your DS1.

How many words does he have if you combine both languages? What is the nursery's reason for being concerned? Can be make short phrases even if they aren't correct (me do it, daddy gone work, want more juice)?

Can you do talking/describing games at home with him while caring for your DS2? Or encourage him to talk and describe what he's going to you?

Mixing languages is normal and separating them will come in time now he's in an environment where they won't understand one of his languages. Strange pronunciations are normal- even monolinguall children do it.

Bonsoir Thu 18-Oct-12 11:23:14

If I were you, I would wait six months for your DS to get settled in nursery and to make friends before worrying about his English. His English should improve immeasurably if he is at nursery every day.

Just carry on speaking your language to him at home.

gabsid Mon 22-Oct-12 12:38:26

Most definately, I would wait about 6 months too.

Are there other bi-lingual children in the nursery? Does the nursery have experience with bi-lingualism?

Someone recently told me that a doctor advised her to speak English and not German (her native language) to her 2.5 year old DD who didn't speak at all. Luckily that mum ignored that advice and a year later the child spoke both languages well.

noramum Wed 24-Oct-12 14:05:22

I think 3hr/day is not really a lot. DD is German/English and I always made sure she hears enough English outside home so we send her to nursery early and attended English speaking playgroups and toddler courses a lot.

I still speak mainly German to her, the only exception is when we are in mixed company especially with lots of other children I need to address all at once. And DD obviously hears me speaking English to my friends/colleagues/at the shops etc.

Try to get out a bit more and let him socialise.

SwindonMummy Thu 25-Oct-12 14:50:10

Like I mentioned we also have a baby in the house so it's not always so easy to go out and socialise even if I wanted to.

We used to do that but then baby came and kept waking mummy every two hours and mummy was dead tired during the day.

MIFLAW Fri 26-Oct-12 12:25:37

Did the nursery recommend a SALT because your child is bilingual or are there other, more compelling reasons? A lot of people are quick to blame bilingualism for problems that are nothing to do with bilingualism or even that would not be identified as problems at all in a non-bilingual. Late speaking is a classic. Monolingual - he's just taking his time, don't worry about it. Bilingual - perhaps you're over-burdening or confusing him.

In its broadest sense, bilingualism and multilingualism is the norm in the world and monolingualism is the exception.

In terms of practical advice, when my bilingual daughter was about 2 and a half and mixing languages, I would pretend not to understand unless she spoke our language to me. Then, when she got it wrong (which was nearly always at first) I "fed it back" to her, where possible adding a bit more.


D: I fell over.

Me: Je ne comprends pas.

D: J'ai tombe.

Me: Ah, tu es tombee? Ah, la, la! Tu t'es fait mal?

Within maybe six months I didn't need to do the pretending any more. I still do the feed back, correct and add when she makes mistakes, but that's also much rarer now.

Of course, context is all - if she had really hurt herself or if something is troubling her or if she doesn't know how to say it in French, then I don't give her a hard time over mistakes or using the odd word of English. But i always re-model it for her in French and I never lapse into English myself (even though, as a bilingual myself, my English is actually stronger than my French and I could easily use it if i wanted to.)

Khaterine Tue 13-Nov-12 13:34:05

I have a little boy who is 1.5 years old and I thinking of sending him to different courses to learn German through various creative games. I have heard there are special courses for children of this age and that it is very important for them to communicate in a foreign language as soon as possible because they learn much faster, so this helps a lot in the future and improves their linguistic skills. Can you recommend a place for such specialized courses in London?

noramum Tue 13-Nov-12 14:45:56

Khaterine: are you or your partner German? If so there are some German Saturday Schools around London.

If not, sorry, I don't see a point. My DD learned French at nursery, once a week and she forgot everything as fast as she learned it. Unless you use a language I think you can save your money.

Khaterine Thu 15-Nov-12 15:43:06

Unfortunately neither me nor my partner is German and therefore I need a course for a long time, not just for a year or two, so the child will constantly speak the language and won’t forget it. Because once he grows, I want him to go to a German School.

natation Thu 15-Nov-12 16:44:17

The German school in Richmond starts at 3 years old doesn't it? There will without doubt be groups associated with the school for children younger than 3, mums and tots groups. I'd start there. But are you moving to Germany? I'm intrigued.

Khaterine Fri 16-Nov-12 10:42:36

Oh understand wrong...the school is in London but the line study is in German

natation Sat 17-Nov-12 18:11:42

No German spoken + no moving to a German country.
I am genuinely curious as to why you therefore are looking I presume at the German School in Richmond (if looking at school in London)?

MyLastDuchess Sun 18-Nov-12 12:48:23

A lot of people are quick to blame bilingualism for problems that are nothing to do with bilingualism or even that would not be identified as problems at all in a non-bilingual. Late speaking is a classic. Monolingual - he's just taking his time, don't worry about it. Bilingual - perhaps you're over-burdening or confusing him.

I am a native English speaker living in NL and I see this a lot. My son is 2.3, his father is Dutch so he is exposed to both languages. DS babbles a lot to himself and makes up his own words for things. I apparently did the same as a toddler (I was brought up monolingual), but so many people here say it's because he thinks, 'Mama has her own language, Papa has his own language, I can have my own language too.' hmm Erm, well, more likely it's because he takes after me and just likes making random sounds and garbling on when playing games by himself.

Obviously I'm not saying that there ISN'T a problem with your DS, I have no way of knowing, but in my years of living here I have seen so many kids go from having a mixture of languages when little to suddenly being able to keep the languages straight and then being able to translate from one to another. It's just the way the brain works for most of us, it all starts out as a mess and then kids are gradually able to differentiate between the languages and know when to use which one.

noramum Sun 18-Nov-12 19:56:19

The German School in Richmond follows the German Curriculum, not the English. It is 1/2 days only and therefore requires the parents to do more homework than an English School. As children are starting later in Germany than England I don't know how you would get your child start when he turns 4-5.

Also, German is only part of the language, there will be English as well. Plus it seems to have a high fluctuation if pupils as people are on ex pat contracts for 2-3 years and come and go.

Why would you consider a language neither your nor your partner speak as a basis for your child's education?

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