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Did your bilingual children speak late?

(42 Posts)
WhatTheWaterGaveMe Sun 14-Apr-13 13:35:58


For those who have spoke 2 (or more) languages since birth around their children, when did they start speaking coherently?

My DD is 14 months old, I speak English and she is exposed to it pretty much everywhere. OH speaks his language to her and she is exposed to it when he speaks to her, when we visit his family, music etc. But far more English.

She doesn't really say anything yet - she went through a phase of saying one word in OH's language but she doesn't really say it anymore!

She doesn't say mum, or baba (which would be dad for her).
She makes lots of noises, she's vocal, just nothing coherent!

I'm not worried as such, because I know all babies are different, and have heard that bilingual children sometimes speak late.

Intrigued of others experiences smile

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 11-Jun-13 13:45:55

We really try every possible formula.
Most of the time, whichever language we speak, they reply in standard BBC english, which is really infuriating because (with no offense whatsoever) its the common minimum denominator and we'd really like to see them make an effort.

My main problem at the moment is that the standard BBC english is delivered in a CNN accent punctuated with copious amount of "like" and "whatever" & "ok, cool, you got it"

LeBFG Tue 11-Jun-13 13:32:10

No I don't suppose it is. It just struck me as amusing the language division in the Luxemburg newspaper -

Do you switch language during a conversation or do you ask a question in one language and the children reply in another? Is there a lot of code switching going on? Just interested to know, I'm not the Spanish Inquisition blush.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Tue 11-Jun-13 12:48:06

LeBFG tbh, french is really not fluffy and feminine in my psyche. Its just innate as opposed to acquired ( which would be english for me)
Without the added dimension of the other 2 languages, its the exact opposite of kids experience. Which makes me feel completely schizophrenic most of the time.

LeBFG Tue 11-Jun-13 09:24:28

Plus, cory, it made me laugh at the choice of languages: emotional, feminine french for fluffy communication and cold, masculine german for the hard statistics and tough sports reading too much gender stuff at the mo

LeBFG Tue 11-Jun-13 09:21:56

Yes, this piqued my interest too cory. I've been trying (and eulagising a bit too) about English at home, French abroad so to speak. As DS's language has been slowly getting better I've been speaking more French at home. He'll go to school next year and I want to know where he is with his understanding (I suspect CM of using English words angry). I then worried about confusing him or passing on poor accent etc, but after reading posts on this board I'm less concerned now. I'm more worried about later on when French might become his preferred language at home. Proficiency in both languages is my goal.

Thanks for the link about proununciation OneLittleToddle. I'm new to babies so it's nice to see it's normal to struggle with certain sounds.

cory Tue 11-Jun-13 08:11:09

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:49:54
"We both speak english and french indiscriminately.
English takes over most of the time as we must do phonics and reading with the little one and research/homework with the eldest.
So naturally any "intellectual" conversation is carried out in English, which for my children is the "cultured" language (same as french when we were growing up in an Arab country). French is nurture and friends."

This is fascinating. It's like a Luxemburgian newspaper! We were intrigued during a holiday some years ago to see that culture in the Luxemburg press is all French, sport is German and local news are Letzeburgisch (sp.).

<goes off to ponder diglossia in own family>

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 10-Jun-13 12:08:59

Here's the list of commonly mispronounce sounds by preschoolers

It says it's around 4 before they can say them with ease. HTH.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 10-Jun-13 11:59:00

LeBFG my DD can't say the c sound in car or cat either. She says it as tar and tat. If you google, you'll find it's a common one they have problem with. Supposedly they will just get better at making these sounds over time. And that's why only their carers will understand them sometimes. Also, that's why we shouldn't be repeatedly telling them they are saying something wrong.

But I do notice there are some differences. A boy I know who's slightly older than DD. He has better speech, but couldn't say the s sound (as in swimming). DD says the s really well. It could be because cantonese has a lot of s and ts sounds.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:52:38

whose blush

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 10-Jun-13 11:52:00

LeBFG it sounds pretty good to me. The HV says it's supposed to be comprehensible to his carer only. They will have problem announciating properly for a while. I think it's worse for bilignual children because they'll be mixing the two languages. So the test would have to be a carer that is fluent in both languages the child is raised on. In my case, it's only me. DH is learning some cantonese words but he seems quite forgetful on new words sometimes. It might be the 100th time, say, he heard DD asking for her hat in cantonese, and he still didn't click it's the hat!

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:49:54

We both speak english and french indiscriminately.
English takes over most of the time as we must do phonics and reading with the little one and research/homework with the eldest.
So naturally any "intellectual" conversation is carried out in English, which for my children is the "cultured" language (same as french when we were growing up in an Arab country). French is nurture and friends.
It all sounds very precious am sorry!

Franca, agree, accents change all the time. In Asia most kids speak English in school and American in the playground because its wayyyy cool right?

Quite frankly, I know so many ozzie/NZ/UK families who only have one language and who's kids (boys particularly) dod not form coherent sentence until past 3. Speech therapy is a good thing but really if they are engaging and happy to communicate in other ways, do not beat yourself up.
Starting school is the turning point between 3-4 and the teachers will point you in the right direction.
I do guided reading as a parent helper in reception this year. Some little boys have noticeable speech impairements but are still on the higher bands on ORT and other schemes.
Just be consistent sounding out words and READ WITH YOUR KIDS. build up and sound sound out vocabulary for them. Just picture books are fab. sound out every image and make use of their imagination and yours to comment on the pictures.

Francagoestohollywood Mon 10-Jun-13 11:42:25

Mine had a great Devonian accent LeBFG! I have to say that I am more concerned about their prepositions than their accent, at the moment grin

LeBFG Mon 10-Jun-13 11:38:06

I'm similar to you Master but I reasoned the other way - he can't get a word in edgeways grin. Poor thing. When you say you speak two languages, is that one language per parent? How does that work?

Accents are pretty flexible Franca - they'll improve no end with time in the UK. I had an very pronounced westcountry accent when I went to uni. Three years on and I left with a south London accent (which I'll regret to my dying day) because I felt it was important to conform. It does come back a bit if I visit family or drink a glass or two of cider.

Squidge - I'm very interested by your experiences. I would very much like to know what happens. How does you DS form the words he says? My DS will not make O shapes for example. He also can't say hard k words like 'cat'. Do you notice similar things?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:26:18

I thinking modelling the language is very impirtant too,
Am a real chatterbox, commenting every action and talking to myself all day long!
They probably started speaking early just so that i would shut up grin

Francagoestohollywood Mon 10-Jun-13 11:23:00

My accent is good, not too overtly Italian, but def not English. I know we should have switched to speaking English when we moved back, but we didn't and I regret it.

We've been back 5 yrs now, they were 5.5 and 3.5 when we moved back. They speak good English, and I plan to spend more and more time in the UK in the summer as they grow.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:21:48

Sorry for sp mistakes. Small keypad on phone!

SquidgyMummy Mon 10-Jun-13 11:20:13

We live in France, DS is 2.8 and goes to french speaking creche but we speak English at home. He uses about 10 words although gabbles away in a made up language. He is currently being assessed by a child psychologist to understand why he won't talk, although he communicates very well (miming etc). She will then refer him to either a motor function or speech therapist.
His hearing has been checked and is fine, as is his comprehension.

DP is more relaxed about it than me and says he will speak when he feels ready. At the moment, we understand everything, so he has not real need to speak.

I am however looking forward to the psychologist's final assessment

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 10-Jun-13 11:19:06

No but had a clear preference for the majority language.....which was always english although its not Dh & mine's native language.
We speak 2 languages consistently and they are mow fluent aged 5 & 9.
We also speak our native language (arabic for which they now jave a god ear and make an effort when we are with grand parents).
They ate learning mandarin at school and naking goid progress academically.

My take on this is that they need an emotional component to develop proficiency.
They are really happy and confident giving it a go when in context (ie when visiting grand parents or with chinese friends at school), but unenthousiastic with us as practical communication is not relevant in those languages.
also, A telling example is that they can make jokes and say a few affectionate words in takaluk (philipino) because our nanny has been with us for years and is like a big sister and it matters that they share her heritage.

Hope it makes sense?

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Jun-13 11:12:32

Bilingual children are so different. I have 2 friends (one French, one German) who speak exclusively (including their dh's) to their children in their language. One friend's ds was a very late speaker. he also had an inner ear problem. Even now (age 5) he speaks English with a German accent despite living in this country and going to school here. He is much more comfortable in German. The other friend's ds was an early speaker, both languages but is more comfortable in English. He replies to his parents in English even though they speak French to him. He seems to have figured out that he's going to need English more frequently and just sticks to it.

LeBFG Mon 10-Jun-13 11:08:05

How is your English accent? Perhaps now is the time to do English at home and Italian away. How old is he now? My old prof returned to natal country with 6yo daughter about 12 years ago. I met them recently and she had a perfect cut-glass english accent. Pretty remarkable actually.

Francagoestohollywood Mon 10-Jun-13 10:41:02

grin. It was weird though, as the few words he had were Italian and with definite Italian sound (different vowels), but No was deffo English grin

Sadly we are back in Italy and my dc english accent is deteriorating.

LeBFG Mon 10-Jun-13 10:37:49

I think they all learn to say 'no' fluently in any second language. Weird that grin.

Thanks OneLittleToddler. It's interesting reading your experiences. DS is coming up to 27 months now and is learning new words and about a month ago started putting 2 words together. Nearly all his words are distinct to me but still very frequently incomprehensible to outsiders. He has some French words which he pronouces surprisingly well. Just yesterday he said 'bonjour' (doesn't even say hello in english!). He now has 'hot' in both languages and uses them interchangeably I think to show off hmm. Same with cat. He's been doing two days a week with the CM from 17 months so similar to your DS Franca.

I'm still holding off any judgement. I have a friend who is in a similar situation to me in the UK and her son is at exactly the same stage as mine. Plus another friend here, monolingual, who's DS has much less language than Holding off for the moment.

Francagoestohollywood Mon 10-Jun-13 10:07:15

Ds started to talk (Italian) when he was about 24 months old.
We lived in the UK when he was little. We spoke Italian at home (both me and dh are Italian) but the rest was obviously in English and he started going to nursery 2 days a week when he was about 14 months.

The bizarre thing was that before starting to talk fluently he had some words, some were Italian others were English. And he said NO like an English child would grin

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 10-Jun-13 10:02:19

Oh and DD barely speaks her second language. It's only the odd words used in an English sentence, and only if she doesn't know the english equivalent.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 10-Jun-13 10:01:34

lebfg how is your DS speech now?

My DD is brought up biligual but full time in nursery. English is also the primary language at home. At her 24mo review the HV said she should have 50 words and I should be able to understand her 1/2 the time. She wasn't at that stage at the time. She had more than 50 words, only one sentence. It is my xxx (ie my shoe, my sock). But the HV says that their speech usually have a breakthrough between 2 and 2 1/2. So if she's still not at the half comprehensible stage at 2 1/2, she'll refer DD. At 26mo now, I can understand her now 1/2 the time, and she's got two sentences. The new one is xx do it, like mummy do it, daddy do it, me do it.

I hear boys are slightly slower than girls. So hopefully this give you another slower speaker to compare with.

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