Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Raising a bilingual child

From before he was born, my husband and I decided to raise Joseph bilingual. I speak Dutch to him, my husband English (and sometimes Dutch as well). I read to him in Dutch and English, as does my husband. (the childrens books are actually just the right level of Dutch for him at the moment.) I think that I should probably stick to Dutch books and my husband to English but... I am so happy with Joseph's interest in reading that it is hard to resist when he enthousiastically drags an English book out of the basket and tries to settle into my lap with it. Even if it is the fourth time I have read "If you give a mouse a cookie" that day.

Joseph is very bright, but as is natural for bilingual children he has a slight language delay (which normally straightens out by age three or four). He is twenty months old and has an extensive enough, but not extra ordinary vocabulary (fifty to seventy words). He favors monosylabic words though. Ah.. for apple. "Wah" for walk. He has no problem with repetitives sylables like 'mama' "nana" and "woefwoef". He sometimes uses the full sylables like "banana" or banaan (the dutch version), but that happens for only a few words. He doesn't combine two words yet, except for "bye mama' "Bye woefwoef" or "hi dada"

While I know the benefits of raising a child bilingual, it's hard for me to deal with even this slight delay. I am so verbally oriented and I want to talk with him. I love to see his little mind work, I love to hear his ideas and thoughts. I know in a few more months I will probably be begging for him to shut up, but for now... I am grateful for every word. Especially as an alternative for tugging on my skirts and the repeated "uh..uh ..uh" that he tries to get something that he can not explain yet.

So.. is there anyone out there reading this that raises bilingual children or that has been raised bilingual? And if not.. what are your ideas on raising a child bilingual?


J+M+S said...

We would LOVE for Silas to be bilingual...neither of us are. Once he has mastered this language we will start learning together...probably this winter!:) So excited...

Wykate said...

His little neurons are processing furiously, and he is storing all this in his head. I have no doubt when he is four or five all your efforts will pay off!

Heidi said...

I am delighted to hear that you are teaching your little one Dutch too! That is so important that you share your own culture and language with him. He will be a richer human being for it and have a greater compassion for others too. So I take my hat off to you and your husband for this wonderful work you are doing with him.

Sorry I am not visiting regularly right now. I do think about you but pick only a blog or two a day to visit. Hopefully I will start feeling better in the coming months and things can get back to normal.

Hugs en groetjes ~

Penelope said...

I am also raising my daughter bilingual, both Dutch and English. I was worried because she barely said anything by age 2. I even contacted one of the leading authorities on bilingual education to get some peace of mind (Prof. Annick De Houwer). Now my daughter is 3 years 4 months. What a change! This week my husband even asked whether I pushed the "start button" on our daughter. She talks non-stop. If she knows the words in both languages, she will try to say it in both English and Dutch. "No no, mama is not tired. Nee nee, mama is niet moe." I do understand your concerns but I bet you that in no time you will have to take turns to talk.