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Multi-Lingual Child

I love other cultures and languages. This is a love that runs in my family and has been cultivated by my family. For instance, my mother's father could speak 6 language fluently and could get by in maybe 5 or 6 more. My mother's mom's speaks Italian, and her mother came over from Italy. My mother majored in French in college and has picked up a decent amount of Italian, Spanish and German over the years. In my father's family, one of his sisters and his brother both married Filipino spouses. Although my dad struggles with languages, many members of his family speak English, Spanish and Tagalog with equal ease.

On all sides of my family, just about everyone has loved to travel. Londo's parents also love to travel and learn about other cultures, so there's definitely interest rom that side as well.

I can't wait until we are ready to travel to other countries with the Pumpkin and the Peanut. (What do you think? Is Peanut a good nickname for the boy?) I can't wait for them to understand and appreciate what other cultures and countries are like. I've already started introducing her to other languages and the idea of other cultures and countries. I've spoken to her some in Italian, read to her some Italian board books, sung nursery rhymes and songs in Italian and French, and played for her an Italian music and language CD for babies to toddlers. Our nanny is originally from Peru and teaches her some words and songs in Spanish. I must admit that TV has also helped, as she learns from Dora and Deigo, Ni Hao Kai Lan, and Toot and Puddle.

I've read that it is good to introduce other languages to children at a very young age. Not so that they can be child prodigies who are fluent in many languages. But for me at least, it's so that she hears the sounds of the other languages and becomes familiar with the idea of other languages. I was reading that often adults can't hear differences in the way some words are spoken in languages they haven't heard until they were adults. The ear loses the ability to distinguish certain sounds that it hasn't heard or needed to use before. So by introducing different languages and sounds to the Pumpkin at such a young age, she will hopefully have the ability to pick up languages later in life, if she so chooses.

She really seems to be enjoying and picking up on the other languages now. She seems to prefer the French "Frere Jacques" version to the "Are You Sleeping" English version. She also loves to sing a Spanish song the nanny taught her to the same tune. She cackles with glee and joins in a bit when I sing her the Italian song (I forget the name)about winter ending and May returning with the song of the coo coo--she loves the coo coo part.

Then one morning a few weeks, she was pretending to need help getting up while I was talking to the nanny before I left for work, and all of a sudden, we hear her go "ay├║deme" (Spanish for help me), which she obviously learned from Dora and Diego. The nanny and I just burst out laughing.

She also says "ni hao" (Chinese for hi) and "xie xie" (Chinese for thank you) to us, which she learned from Ni Hao Ki Lan. She knows some other Chinese and Spanish words for things like push and pull that she randomly throws out there. I need to keep working on Italian words, but I've kind of been slacking on that for a while. I used to tell her "nella bucca" when I wanted her to put her spoon/fork/food in her mouth instead of playing with it, and the Italian "bucca" for mouth sounds the same as the spanish.

As for English, my supergenius is exceeding in that communication for a 25 month old, so I'm not worried about any language delays or confusion due to introducing other languages.

Mostly, I just think it's fun to learn languages and have her learn them. And apparently, she thinks it's fun too!


Cloud said…
If I were a different sort of person, my get rich quick idea would be to make a set of DVDs similar to Signing Time, but for Spanish. I'd love for Pumpkin to speak Spanish, but my Spanish skills aren't so great. I didn't know much sign language, either, last year.....

I should probably get around to checking out Dora. But I've only recently made peace with the full on introduction of Elmo in our world!
Le Petit is learning English with me and French with everyone else. It took him a bit longer to start speaking clearly, but not anywhere outside of normal. He understands both remarkably well and is just starting to use them interchangeably (up until recently he used one word for things, either French or English). It is fascinating to watch.

I'm convinced that children who are exposed to several languages young have an easier time learning new languages when they're older. I'm just hoping I'll be able to instill in him an appreciation of English-language literature and a solid understanding of English grammar as he grows.

I hope he doesn't get confused when he starts learning the alphabet pronounced two different ways. G is J and J is G... I still get that mixed up, now!
Dedybear said…
Thank you! I feel that we as Americans don't often concern ourselves enough with the value in learning other languages. You rock.
we have been *trying* to teach babySaid to be bilingual... we want him fluent in both english and spanish... but since my spanish is not the best it is slow... He is also not a big talker so I hesitate to use multiple languages if it might confuse him.

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