Did you experience delayed speech?

Billie - posted on 11/10/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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We have raised my son since birth to be bilingual. Now we are being told to focus on one language because he is delayed compared to the other kids. Has anyone else experienced this?

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Cristina - posted on 11/16/2009

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Let them talk! ... I mean the person that told you to concentrate on one language.

Do a big favor to your son, keep speaking two language to him!!

And also, it is well known from everybody that bilingual kids will talk a little later than the average monolingual kids, but when they talk they will do it in two languages.

All my kids started talking between two and two and half years old, so later than average. My forth and last son was delayed because of a problem of hypotonia and when he was 13 month old he did some speach therapy as well as physical therapy. His speach therapist never, ever, ever told me to stop talking to him two languages. We did the therapy for about 6 months and my son learned to be bilingual. Now he is almost 4 years old, he doesn't have any problem anymore and he speaks two languages as well as his older siblings ... and also now he can climb, run, jump and be a "normal" bilingual boy :-).

Besides, bilingual kids are more open to understand the different little "shades" of the two languages and they can play with the words in very many amusing and interesting ways.... I love to hear my kids!!

Be patiente and you will be amazed .... :-)

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Jennifer - posted on 07/28/2011

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Do not let anyone scare you about speaking two languages to your child. I have my masters in Spanish linguistics with a focus on Bilingualism and Second Language acquisition. There is no research to support that what you are doing is in any way "messing up" your child. It's just false, false, false. People have all sorts of opinions on this and it just frustrates me---just because you can talk, does not make you an expert on languages nor does it give you an insight on how language is passed on. Your son will be just fine.

Lizanne - posted on 05/29/2011

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Hi Lesley!
I just read this book called 'The Bilingual Edge' and essentially, it says we should all stop worrying!!! lol! According to all sorts of recent studies in this book, mixing languages is a sign that kids are grasping both, which is a really good sign! And the main message is to keep on keeping on, keep consistent, but most of all, do what is natural to YOU, and your children will pick it up naturally. School is a huge incentive for them to learn a language, and especially when they start making little friends, which is what's been happening with Mia. Her social life is blossoming, and she is incredibly social, so she is excited and eager to learn more and more words in Dutch. And, her friends help her! A child's best teacher is another child, they say.

We've been in the States for the past couple months and will be here through the summer, and it amazes me how she can switch between languages, depending on who she's talking to. I am no longer worried about her losing any English or forgetting any Dutch - she is clearly comfortable in both, which is more than I'd ever hoped for!

Thanks so much for the update - keep us posted!!!

xLizanne

Lesley - posted on 05/29/2011

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A few months later, but here I am again!

Lizanne, thanks for your comment/advice! I too like that you said "it's you that feels foreign and not her" - so true!

So Isabella is now 2 years and 7 months old. She is a bit behind in my opinion with her fellow English mates and definitely her Greek mates. She can say many words in both languages but doesn't speak in phrases or sentences. And she uses the language together - like, she will ask for "cold nero" - which is "cold water". I correct her, but she still says it. She won't say "cheese pie" - she will say "pie cheese" - again, I try to correct her (not by saying no that's wrong - but repeatedly saying cheese pie). She can count to 5 in both languages but never says the number 1 - in both languages!

She can say "there she is" or "there he is" so she knows he/she - but that's about the only phrase she says. She speaks in her own language - but a lot. Strangers do not understand her. I do but I'm with her 24-hours a day. My hubby doesn't understand her most of the time.

She will go to nursery school in September so I'm confident that she will turn on in the Greek language quick as it is Greek nursery. I just worry that she's too far behind???

There is also a chance that we will move to Sweden in September! But if we do, she will go to an International school where the main language is English.

Further advice?

Kelly - posted on 01/03/2011

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Lizanne said - it finally dawned on me: I'm the one who feels it's foreign, not her!!
Amen! Glad you feel confident again.

Lizanne - posted on 09/20/2010

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Hi Lesley - I am so glad you replied - this is such a fascinating topic to me! Ok, are you comfy?! This is a long reply...!

I just recently received the advice to concentrate on one language as well! After a three-month vacation in the states this summer, Mia (who is now 4) has stopped speaking Dutch altogether, which is pretty disastrous since she just started school!

Her speech therapist asked me to try - but only if I felt comfortable with it - to focus more on Dutch at home with her (and my son, who is 2 1/2 and not speaking a word yet!!) and minimize English to only a couple hours a day. When she asked me, it almost broke my heart. At the same time, I can see both Mia and Bram are frustrated and struggling and especially Mia is falling behind by not speaking Dutch... so I am going to give it a go.

It feels extremely weird to speak Dutch to my kids. I am afraid it'll will confuse them and Mia might think: why is Mama suddenly speaking a foreign language? I made a game out of it - saying things like (in Dutch): 'Mia, let's practice speaking Dutch together! Yaaay!' As long as I am positive asnd enthusiastic about it, so is she.

It's only been a few days, but Mia totally follows everything I say in Dutch and has even started repeating Dutch words and phrases I say! I am pretty amazed. She doesn't even think twice about my speaking a foreign language because it finally dawned on me: I'm the one who feels it's foreign, not her!!

Speaking my native language is most important to me when I express my emotions to them. I simply can't say 'I love you' to my kids in any other language than my mother tongue. But now that I have 'permission' to speak Dutch with my kids as well as English, I can help them with school projects, homework, sing Dutch songs with them, read to them in Dutch, etc. etc. - all things I wasn't 'allowed' to do before. I know this will really help them both in the long run.

When I read my reaction to this thread (back in January), I can read a lot of defensiveness... My fear is that she'll somehow lose her English abilities since I am the only one speaking it to her. But the fact is, the bond between mother and child is so intense, your native language will stick no matter what.

My advice at this point - do what comes naturally to YOU. This will in turn feel natural to your child, I'm sure of it.

Best of luck and keep in touch about how it goes ok?

Lesley - posted on 09/20/2010

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I wondered about this myself! My daughter will be 2 on Oct. 14th and my husband only speaks Greek to her and I speak English to her. But, when we are outside the house, like at my in-law's or out shopping, I speak Greek to her. I know this is not the right thing to do but my in-law's expect me translate what i'm saying to her in English all the time. I'm not a native Greek speaker either which is even more wrong because she will make the same mistakes I do! It's just frustrating having to explain myself to a 2 year old and then explain myself to the family even more!! How do you handle this? Also, my husband thinks we are doing the wrong thing in speaking 2 languages to her - even though she is saying more Greek words then English. She isn't putting words together yet either. Advice? xox

Lizanne - posted on 01/04/2010

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I am dealing with this right now and getting different advice from different 'specialists' - we're seeing a speech therapist this month for my daughter who is almost 3 1/2, and I'm very curious what she has to say. I really do not want to stop speaking English with her, although I've received that advice too, that she is behind and frustrated, so I should just concentrate on Dutch and leave the English for later. I don't agree! My mother-in-law, who has been a teacher for years, says my daughter needs to have one native language, not two, again I don't agree! She may get frustrated, but she can certainly make herself very clear!!!

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