Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, From Lina | comments Comments (2)

By 15th month, about 75% of babies are able to speak three real words, usually nouns, such as “cookie”, “ball,” and “dog”, besides “Mama” and “Dada”.

While to DD, it was a little bit different. She could pronounce “mama” and “dada” since month seven, while it was difficult to identify whether she spoke those words intentionally. She talked with us every day, sometimes by gibberish (plus pointing), and sometimes by single-or-double-syllable sounds. As to those words that are commonly spoken (e.g., dog, cookie, ball) by children at her age, we didn’t hear her utter them.

Why DD isn’t talking yet? Is she lagging in language skills?

That will be ironic, since I am running a blog showing how I raise DD with more than one language, and I did a lot of research in this field and tried all kinds of methods. How come DD is falling behind in her language development?

M told me not to worry, since DD is learning two languages as the same time, and since she is such an active child and quite advanced in other skills, especially big motor ones.

Really? I resorted to the parenting bible [ad name=”co-5″]for confirmation. It turned out M was right.

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First of all, according to [ad name=”co-5″], just because we don’t understand a word DD is saying doesn’t mean she isn’t saying a word. No matter gibberish or single-or-double-syllable sounds, it is her way to communicate with us, expressing her needs and emotions. So we should be patient and even lend her an attentive ear.

Secondly, the book clearly states that “if a family speaks more than one language at home, or if a caregiver speaks a different language to your toddler, the child’s verbal development is often temporarily slowed, though in the long run he may become fluent in both tongues.” That’s right. I, as the major caregiver, speak Chinese to DD most of the time, while the rest of family members speak English to her.

Thirdly, the book mentions that the natural verbal evolution takes place on an individual timetable. Some babies spend more time trying to engage those around them in social exchanges than they do trying to master physical feats, and as a result, they are usually early talker.

For others, physical challenges consume more time and attentions. These babies are often too busy in working on their motor skills to focus on communicating. They’ll tackle verbal skills later on in the second and third years, when their fast-talking peers will be focusing on nay physical skills they’ve neglected.

DD definitely belongs to the second category. For the last several months, she was busy in practicing crawling, pulling herself up to a standing position, climbing upstairs and downstairs, cruising, walking, trotting, running and dancing. It makes sense she didn’t make progress verbally as much as physically.

Therefore, there is nothing to be worried about DD. As long as I keep providing help (e.g. talk to babies in a way that helps them learn faster, create a language-rich environment for babies, consistently expose babies to the correct use of the language in many different linguistic contexts, and encourage babies to actively engage in interaction), I believe very soon she will catch up in her language skills.

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  1. 1
    Mike // March 10th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    This is our experience also. Our daughter KK is being raised bilingual (Chinese/English). She too seemed to be slow to start speaking.

    However, she is now 2.5yrs and speaking fluently in both Mandarin and English.

    We have lived in China for the last year and therefore she spoke Mandarin more at the beginning but after a short holiday in an English speaking country she is not speaking both languages fluently. Chinese people often comment at how clearly she pronounces Mandarin.

  2. 2
    Lina // March 12th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    @Mike: Thank you very much for sharing your personal experience! DD begant to say some words in English. It seemed it was easy for her to pronounce English than Chinese. But she could understand a lot of words both in English and Chinese. Hopefully, she will speak both languages fluenly, just like your daughter KK.

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