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Author Topic: Bilingual toddler: When to start with picture cards in second language?  (Read 24526 times)
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Ted Lundgren
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« on: June 15, 2014, 05:44:45 PM »

I am a Swedish native fluent in Russian and my wife is a Belarusian native fluent in Swedish. Together we have a wonderful 19 months old daughter. However, our daughter seems to be a bit confused by the two of us mixing the languages at home. Now, she has started speaking words in both languages, almost like that guy in the 80's movie "The name of the Rose" who knew all languages and yet no language since he mixed them all up. Research suggests that parents should strictly adhere to their own native language when conversing with their toddler. Now we're trying to mend this mistake. However, since I have also created a lot of Doman cards and slide shows for her in Swedish, where progress has so far been immense, the question naturally arises: When should we start introducing cards in Russian? Would you recommend using bilingual cards, i.e. cards with a picture of, say, an animal + its name in Swedish and on the backside the same word in Russian?

I know that there are many people with bilingual children on this forum, which is why I ask: How did you handle the situation out there?


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Mandabplus3
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 10:29:24 AM »

I am a little confused. What language are each of you speaking to you daughter? Are you speaking Russian and your wife speaking to her in Swedish? What do you speak to each other in? If you are both speaking to her in just one language each she will figure it out. Once you think she has the first one to an understanding what you say level them begin speaking in another one.
I would be less concerned about your daughter mixing up languages. She is learning to speak and learning to understand. Mistakes are perfectly natural. She will figure it all out. To help her you could introduce her to someone who only understands one of the languages she speaks for a play date. This may be more useful as a technique later but it takes some time usually to find a suitable candidate ( perhaps a relative? Skype?)
If she is speaking to you and using your wife's language, then correct her. If she is speaking to you both and using both languages I would let it slide. Children are much smarter than we give them credit for she can learn to sort out many more than the few languages you are giving her.
As for when to start the next one, well I would say now. Or at least soon. Since you are teaching languages that you are fluent in you can use any combination of words, pictures, cards, music and books. Your consistency will bring results from many methods.
There are many others on this forum with more experience than I so hopefully they chime in. Overall thought the general consensus is to keep teaching and worry about the mix ups later. They all sort themselves out with time and practice. Keep going you are doing a great job!

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Liesel79
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2014, 11:29:16 PM »

Hi!
Nice to say hej och välkommen to a fellow swede!
I remember having these worries and questions. I speak Spanish with my boys (just turned 3 and just turned 1), my husband speaks Persian to them (our native languages) and we speak Swedish with each other (we speak Swedish as good as our mother tongue, since we both grew up in Sweden, Umeå!)
My 3 year old started Nursery 3 times a week when I went back to work part time when he turned 1, so he learned English there.
He did say many words in mainly Spanish and Persian from around 18 months old but started speaking properly at around 2 years and 3 months, in long sentences and in 3 languages, all of the sudden. By then, he did not mix the languages. We were so amazed by how he would tell something in Spanish to me and then he would turn and tell the exact same thing in Persian to his dad. Or in English to an English friend. We are still in awe about how well he speaks all the languages and how
he doesn't mix. I thought he would be confused by the Swedish he hears between us, but he is just fine. He might even understand Swedish as he sometimes says 'no mommy I don't want to sleep' to me in Spanish if I tell hubby in Swedish that it's time for them to sleep Wink

Nobody speaks Swedish to him yet, but we plan on teaching him Swedish soon.
 Consistency has been the key. Although I do read him English books as well as Spanish, and teach math etc in English as we live in London, I otherwise only speak Spanish to him and his dad only speaks Persian to him. 
I started with LR when he was 16 months, there was no Spanish curriculum then but I did download the extra stuff and showed it to him, although not as consistent as the English LR. I am showing now both English and Spanish to his little brother, just at different times of
 the day. He has not started nursery yet so he has not been exposed to English much but I do want him to learn to read in both English and Spanish so I continue with both, as recommended by so many other with more experience.
I was not as consistent as I wish I had been with DS1, and since I mainly taught him in English which was not his strongest language back then, I wonder if that caused him to not start reading as early as he could have. He was around 22 months when he started reading out sight words and he chooses the right words on the "games" section always but is still refusing to read to me. I think he can more than he wants to show, but we will see in time. I'm hoping little brother might start earlier as I'm showing the Spanish curriculum too which is more familiar to him. And I'm reminding myself that it's not the results, it's the input that matters.
Hope this helps.

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velvetkatze
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 11:28:04 PM »

I am Russian living in UK. I found out about Doman Method when my girl was about 18 months, and I started trying bits and pieces since then and we started LR and LMusician from about 2y.o. I am the only person who speaks Russian to her and from 6 months till 18 months she was at childminder 3 - 4 days a week, so she had very limited exposure to the Russian language.
I am at home with her from 18 months and was speaking English and Russian to her not sticking to OPOL rules, simply because I wanted to enrich her English using words in my speech that people don't normally use when talking to babies and small children, so I didn't want to leave her speech development to a childminder or school (or my husband who has a very limited time with her every day) because ( 1)a child’s vocabulary growth is directly linked to his or her overall school achievement, 2) the size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts his ability to learn to read, 3) the more words a child knows, the more information the child has access to etc. - you can read great article here:  http://www.hanen.org/SiteAssets/Helpful-Info/Articles/build-your-childs-vocabulary.aspx)
She's now 3,5 y.o and everyone in preschool thinks she's starting school this September - her English speech and communication skills are that good. On the down-side she is only now starting to speak in full sentences in Russian (that said - in several months only she made and keeps making huge progress). So I am satisfied with her English for now and will start excluding it from my everyday communication with her.
For English reading we used home-made cards first, then I bought LR. For Russian reading we're using cards and DVD with pictures only. I think it's best to keep one language to one medium and another to a different one. Although occasionally when there's a picture of something interesting I would name it in both languages, as we read tons of English books from the library and there's not ever enough of Russian books to read to cover all the topics.
For Russian we use BITs cards and reading cards from www.umnitsa.ru - they are a great time saver, and they have different methodics as well, which we use too, there's tons of materials on their forums as well.
I have a second child now - 5 months old and the only thing I'd change is to start earlier and be more consistent in lessons - I had massive ups and downs and break-up of the lessons for a very long periods of time with my first child for various reasons. I'll still keep LR only for English and printed materials mainly for Russian. We're currently doing both with the baby. And once both languages are more or less established I'm introducing Spanish, as I can speak it as well and a third language would be a big plus - the older one is already picking up some French at pre-school but I don't speak it, so better stick to Spanish :-)

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Teresa Conte
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2014, 11:34:10 AM »

Velvetkatze, I have a question for you!
You have  explained very well your reasons for choosing to speak English to your child instead of your mother tongue, I am doing the same with my child, I speak English but I am a native italian speaker, just I am doing it for the sake of giving my child the benefits of being bilingual. We live in Italy and she will attend italian schools ( because I can't afford international ). I feel like my choice to use english will make it more difficult for her to achieve good results in italian schools, as I am not providing her with an extensive and thorough italian language exposure ( that I am sure I could provide, being fairly well educated), and as you pointed out child care givers cannot usually be untrusted with widening a child's vocabulary. How can I make sure that my child still gets enough italian language ( good, high level) exposure while not giving up on english? Do you have suggestions

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velvetkatze
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2014, 08:44:44 PM »

Hi Teresa
depending on the age of your child and his/her interests - there should be lots of things to try out. Here in UK lots of museums have children's sections where young children will be exposed to higher standard of native language, there's even a few museums only for children that are highly educational. Some times you can find science playgroups to go to together and this could be an "exception day" when you speak Italian. Also - you can just reserve one day in a week to speak Italian ONLY to your child.
If you hear a word that you think would benefit your child - repeat it in English then say in "in Italian it's .... " few times. Then continue speaking English. If you do frequent trips in the car - put the local radio on, and occasionally repeat "beneficial" words as you hear them. I usually "talk to myself" something like "oh, they said "mechanical" - that's a good/interesting word" (and explaining to myself what that word means) then keep speaking English as if nothing happened - and lo and behold - few days/months later she repeats this word in conversation. Stories on CD's work well, especially if they are mixed up with songs. Choose stories that are slightly higher level than your child's speech, and listen to the same one as many times as it's requested - repetition is the key. Your local library should have lots of these for hire. If something interesting happened during the day, ask your child to re-tell it to another family member or to a toy in Italian (because they don't speak/understand English ;-) - works most of the time), and at this time help with choosing words if you see him/her getting stuck. You can choose a special cartoon "treat" with a developmental cartoon (with lots of talking, as some cartoons are very poor on language) in Italian slightly higher then your child's level of speech/understanding. My girl is only allowed to watch 3 cartoons on English TV (we record some of them, as the screening time is not convenient) they are all quite educational. Favorite one is Octonauts (children usually older then her watch it) where she picks up a lot of good language and info about marine animals. I am sure you can find something similar in Italian.
If you have favorite relatives living far away - you can let your child Skype them in Italian. You can subscribe to an Italian magazine for older kids and this should be read to your child often by another member of the family or by you on your "weekly Italian day". We subscribe to a monthly nature magazine for kids, and occasionally buy a magazine with a theme of a favorite cartoon, where I ask her to re-tell me a story that she saw on TV and describe what she's doing.
Hope this helps :-)
I think you shouldn't worry about saying an Italian word here and there, as the majority of your speech will still be English.

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oasis
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2014, 06:19:31 PM »

I'm sure I posted yesterday but I do not see my post. Anyway.

Velvetkatze, I'm in a similar situation. I'm Russian who lives in the US. I chose not to follow OPOL for the same reasons that you did. We also have and read many more books in English than in Russian. I'm concerned though that my son will not be willing to speak Russian. He just starter saying single words (he is 2 yo). Out of about 40 words he can say, only 6-8 are Russian words, the rest are English words. Did you have the same with your daughter? How did you encourage her to speak Russian?

I have a number of Russian friends here. And those who did  not follow OPOL, have a hard time encouraging their kids to speak Russian. Basically, the mother speaks Russian to a kid, and the kid responds in English. They say it's either this, or they have to fight over language every time they talk. Do you  notice any resistance from your daughter to speak Russian? I would think that it is easier for her to express herself in English. How do you encourage her to speak Russian?

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Liesel79
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 07:29:58 AM »

I'm by all means not an expert and I'm speaking mainly from my own experience. I would just think it's so sad if my child didn't speak my mother tongue, specially as it's such a useful language.
The way I see it, the language spoken where they go to school and live takes over at some point. I've seen it so many times, even kids who initially spoke their mother tongue, end up much better in the country's new language, because of friends and school.
I moved to Sweden with my family when I was ten years old. It took me only 2-3 months to start speaking Swedish, and I did very well at Swedish school, entering IB and later Medicine school at 18, which is very competitive in Sweden. Everybody thinks I was born in Sweden because of my Swedish skills. My brother was born in Sweden and much rather speaks Swedish than Spanish.

My point is, to achieve a good level in all languages, I think it's easier to solidify the country's language reading appropriate books and such with the kid at home every day, speaking the mother tongue otherwise, resulting in a very good level of both languages, than neglecting the mother tongue and ending up not speaking it properly. As the language where they live will take over anyway sooner or later. But that's just how I feel.
Kids are so clever, I am very confident my boys English (which at the moment is as good as any other 3 year old but not as good as his Spanish or Persian) will progress to the right level as soon as he starts school (with help from home) and I'm hoping he will continue to speak Spanish and Persian as well as now.
Time will tell. We all do the best we can.

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Liesel79
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2014, 07:30:54 AM »

I should add we now live in the UK

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velvetkatze
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2014, 01:26:35 PM »

I'm sure I posted yesterday but I do not see my post. Anyway.

Velvetkatze, I'm in a similar situation. I'm Russian who lives in the US. I chose not to follow OPOL for the same reasons that you did. We also have and read many more books in English than in Russian. I'm concerned though that my son will not be willing to speak Russian. He just starter saying single words (he is 2 yo). Out of about 40 words he can say, only 6-8 are Russian words, the rest are English words. Did you have the same with your daughter? How did you encourage her to speak Russian?

I have a number of Russian friends here. And those who did  not follow OPOL, have a hard time encouraging their kids to speak Russian. Basically, the mother speaks Russian to a kid, and the kid responds in English. They say it's either this, or they have to fight over language every time they talk. Do you  notice any resistance from your daughter to speak Russian? I would think that it is easier for her to express herself in English. How do you encourage her to speak Russian?

yes we have that "talking back in English" problem. But it's getting better. When I am sure that she knows how to say something in Russian - I don't react to what she's saying in English, just keep saying "in Russian please, I will help you if you get stuck" and then I start the sentence for her . Quite often she is stuck, and I am giving her words to continue, which she very carefully (most time incorrectly) repeats. It is getting better. Quite often she is stuck on grammar, as it's not like in English - verbs change - conjugation, time, who or what we're speaking about etc, so even if she heard the word said by me (2nd person) or about 3rd person, she doesn't know how to apply it to the 1st person, so I say something as if she's saying it. She repeats. It just takes time I think. She's not "resisting" as you say, I think it's just not a 1st choice in the brain, so I just have to persevere.
The best one for us so far was watching favorite cartoons in Russian and singing introduction songs (I help her out with missing words) and also we have some Russian books with buttons with songs or kids poetry (Barto, Chukovski etc.) - she learns them by heart and enjoys repeating phrases. I also started reading mostly only Russian books. (there are few exceptions, of course) If she asks to read an English book, I say that I only read Russian books and would she like to read one.

It's very difficult for her to speak russian when she's very tired, so in those cases I don't make her not to put her off, I just keep my side of the conversation in Russian.
But it's quite good that your son have already started to say Russian words. Just keep "giving" them to him when he says English word, so when he says "dog" don't say "No, it's sobaka, not a dog" just say "da, ty prav, eto sobaka". It'll all work out, I am sure. As I said - my daughter is getting better. You can also choose a toy which would "only speak Russian" and "doesn't understand English at all". We have Cheburashka and Masha from Masha i Medved' cartoon.

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Ted Lundgren
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 04:19:04 PM »

Ok, so I have decided to buy all three products (LR, LMa, LMu) plus the curriculum in Russian. My daughter really loved the trial versions. But then the one million dollar question is: As far as Little Reader is concerned, would it be best for me to translate one lesson every day (including recorded sound etc.) into Swedish and run it with her? Would this be enough or should I run the same lesson in Russian and English, too, one after another? Or should I perhaps wait with Russian and English until the one year curriculum has passed and we've already gone through all lessons in Swedish? I saw a Youtube video with a 3,5 year old Brillkid girl who was reading simultaneously in 5 languages, but is this really something to recommend?

What do you think?







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oasis
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2014, 08:13:19 PM »

Thank you, velvetkatze!

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kidsislandnur7
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2014, 10:40:11 AM »

I recently moved to Dubai and hope that my daughter will continue to speak in English at the Kid’s Island and Cocoon Nurseries in Dubai.

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Kid\'s Island and Cocoon Nurseries are one of the longest established nurseries in Dubai
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