Madeline is learning two languages: English and Spanish. Since Colin speaks Spanish fluently, we thought that he could be the Spanish-speaking role model while I was the English one. It’s amazing to see her respond to both languages. She definitely understands and distinguishes between the two.
We’ve also taught her baby signs, just as we did with Warren, so she can tell us when she wants milk, food, more, water, and can sign please. She’s even made up a few of her own, like requesting the song, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” The most interesting part is that she makes the sign for these words whether they’re said in English or Spanish. If Colin asks her if she wants more leche, she makes the open and closed fist for milk just as she would if I asked her in English.
But the actual number of words she says is still small. While Warren was talking in two word sentences by this age, Maddie has only shown interest in saying the following: “What’s that?!!”
All day long she points at everything and yells, “What’s that?!!!!” which sounds something like “was dat?!!” Sometimes, when she points at a person, you can hear a slight distinction. “Who’s that?!!!!” she wants to know. I can only imagine what she’s storing up for later. I have a feeling that she is going to be a chatterbox when she’s ready.
Dual language acquisition is fascinating to watch. There are many scholarly articles written on the subject, but I found one website to be a good resource in dispelling some of the myths surrounding early bilingual development. I wish we had done this with Warren from the beginning, as well. Now he’s learning, too, but at a slower rate since Colin doesn’t speak to him solely in Spanish. I hope that eventually, both children will be bilingual.
P.S. Educational psychology background aside, I am not the one who should be writing this post. Colin’s linguistic input would be much more enlightening, but then you’d have to wade through the theory. I didn’t want to torture you.