Small children are born multilinguists

Pristine and Benjamin

Hello beautiful people! Hope you’re all having a better week than I am. I can’t believe Thursday has come again. Work had been hectic, as always, every after vacation. You get that feeling that your body is at the work place but you somehow left your brain at somewhere.

And then the paper work just piles up.

The two kids are at home because it’s still summer vacation, at least for the next 3 weeks more. I spent two weeks with them at home this summer and though I get frustrated with things I couldn’t do when they’re around, I terribly miss being with them, to hug, cuddle and kiss them at any given time.

Pristine is excited to go back to school again, or at least, get out of the house and spend time outside without bathing in sweat. It’s still very hot in Dubai and humidity is at killer high. No outdoor life yet.

Meanwhile, Benjamin is turning 22 months in a couple of weeks. There had been a lot of changes. Like, he had his first real boy haircut.

Benjamin

He has become very playful that when he wakes up randomly at 4am, like today, he’ll motion me to peel myself off from bed and play with him in the living room. I’m having a grand time (no sarcasm) except that I really would love some decent sleep soon. Hmm, maybe in a few months more.

He seems desperate to talk, resorting to bird language…he sounds like he’s chirping the words, it’s so funny. He can make out words like papa, mama, bye, buh-bye, de (to refer to the boobies), de (again) for candy. What he lacks in speaking, he compensates on comprehension…in at least 3 different languages!

Ben and his nanny

I speak to him in English, mostly and he perfectly understands. I also use a Philippine dialect spoken in the south of the country, the language I grew up with. His nanny, who takes care of him until I go back home from work speaks Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, my husband talks to him in Japanese. ALL of these languages he understands by the way he reacts to what we say!

Some people think that exposing babies to more than one language confuses them and that it will delay his speech. But that is a MYTH.

Great read about raising a multilingual child:

Two or More Languages in Early Childhood: Some General Points and Practical Recommendations
Raising a bilingual child: The top five myths
Ask a Linguist FAQ – Bilingual and Multilingual Children: A Different Perspective

I admit – I’ve had apprehensions and thought of telling our nanny to only speak to him in English but held myself. And observed my son. The rapport between them is amazing. He fully understands what she says and he is not less comprehensive with regards to the languages my husband and I are using. He understands us too.

Now, we patiently wait what language he will use in his first complete sentence!

6 thoughts on “Small children are born multilinguists

  1. Honestly kids retain SO much more than adults when it comes to things like languages. When I was in 3rd grade, they had us in a Spanish class and when I hit high school and had Spanish years later, I remembered things I was taught from when I was in 3rd grade.

    Adults shouldn’t underestimate kids’ abilities!

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    • Right! I get so many comments that Ben is not talking properly yet because he is confused. I just brush off those comments. One way or another he will talk, in his own time!

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  2. Hey Grace! Glad you’re back ๐Ÿ™‚ We got here at the end of January and man oh man its hot lol I have a 23 month old and a 3 yr old and my 23 month old talks a lot but only in English. However she understand my mother tongue which is Gujarati but because my husband is not Indian like me, I cannnot converse with him in my own language so Sanya (23month old) understands me perfectly fine, just doesnt speak it! Plus my father in law is Somali so he speaks Somali with them and I can’t tell if they understand or not lol I just know they’ll be learning plenty of languages! They say to start young since their brains are like sponges, they’ll acquire more! I grew up in the US learning English as my 1st language, then Gujarati which is my mother tongue and then hindi which obviously I get from bollywood movies lol

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    • For all we know, your Sanya might be suddenly speaking Gujarati one of these days! I think that language is just sitting there at the corner of his brain, waiting for the need to use it. Good for you for debunking those myths that children get confused in a multilingual environment! Children are way smarter than we think they are!

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