Baby Sis – language development

L. turned 1 in December and her babbling and cooing is more and more like talking. Of course, we comprehend little, but she understands everything we say to her in both languages.

 

At the moment, baby L. is almost 14 months old. For a month now she’s been using sign language as a way of communication with us. She shows the sign of more, hello/bye, me, flashcards, where, eating, bird, duck, yes, milk, sleep just to mention a few.

On the other hand she’s started to say words, mainly English ones as they are much easier to pronounce than the Hungarian words. She loves words starting with b:

  • boob (well, she’s breastfed )
  • bra (her favourite word at the moment)
  • bray (for bracelet)
  • bú (Hungarian version of what the cow says – moo)
  • bee (for bib)

Also likes words starting with D:

  • dut (duck)
  • Daddy (more like daaaaa-dy)
  • dog

Whenever she sees a dog she says “vau” (sometimes more like “bau”), which is the Hungarian word for woof. (She looooves dogs)
She used to say “tej” (milk) but nowadays she’s rather been showing the sign or saying boob.
So far so good. Keep going my little girl.

 

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Baby Sis turned 1

I can’t believe a year has gone! L. has turned 1.
We celebrated it in the circle of our extended family. I made a cake that she could eat (chestnut and cherry cake without an egg), but also ordered a raspberry mouse cake for the other family members. Both of them were appreciated, however, the chestnut cake was all gone by the next day , the mouse cake wasn’t.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

A few words about our one year old:

She is still tiny. Size 74 is still a little too big. (she’s about 72 cms and 7.8 kg)

She is cute, cute and cute. She still smiles a lot, but when she’s bored, had enough or doesn’t like something she screams. She’s got a complaining tone of voice, which is very funny, occasionally annoying (mainly at dinner time).

She babbles a lot in a most varied way. She uses her hands to gesture and give emphasise to what she talks about.

No words, though. Sometimes we make fun of her when we can make some real words out of her babbling. But she’s trying. Words starting with ‘b’ are her favourite: book, boob, ball, bye. She calls them boooooo

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She says something similar to duck, dog, ball . But I can’t say these are clear words. I couldn’t make out Hungarian words yet.

Her intonation is fantastic. She can copy us perfectly.

She understands everything in both languages. (She waves when we say hello, or bye-bye, she shows certain signs like ‘finished’, ‘milk’ or ‘more’)

She loves music. Sometime she cruises to her old baby swing and turns the music on and starts shaking her little bum. She also loves it and calms down whenever we sing to her. She enjoys pushing the buttons on noisy books or hitting her tiny xylophone.

She and E. take a bath together and L. imitates blowing whenever she wants bubbles. She does the same when she sees a candle, though she can’t blow it away.

Flashcards are very popular with her. After having enough of eating she points at the cards. Her favourite categories are animals and baby objects.

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I’m really looking forward to this new year which, I hope, will have a lot of language development in store for us.

Baby books 0-12 months

When E. was a baby I wanted to write a post about what books we are using every 6-12 months. I didn’t. I feel it as a pity so I got a second chance with Baby Sis. Here it comes. The books we’ve been using in L.’s first year.

What you’ll be reading about:

  • cloth books
  • educational board books
  • touchy-feely books
  • noisy books
  • lift the flap books
  • +1 extra surprise

 

0-6 months

We mainly “read” cloth books. Or while Baby Sis was lying awake she was looking at the black and white images, like in this one. I also pointed at the pictures and said what was seen (daddy, baby, heart etc.)

It’s also important to mention that the Velcro on the book is TASTY. 😂
IKEA cloth books are great. Apart from looking at them I could make up a very simple story on the basis of the pics. They’re also interactive (you can pull out a rabbit from a black top hat)

 

 

Drugstore (DM) cloth books that crackle and rustle:

 

 
Maisy’s bedtime – We usually have a look at this booklet before bath time.
Ladybird series: Baby touch
The 2 on the top were E.’s favourite as a baby
E. as a baby, “reading”
L.’s favourite: Wiggle Jiggle Ladybird

It’s not an advertisement but I love Usborne books. Baby books by Usborne are simple, have great contrast and the images are cute. The touchy-feely books are not only pleasure to look at but also exciting for little fingers to touch the varied surfaces. Even my 4,5-year old loves to paw them. Here are what we have:

This is not the touchy and feely kind

 

 

 

 

Baby Sis is examining the fluffy bunny


6-12 months:

We on reading the books above and introduced some new ones:

Noisy books are number one (not so amusing for parents though after 15-20 minutes of quacking)

Old MacDonald will be a Christmas present

 

Lift the flap books are also fun to read with your little ones. My only problem is that they can get damaged easily as my kids try to peep under the flaps. Our favourites are the following:

 

Here is a Dear zoo song:
On this link you can PEEP inside

 

 

One of our favourites is this Animal hide-and-seek. You can see how fun it is in the video below.

 

And the extra surprise book with a hand puppet:

Five Silly Monkeys by Steve Haskamp
The traditional song with a little twist. Here is a review from goodreads that I could have written:
“This time five monkeys are silly and not just mischievous. They jump on the bed of course, then they eat on the bed, swing on the bed, slide on the bed, and then spin on the bed.

Great fun for little ones and they love holding the cover with the monkeys heads made out of plastic for them to feel!”
 

L. loves to put her little finger through the holes. Sometimes a sing the original version. Sometimes with the funny activities like jumping,, swinging, sliding etc.

I hope you could find some ideas about what to read with your little one. Feel free to share what books you’re reading with this age group.

FAQ

In the last couple of weeks I have bumped into a lot of mums who asked me similar questions about raising our daughter bilingual in a totally monolingual environment. So I collected a bunch of questions and my answers to them with some links from earlier blog posts:

  1. Do you speak to her English only?

No, I don’t. I can’t do that. My mother tongue is my mother tongue, no matter how high my level of English is. (High level of language command is relative. I always feel my English is deteriorating.)

I assigned certain times to speak English. When E. was a baby we had a timetable which meant that we used a little bit more English than Hungarian as she spent loads of time with me. Then we needed to change our schedule, still we had 50-50 % balanced language usage. (When she was around 2). Nowadays, (she’s almost 3) we are in trouble with the balance between the two languages as we do not spend so much time together therefore there is less English in her life. BUT! Her English basis is so strong that she asks for changing languages when she feels she misses one of them (it’s usually English)

Even today, whenever there are just the two of us she says: – Uh-uh, Mommy. We need to change into English. We are just two.
or
– I’ve already changed into English, because there is only Mommy and I.

 

  • When do you speak English to her and when Hungarian?

    There are many methods you can follow. What I use is a special one: I call it the timetable method. By now we don’t have a timetable any more. Whenever we can, we speak English, as the Hungarian input of the environment is too influencing.

  • When did you start talking to her in English?

    When we took her home from the hospital. At first, I was just singing songs and chanting rhymes to her in English. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing and it felt strange. Then I got some inspirations after having read some books and contacted some other moms in the same shoes. From the age of 6 months I’ve been talking to her in English just like in Hungarian.

  • Wasn’t she late with speech development?

    Not at all, although it would have been perfectly normal. She was about 1 year old when she could say 6-8 English words (and Hungarian ones too). Actually, her first word (bib) was in English. Of course, these words were fuzzy and not distinct for the untrained ears. But by the time she turned 18 months these words had become clear and a LOT more had been added to them. Not to mention, she started to build up 2-3 word sentences at that time too.

    I have to admit that the period between the age of 12 and 18 months was filled with more English sessions than Hungarian.

  • Doesn’t she mix the languages?

    She does! At first she didn’t, however, nowadays more and more. I’m not worried about it… okay… I am a little bit concerned, but I know if we keep up the balance between the languages she’ll have all the language tools in both languages to express herself. Most of the time she mixes Hungarian into her English because she doesn’t know a word or she can’t express something due to lacking a structure.

    Though it happens the other way round, too. She makes her grandparents puzzled when she asks for some stories with the telescope in it (mind you, pronounced it with a perfect British accent) or when she says she wants to play on the see-saw at the playground. Sometimes she names some bugs (bumblebees, wasps, ants) or plants (pansies, daffodils, shepherd’s-purse etc) she sees in the park in English. They can sort out this teeny-weeny language problem… for the time being.

  • What do you do when she mixes the languages?

    I keep on talking in the given language. I don’t change. And I do NOT advise you to let your child take the lead (although it is also an option.) I go on talking, let’s say, in English when she says some Hungarian words or sentences here and there. If I know she could say it in English I ask back: – What did you say? or – What’s that in English?

    If I am aware of the fact that she can’t express herself, I simply repeat in English what she said in Hungarian. Some sources suggest not to make your child repeat a word or sentence, yet sometimes I ask her to repeat just to reinforce we use English and help her fix a structure she cannot use (at all, or properly). Nonetheless, I’m not forcing it. Normally, she repeats expressions after me by herself. If she doesn’t want to, we move on.

    Also, you can pretend you do not understand what your child says, but in our case (we do not follow the One Parent One Language -OPOL-strategy; she can hear me talk both Hungarian and English) it wouldn’t work as my daughter knows that I understand and speak both. The other problem with this could be that your child can get frustrated if he or she can’t put an idea or a wish across.

  • What English activities/programmes can you take part in?

    We used to have a native British nanny for almost 2 years. I’m really grateful for her as she meant that I could have some free time (cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, cleaning etc.) while I knew English was still in focus in my daughter’s life. Now we are looking for a new nanny. If you happen to know someone in Budapest who would be interested I would appreciate it.

    I’ve organised a Mums’ English Club (MEC) in the library nearby, where mums gather with their little ones and chat in English while the kids play away. At the end of our sessions we sing some English songs for the kids. An afternoon session of MEC is badly needed but I haven’t had time to find a place where we could go free of charge.

    We’ve been taking part in the well-known Helen Doron School’s programme since E. was 10 months old. We are planning to leave it, but I’ll write about that in a later post.

    For almost a year we took part in a swimming course which was instructed both in English and Hungarian. We met there some non-Hungarian families who communicated mainly in English, so E. could hear during the swimming sessions that English is not just Mommy’s crazy language.

    We also visited Rhyme Time sessions (singing and playing in English) for a few times, but we do not go regularly.

  • Does Daddy speak English to her?

    He does. Daddy speaks a lot of languages, it’s no problem for him at all. What’s more, practising English regularly helps him improve his spoken skills as well. I suppose he also enjoys our English session;

    Again, at the beginning we did it differently. When Daddy arrived home from work we changed into Hungarian, but the whole day was in English. Nowadays, as I’m starting to work, E. is spending more time with the grandparents or she is in the nursery (not to mention that our native nanny, A. has left) we have been trying to fit in as many English sessions as we can.

    We have plenty of dinners, weekend programmes, playground visits, craft activities and bath times in English with Daddy. I’m very lucky, because my husband is very supportive concerning our bilingual project.

  • Can she say sentences?

    Haha. This has been the funniest question so far I’ve received. Sure she can. 🙂 Sometimes very complicated ones. I was really amazed when she said a passive sentence in the playground (– Look, Mommy, the other swing is taken) or when she talks to her soft toy using present perfect (– What have I told you?). One day she was replaying a Berry and Dolly episode (Gingerbread) that we watch in English.

    The following left her mouth: – I’m making gingerbread with the cookie cutter and then I’ll put it out in the winter (sic) to cold (sic). Magpie, (that is me) come and take it away.
    Later in the story: – Don’t take away that belongs to somebody else.

    Here is the episode.

    Not only her sentences but her vocabulary is also outstanding. I’m often surprised at how eloquent words she knows. The other day she called a pan saucepan. I don’t think I have ever used this word with herOr she can name different kinds of onions: leek, garlic, spring onion as well as varied expressions for the eating process: munch, chew, stuff your face, digest, feed, bite

     

  • How do you “teach” her (sic)?

    This is exactly how this question is asked most of the time.

    And the answer is : I do not teach her.

    What I do is to play with her in English just like in Hungarian. We do the daily routines in both languages. I try to prepare everyday and special activities for her which give us a chance to meet a lot of new situations:

    – experimenting,
    – prepping for holidays of the English-speaking world,
    – doing fun craft activities,
    cooking and baking
    doing housework together
    exploring nature
    reading books and singing a lot as well as watching videos

    These are just a few examples. In short, we LIVE our lives in 2 languages.

    +1. How shall WE start?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

So just start it.

If you want to get some ideas read through the blog… HAHA. Believe me, it’ll be much easier to find your own ways. But you can get some ideas here. (Feel free to search for keywords if you’re looking for something exact)

Start with some songs that you sing to your child while changing nappies or waking him/her up.

Search some videos online around a topic (cars, shapes, animals, numbers, planets etc.) that your child is interested in and watch them together. You can also explain what you see in the videos.

Learn some rhymes/songs with sign language and play with your munchkin.

Flashcards are almost always fascinating for children, but rather time-consuming to prepare your own home-made ones. On the other hand, our own flashcards are much more attractive to my daughter. You can find really good flashcards online, which you only need to print (and perhaps laminate).
If you don’t mind spending some money, you can buy some beautiful ones.

And I haven’t mentioned the endless opportunities that books offer to speak and practise a foreign language.

Again, these are some very basic ideas to start with your little one from an early age.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me either in the comments or via email. You can come and visit  my facebook page as well.

Enjoy!

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite

Our days are finished with E.’s evening routine:

  1. watching a little bit of videos
  2. taking a bath
  3. putting on the jammies
  4. drinking milk + reading out a fairy tale (or two)
  5. talking to the angels
  6. falling asleep

 

Most of the evening routine is done in Hungarian. This is Daddy’s favourite time spent with E. that I would not like to take away from them. On the other hand I don’t want E. to miss the English vocabulary of the evening routine. Not to mention the fact that reading bedtime stories only in Hungarian is a heartbreak for me. So every now and then (like 2-3 times a week) I try to convince my husband to turn into English. And it works brilliantly.

Let’s see the programme step by step (the ideal version):

18:45 – watching videos: D. sits down in front of the computer to watch some English videos with E: (the usual collection of E.’s youtube videos, or this idiotic Meow, Meow song in the Tamil language:

Don’t ask me why they watch it. One guess is E. LOVES it, the other is this is the way my husband rebels against the English evening routine – just kidding 😉

In the meantime I do some things around the house, preparation for the feeding, E.’s room, jammies etc.

If I happen to sit down in front of the computer with E., I prefer to watch a Peppa pig episode or The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton or one of E.’s favourite song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with the owl:


19:00 – taking the bath:
E. sits in the bath and the sea creatures are jumping in one by one – the crocodile, the starfish, the octopus, the whale, the turtle, and then an extra duck, some measuring spoons of different colours, sometimes a filter and more bottle caps. So she can hardly move in the water.

We usually name the animals, sometimes we attack her with the animals, and spay her with water, of course, while we comment the happenings in English. But mostly we follow what she wants to do.

Sometime she asks for her plastic book – one is a biblical story of the lost lamb, the other is Vizipók and his friends. I tell her the Lost Lamb story in English, we talk about the pictures, and at the end I ask her to show me the shepherd, the lamb or other things in the pictures. But I’m in trouble with Vizipók as I don’t know the names in English or they sound really silly (Ormányosbogár = Snout Beetle, Keresztespók= Garden Spider) so I rather hide this booklet when we have a bath in English.

Another favourite is Mommy Duck and her ducklings. Mommy Duck can carry 3 little ducklings on her back. When we play with the ducks Mommy Duck is swimming around E. and when the ducks are behind her one of the ducklings is taken off Mommy Duck’s back (by D.). In the meantime we sing 5 Little Ducks (well, three in this version). E. is so cute as she is trying to turn back to see how the ducklings disappear, but usually she is not quick enough.

Another activity is toothbrushing. E. asks for her toothbrush, then she brushes the crocodiles teeth while we are singing This is the way we brush our teeth. She also wishes to brush Daddy’s teeth or mine. Every now and then she brushes her own teeth as well. If she is not in the mood, I do it for her, which she doesn’t really like.

When we are finished in the bath we say good bye to the toys. E. hands me the toys one by one and we say good night to them. If I tell her to look behind because there is one more toy, she understands it perfectly and turns around the grab the object. While we are putting the toys away she is waving good-bye.

19:30 – getting dressed into pyjamas:

We usually play the changing table games I have already posted about. D. puts on E.’s jammies and sleeping bag. He usually sings some songs. I prepare her milk. E. turns off her light, only a bedside lamp is on. Then E. and I sit down in the rocking chair to drink her milk, and D. reads a story or two. If we read in English at the moment we are reading the book: How Mama Brought the Spring by Fran Manushkin. It’s for kids around the age of 5, but E. adores the pictures in the book. Before E. finishes her milk, D. says good night to her and leaves the room. Then we turn off the light and talks to the angels. I say thank you for the nice day and recall the lovely happenings of our day. E. often repeats the words she can also say like, baby, happy, her name or grandparents’ name, Daddy, Mommy etc. SO actually she thanks for everything that happens to her. Then I put her down into her bed (she says ‘bed’) and I give her dummy (she says ‘dummy’) and I give her a textile nappy and her doggy she always sleeps with. I kiss her goodnight and leave the room. Most of the time she falls asleep within 5-10 minutes. Sometimes she chats to herself a little. If it’s an English evening she talks to herself in English.

So here are some expressions how to say good night:

  • Sleep well
  • Sweet dreams
  • Nighty-night
  • Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite (you can find the origin of this phrase here – quite interesting, worth reading the theories. The one I like the most is the rope idea.)

Have a good night!