Baby L. is 18 months old

Oh, time is flying… my second baby is 1 and a half years old. In the morning she climbs down (legs first!) our double bed and in her sleeping bag carefully tiptoes  to her big sister’s room. She dashes to her bed and calls her name while patting her head. The sweetest little soul…

The description above tells you everything about Baby L.’s character. She’s loving, caring, getting more and more independent and full of energy. At the same time she is overemotional, she’s already showed some signs of her terrible 2 getting closer and closer.
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The best 10 things she can do:
1. eat with a spoon
2. drink from a cup, or with a straw
3. climb up on almost anything
4. put on a hat
5. wipe her mouth with a napkin
6. wave goodbye
7. blow a kiss
8. hug
9. pour water from one cup to the other
10. flip through a book

Favourite food: pasta, soups, sesame fish, fruity yogurt

Favourite drink: breast milk, almond drink, fruit tea

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Favourite activities:
1. walking around the flat and unpacking everything
2. carrying around my hand bags and pack ANYTHING in them
3. dancing
4. taking the coins, notes and cards out of my purse (or Daddy’s wallet)
5. rearranging her and her sister’s shoes
6. pushing the timer’s buttons on the oven
7. starting the dishwasher or the washing machine

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Favourite toys:
1. things with noisy buttons on
2. markers
3. swing

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Favourite books:
1. One mole digging a hole by Julia Donaldson
2. Tickle, tickle by Helen Oxenbury
3. Sometimes I feel sunny by Gillian Shields

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In the last 2 months she’s started to say a lot of new words both in English and Hungarian. She does babble a lot in her own baby language, but she says words that are REALLY important for her:

Hungarian words

hinta-palinta (swing)
Apa (Daddy)
tészta (pasta)
inni (drink)
pok (sic) (spider)
temtud (nem tudom= I don’t know)
ezt (this)
egy (one)
ketto (two)
hám (három=three)
mog (a mixture or the Hungarian “még” and the English “more”)
baba (baby or doll)
auto (car)
sakk (chess)

English words:

Mommy
pasta
out
more
book
wet (first it sounded more like “what”)
water
up
down
star
aer(o)plane
moon
eye
chin-chin (chin)
no-no (nose)
baby
keys
white
tickle-tickle

And more is to come…

Trying new words

Baby L. is very talkative. I wish I could understand what she wants to say but most of the times I don’t. She’s babbling a lot with funny intonations. She often sounds as if she were complaining, explaining some academic topic or cheering her favourite soccer team on.

However, more and more words and expressions are coming out of her that we also understand.

The funniest is a new Hungarian phrase: “nemba(j)” i.e. no problem. (I think I use it quite a lot when she messes everything up while eating, throwing thing down on the floor, or dirtying herself at the playground etc.)

She’s trying to say the English version of it too “no-pro”

Here is what she’s been saying recently:

L. 15 months words (2)

There is one new word that is missing from the chart above: one and “egy” in Hungarian. When we ask her how old she is she says one. So sweet!

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.

 

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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
     

  4. 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 that Hungarian.

  5. 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 (bumble bees, 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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 an visit my facebook page as well.

Enjoy!

    Getting familiar with the ABC

    I do not want to brag, but yes… a little I do. E. is so  interested in the letters and the ABC that, I do not exaggerate if I say, within a year or two she’ll be reading. In this blog post I would like to collect some fun activities we’ve been doing with the ABC.

    -Videos/Songs

    The very first favourite. E. was watching this video her mouth agape in amazement when she was 8-10 months old.

    The traditional one is always the best (Upper- and lowercase)

    A song about how to pronounce the letters – Phonic Song:

    Since the age of 2 we have been watching a lot of Mother Goose Club songs:

    She could watch it all the time. Sometimes she wants to watch them all day (if I let her).

    Magnetic alphabet

    I bought the first set of magnetic alphabet when E. was about 18 months old. She loved them at once.
    First it was just one pack of upper case letters. We used it on the fridge, but the letters always fell under it. So I had a magnetic word game at home (for adults, the letters are too tiny for little children) and I started to use one of its steel boards (You can also use a steel tray or a magnetic whiteboard)

    Then I bought another pack of both upper- and lower case letters later when we started making up words at about the age of 20-22 months. (Frankly, we don’t really use the lower case letter yet – age 2,5 years)

    At the very beginning we just put together the alphabet from A to Z. We sang the ABC song and/or the phonic song while arranging the letters.

    Adding the missing letters to the alphabet with Daddy

     I told her words starting with certain letters, like  E. for her name or D for daddy, M for mummy, A. is for our nanny’s name etc. As time passed I added some more words, such as E. is for elephant, egg, or A is for apple, ant and so on, not just names. I always tried to include things that she knew or she was really interested at that time. Within a few days she was the one who said the words: – B is for ball and bubble.

    Next, we made up short words she was already familiar with.
    Daddy, Mummy, M. (our dog), dog, cat, yes, no, hat, rat, egg, bat and so on. I have no intention to teach her how to read. She is the one who, from time to time, comes to me with the letters to play with. She’ll work it out by herself.

    Matching game with the magnetic letters

    What you need:

    • letters (magnetic, felt, play dough, cut out from cardboard, drawn on bottle tops)
    • plastic surface (e.g.: whiteboard, but I used an A/4 sheet that I spoiled while laminating. 
    • markers (not permanent!!!)
    • sponge or tissues to wipe the surface if you want to reuse it
    First, I wrote three words on the laminated sheet (also drew some basic pictures)
    I put the letters of these words mixed in a little container 

    E. came and emptied the container.

    And matched the letter. The interesting thing was that I didn’t need to tell her toe start from left to right.

    She wanted to do it with our nanny, too.
    When she got bored with it I wiped the surface off and at another time I made a new one with: yes, no, love, sun, hot, rat as you can see it in the photo.
    She had to start with her letter, E.

     It was summer time we last did this activity, and now sometimes she “reads” letters on her clothes or, some book’s title.

    Search for the letters – sensory bin (autumn)

    What you need:

    • a container
    • bark (you can buy it in a packet at animal stores)
    • small object connected to autumn in some ways (berries, grapes, apples, pears, twigs, conkers, pumpkins, leaves etc. What I did was I chose 1 bunch of grapes made of plastic, 2 apples made of felt, 3 golden leaves, 4 pumpkins made of felt, 5 real conkers.)
    • letters (wooden, foam, felt, magnetic, whatever) of A-U-T-U-M-N
    • a sheet of the object and the letters of autumn shown
    Throw the bark into the container and hide all your chosen objects in the bark. Put the sheet in front of your child and whenever they find something among the bark, place them in the right group, or if it’s a letter, then on the right letter.

    And the search can begin.

    This activity gives you and your child plenty of opportunity to talk about not only the letters, but also colours, autumn fruit, trees, leaves and berries, and in this case numbers too.

    I still have several activities, but I’ll need to come back with them in another post. Try them, enjoy them and let me know how they worked out.