Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Alexander 18 months

Alexander is still impressing us with an increasing vocabulary...

As a result of his days with the babysitter, his japanese vocabulary and understanding is also increasing. The babysitter told me he says the following words to her: (of course, pronunciation takes some getting used to. It sounds like babytalk but after you hear it a few times you definitely can tell what he's getting at!)

Dõzo (here you go, please)
Itadakimasu/Gochisosamadeshita (what you say before and after eating)
Ochita (it fell)
Dekita (I did it)
Konnichiwa (hello)
Aruku (walk)
Pan (bread)

In English he has added some words. He now says:
Bye-bye (sounds more like "bye"... a month ago it was more of a "baa")

He has also started saying his name and his sister's name. It's very cute when he runs around the house looking for her and yelling "Leelia, Leelia." Or he wants to play hide and seek so he starts saying his name "Ale? Ale?" to let you know you should start looking for him.

In German, to be honest I am not sure if he has many new words because I'm not the one speaking German with him. I'll have to get some input from Roland here! But Alexander is quite good at saying danke and bitte (thank you and please). He also seems to understand papa quite well.

Lydia 3 years and 3 months

We are working on getting Lydia to speak in more complete sentences. Lydia says, "My water" (meaning: I want to drink some water please. ) and I try to get her to repeat her request in a more complete way. She's making some progress but her pronunciation is so bad and she gets really frustrated sometimes. Her "corrected" sentence becomes something like "I wannadana water, please."

We are going through the same thing in German.

I think her German and English are still pretty much on par with each other. She is very good at speaking with Roland in German. If she calls him on the phone, it's always German even if she and I were just speaking English with each other. She doesn't always know the correct word in each language. Today, for example, she was telling me why papa's shoes were outside but she didn't know the english explanation. She said, "Papa say LUFT". Ohhhh... papa said they needed some air. Ha ha.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alexander 16 months (September 2007)

I have been noticing that Alexander is much more verbal than Lydia was at this age. I guess it is a combination of him just being him and him being the younger sibling and hearing a very repetetive 3 year old sister. He uses single words... here's what he is saying now:

Yaaaaa - yes, Ja
Nai - no, nein
Panpan - any kind of food (comes from japanese for bread)
Juuuu (along with the hand sign)- any kind of drink (probably comes from juice)
Baa Baa - bye bye
Papa - papa, dad
Papa - cell phone (because he talks to papa on the phone! LOL)
BooBah - any button like a light switch or elevator button (come from "push button" or "bee-baa" - the noise the buzzer on the bus makes when you push it)
wawawa (with head bow) - konnichiwa, hello
Nahnah - good night
Mama - mama

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back from 1 month in the USA

Lydia's turned 3!:

We spent the month of July and beginning of August up to Lydia's 3rd birthday in the US with my parents. This was a great opportunity for the kids to get some more English exposure. Lydia and Alexander had such a wonderful time. And indeed Lydia switched from using mostly Japanese to using mostly English. I guess this is what I expected to happen because she couldn't get away with speaking Japanese and just assuming people would understand her.

Here are some observations about Lydia's language development during the month:

She started putting a lot of stress on the American "R" sound. ie. "Look Mama. Millie's caRRRRRR." "Lydia's tuRRRRn!" Before this, the "R" sound was more of an "Ah".

She started singing a lot of songs. Before now she only sung The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Zou-san (a Japanese song about an elephant). So I was surprised and amused when we were in the car and all of a sudden she was yelling (singing) "Da Warmer in da dell, Da warmer in da dell, Hi ho daderio, Da warmer in da dell" If you can't tell that would be "The Farmer in the Dell."
Then the next day she was singing "Heaaaaaaaaaad. Neezletoes Neezletoes, Heaaaaaaaad. Neezletoes Neezletoes." That would be "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."

She still really doesn't speak in true sentences. She uses a lot of words together but skips many small words. And example of her sentence structure: "Ball under mama papa bed! Ball way way here" (The ball went under mama and papa's bed. The ball is way under there. )

While in the US, I couldn't help but compare her to kids her age. In Japan I really don't have any English-speaking kids her age to gauge her against. I know I shouldn't compare but it was interesting to meet some kids even younger than her who were total chatter boxes speaking in unbelievably proper sentences. But then there were other kids similar in age to Lydia whose language skills in English were pretty much on par with hers. Interesting how much variation there is in the stages of language development, even with mono-lingual kids.

She didn't have a problem communicating with my parents. Well I should say that it did start out a little rough, but then my parents learned to understand her!

Roland wasn't with us for the first 2 weeks in the US. When he arrived Lydia immediately started using German with him.

Now for Alexander's developments:

At 15 months he has really become a pro at the signs he has learned so far. I should really add some more because I think he would suck them up like a sponge! For now it's just milk, eat, drink, more, please, thank you, sleep and up.

He started sort of saying "up" (pah) and done "dah" and drink "juu" or "duu" (which I think actually might be juice even though we rarely drink it).

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Japanese is taking off...

Ever since Lydia started going to preschool, her Japanese vocabulary is increasing in leaps and bounds (and over-taking her German and English). She consistently asks me, "kore nani" (what's this?) and "papa wa, inu wa, sensei wa, panpan wa" (where's papa, where's the dog, where's teacher, where's the bread). She doesn't ask me, "what's this?" in English. I know it will come. I think she is mostly immitating the other kids in the class. I am glad she is trying to talk more and that she is able to make herself understood at school.

When we talk about things if she uses a word in Japanese or German with me I usually say, "yes, that's what _____ says. but mama says ____." Today she saw some flowers and she said, "mama, blume!" I said, "yes, the flowers. Aren't they pretty? Mama says flower. Papa says blume." She replies, "Lydia say?" Ha Ha. I didn't know what to tell her. So I said, "Lydia can say Blume and Flower and Hana. When Lydia talks to mama, she can say Flower. When Lydia talks to papa she can say Blume. When lydia talks to sensei she can say Hana."

We played with our German/Japanese friends this weekend. Their mom is German and Dad is Japanese. Maya is 1 year older than Lydia. Maya was chanting "Asobo! Asobo!" to Lydia (japanese - Let's play!). Lydia understood what she was saying but instead of replying in Japanese, she replied in German I guess because she knows that Maya's mama speaks German with Maya. So Lydia said "Ja!" meaning yes. But "Yaa!" in japanese means no! So Maya kept repeating "Asobo" because she wasn't happy with the answer. HA! For the most part, they were communicating in German and doing so rather successfully. Though kids don't really need to use words to play... they work with what they have.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lydia .... gibberish

Usually she doesn't have much to say on the phone. Today it's another story: she is talking to papa on the phone and she has TONS to say. Unfortunately we have no idea what she was trying to say... it was complete and utter gibberish. She's using japanese sounds and rhythm so I assume that's what she is immitating.

The conversation on her side went something like this:
"Ano ne, shino nino ani nani. Neno nini. Mama door close. Ano ne, nino shini nananite. Rice. Milk. Möhre."

The "ano ne" is actually japanese. It means "you know" or "umm". The other stuff is gibberish. She told me to close the door. Then she answered rice, milk, carrots, when papa asked what she ate for dinner.

Roland said to me, "For once she had a lot to say to me. I feel so sorry I can't understand her. Poor girl!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Alexander 10 mo to 12 mo

I have decided to try Baby Signing with Alexander and actually stick with it this time. I did try with Lydia and she ended up learning 3 signs but then I basically gave up. The first sign we worked with for Alexander was "milk". I started signing it to him while nursing at around 8 months. At 10 months he started signing it.

At this point I added 2 more signs - "eat" and "more" - while feeding him foods other than milk. He wasn't signing anything except for milk but just TODAY (at 12 months), he started signing "eat". WoooHOOOOO! I'm so excited.

I think that continuing with the baby signing will help our trilingual family. This way mama, papa and the babysitter can use the same sign but say a different word. I'm hoping this will help out with the distinction between languages.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lydia 2.5 to 2 years and 9 months

Lydia's vocabulary has finally jumped quite a bit, but not really like I expected. She hasn't really added more words, but she has added them in more languages. Also, she has started to link more words together.

The biggest development is that I really notice her separating the languages. For example, she has said "Auto" (German, Car) since just before she turned 2 but wouldn't say it in any other language. Now she says it in English and Japanese too.
A typical sentence mixing up all three languages a few months ago was "Mite Mama, midori auto see" (Look mama, I see a green car.) Interesting that she has the tendency to put the verb at the end of the sentence like in Japanese.
Papa came home from work recently and I was talking about what we did today (in english) and trying to get Lydia to tell him what we did. She pulled out the thing we bought and said to him, "Lydia Kauf" (German - Lydia Buy). I had no idea she actually could say "kauf" because she only ever said "buy" to me.

Another example, we were walking in the neighborhood and passed a dog. She pointed and said, "mama! dog! woof. woof." Then she sees a lady coming toward us and said to the lady, "Mite! Inu! ii ne." (Look, dog. Nice!). She knew the woman was japanese and she should not speak the same way she speaks with mama.

Recently, the big change in Lydia's life is that she has been going to a japanese preschool for the past month. Her japanese words have increased in leaps and bounds. She frequently tries to sing songs and games that she learns in school. Unfortunately I can't help her with them because I have no idea how they go!

The teachers were immediately quite impressed with the amount of japanese she could understand and say. That was a relief to me (and them too, I'm sure). I guess they didn't realize she was actually born here, they thought she had just arrived and was brand new to the japanese language.

For the first 2 weeks, lydia would come home after school and babble in nonsense that sounded like japanese. It really did sound japanese but I know at least enough japanese to know that it was just sounds. She'd say "Mama, Ano ne, neno nano nini. baba nini nano nano." She would use her hands and gesticulate like she was having a very serious conversation with me. It was hilarious.

Now that she has been in the school for a few weeks, she can really communicate with the teachers rather well. It's still more of them asking her questions and her nodding or shaking her head. That's what it is like at home a lot too....

Her pronunciation is changing a bit. Last week she started trying to incorporate the American "R" into her speach. She was telling me to "Parrrrrrrrk" the "Carrrrrrrrrr". And she told me about a "Farrrrrrrrrt" (yes, the english word!) and because I am used to such poor pronunciation I thought she was saying "Fork". Duh.

Poor kid with stupid parents who can't understand her!

Lydia 2 years to 2 years and 6 months

Everyone says kids slowly get a few words here and there and then all of a sudden their vocabulary explodes. This hasn't happened with us so far. It has been rather frustrating at times. Lydia's language development is much slower than some of her friends. However she does have some peers who are monolingual and don't/can't really talk more than her either. So I have not been really worried about her language development at any point.

From age 2 to 2.5, her vocabulary hasn't changed much. The pronunciation of the words she does say is so bad. Really only mama and papa can understand her.... Her babysitter was telling me she feels really bad that she can't understand what Lydia is trying to say. I reassured her by saying that I couldn't understand her 90% of the time either. She babbles and makes noises that sound like words and she knows what she wants but can't actually say it.

I frequently resort to the phrase "can you show me what you want?" because I just don't understand what she is telling me.

Lydia 18 months to 2 years

First I would like to summarize the development of Lydia's language so far:

At 6 months, Lydia started going to a japanese babysitter once a week. Also, Lydia went once or twice a week to japanese playgroups with mama. This was her only exposure to Japanese for the first 2 years and 8 months.

Her first real word was around 18 months. It was "bear" or "bär". Good that it was a word that sounds the same in both German and English because mama and papa couldn't argue about what language she spoke first.

By the time her brother was born (21 months), Lydia could clearly say "baby" (again, both German and English). She said "Meelt" (milk, not sure which language).

At 24 months we had an 8 wk visit to the US. At this point, Lydia wasn't very verbal but she was putting 2 words together. Mostly she was using a few words that only mama and papa could understand. She said things like "Oh-dohs" (yogurt, not sure what language!) "Nein" (German). She made animal noises for many animals but rarely said their real name.

I wasn't good at documenting things at this stage, but I do remember that the pediatrician asked me if she was putting 2 words together and if she was, then she was within "normal" development. She said things like "meow meow, gone" and "No night night"

The few words she said were indiscriminately German or English or Japanese. Here's a list of things I can remember her saying up to 24 mo:

"Ba"- bus
"Ba" - bath
"Ba" - ball
"Beed" - big
"Auto" - german, car
"Panpan" - japanese, bread
"WanWan" - japanese, dog (from the sound)
most colors only japanese. The color red/rot/aka, she did occasionally say in either japanese or german.
"Mais" -German, Corn
"Mooma" - german, carrot (müre)
"Noh" (the name of her sheepy)
"No yike it" - I don't like it (very hard to understand)
"hayo" - Ohayo, japanese, good morning
"Eenie" - raisin, not sure what language
"Happy Doo-ha-ha" (happy birthday)
"Oh-ha-ha" - Elephant, from the japanese Zou-san
"Baum" - german, Tree
"HeeHee" - horse, from the sound it makes
"MeowMeow" - cat
"WahWap" - frog, from the sound

Our Family

We live in Japan (Fukuoka for 3 years, now Kobe). I am Rebecca, American. My husband is Roland, German. We have 2 kids, Lydia (Aug 2004) and Alexander (May 2006). This blog is designed to follow the development of our children's speach. I guess I should have started this sooner because Lydia is already 2 year and 9 months old. But a little late is better than never!

For now we are using the One Parent One Language "OPOL" approach. Roland speaks to the kids in German only. I speak with them in English only. They get Japanese from babysitters, preschool and friends outside of home. We are most concerned about the kids getting a strong base of German and English. Rebecca is with the kids all day long, so they naturally hear more english. Roland gets special bedtime and bathtime routine and very actively reads to the kids (especially Lydia at this point) in German only.