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.