Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you that my daughter needs to be evaluated by a speech therapist because her clarity is below average for her age? I’m still waiting to get the appointment due to health insurance coverage issues. (No surprise here, huh?) Meanwhile, I’ve noticed something that left me in total awe and completely gave me one more point to validate her bilingualism.
As I’ve mentioned before, my girl has no problems expressing herself and is always talking up a bilingual storm. The lack of clarity in her speech has brought up many emotional issues of frustration when we don’t understand her. Of course, mamá is supposed to understand TODO, but that’s really not the case. Since she started going to a Montessori preschool two months ago, she’s been a lot more patient and creative in the ways she expresses herself. For example, the other day she wanted me to give her a “menta” (mint) but I wasn’t getting it. So she said and mimicked: “Grande, círculo blanco que pica.” Hilarious and smart. She’ll be great at charades!
A couple of days ago she was very excitedly telling me a story, but, again, I just could not understand one word in particular. I can’t remember the word right now, but the main point is that she immediately realized I wasn’t getting it so she repeated the word, IN ENGLISH. Ligthbulb moment for this mamá. Bilingualism helps, not hinders her speech delay! Get it? The fact that she knows two words for every object alleviates her feelings of frustration when we can’t understand her because she figured out she can just switch to the other language.
I can’t even begin to explain to you how happy, proud and amazed I was by this. One more brownie point for the bilingual mission, and one more bilingualism myth to dispel.
As a matter of fact, recent studies have found that infants raised in bilingual households can tell unfamiliar foreign languages apart and that bilingual speakers who rapidly switch between languages are better mental multitaskers than their monolingual counterparts. Qué bello, ¿no?
Wow! This is such a great discovery! Thank you so much for sharing, Ana!!
Thanks, Monica. It really was an intense light bulb moment for me. I had really never thought about it this way and now it makes total and complete sense that bilingualism helps her speech
i love your point of view and could not agree with you more! My son said virtually NOTHING intelligible until he was well over 2 1/2. He was evaluated and the frustration level ( on everyone’s part) was high. When he first started speaking it was mostly Spanish, but he did the same thing… would often use his bilingual skills if we didn’t understand a certain word. I am happy to report that he is a very well spoken Kindergartener and is intelligilbe en dos idiomas! Your daughter is one smart cookie!
Glad to know you know what we´re going through and how frustrating it can be for all. It´s difficult because she has a very extensive vocabulary and no problem expressing herself, so in her brain she can´t get why we don´t understand her. Very frustrating for her.
Thanks for the encouragement and I´m happy to now your little one is doing great!!
Love it! Kids are so clever! …
As a writer, I love having more than one way to say something – it’s like an artist with twice as many colors to choose from. I’m glad that it helps your daughter avoid the frustration that some might feel in her situation.
…by the way, I totally do what your daughter did in describing the mint when I can’t think of a word in Spanish. As long as you know enough adjectives, you can give enough hints for someone to figure it out. LOL.
Ja! Of course, you always find a way to express yourself when you´re such a creative being
This is great! I speak both Spanish and English but I’m finding that it’s a challenge to transfer over those skills to my son. He understands most of the Spanish conversation when he hears it, but he does not speak it.
It´s definitely a challenge. That´s why it feels so great to be part of this community where we can encourage each other. I´m so happy to read so many of your comments here and on our Facebook page lately.
The best advice is that you continue to motivate yourself to speak in Spanish to him all the time. Find playgroups and fun things he likes to do that are in Spanish. Movies and TV are also great, not as the sole teaching tool, but as part of your overall tool kit.
Me encanta! In our home it is the same, our daughter knows to try another language when we seem confused.
and she has three to choose from! Lucky her!!
Ana, I’m so happy to hear that the Montessori school has opened up her creative expression and expanded her patience when she’s not understood. That is a big step for her. It’s hilarious that she essentially used charades to get her point across with you or had the instinct to switch languages to be understood, but it shows a level of complex thought that I think many kids her age just can’t grasp. I think it’s all there in her head and that she can do it and understand, there’s just that clarity problem in the way. Whatever the case, I bet this time next year she will be talking up a storm in both languages and clearly. It seems like she’s adapting to her surroundings at school and that’s helping with her frustration issues. When you do eventually get to see the speech therapist, you’ll already be one step ahead.
Thanks for this post! It is amazing to see “prove” that bilingualism does not impact language development! ahhh THANKS! and it’s a cute story too!
Ana, I was in the same boat just a month or so ago. I placed my 2 years old boy in a daycare recently and I noticed how other 2 years old are already speaking with 2, 3 words sentences. He has yet to speak any clear words to me nor my husband. The daycare coordinator suggested that I should get a speech evaluation to find out where he stands. The psychologist and speech therapist both told me that he is where he should be, developmental wise, but since I am Filipina and my husband is Puerto Rican and my family speaks either of the two with English that my child is having a hard time with pronounciation. BUT that he understand what we are saying in all languages! If he was given a command in either of the languages, he is able to comprehend and follow it. So, I am in total awe in just the thought that one day, he will be talking to all of us and be able to differentiate who speaks what and automatically speaks that dialogue in that dialect! I am encouraging his bilingualism by buying all sorts of books in dual language format so that he will continue to develop this particular skill.
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