When/how to teach a new language?

Preschool readiness skills (birth to age 5) and the common developmental concerns of young children.

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When/how to teach a new language?

Postby rondarooandxandertoo » Sat Jan 20, 2007 3:22 pm

Hi! I'm new here but have been lurking since my son was born almost two years ago.

We began teaching him ASL when he was about 10 months old, and his signed vocabulary is now probably close to 200 words. He has verbalized the same dozen words or so since he was about 15 months, but is just recently attempting other words. I'd estimate he says closer to 30 words now.

I'd like him to learn another verbal language eventually, but don't know how or when. From what I've read, this is a fine time to start even though he still doesn't communicate verbally much. There is no one in our family who speaks a second language fluently (I was fluent in Spanish, but that was a long time ago), so he doesn't have the opportunity to hear another language regularly. Once I taught him all the ASL signs I knew, we switched to Signing Time DVDs, which he LOVED and we both learned a ton. Is there a good foreign language program on DVD that is geared towards 2-year-olds? Or is there a better way, since I'd prefer to limit his TV time.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Ronda and Xander, 20 months

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Re: When/how to teach a new language?

Postby Ramona » Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:34 pm

I have always used a certain amount of Spanish around the house and taken my kids with me when I hang out with my Spanish-speaking friends. I listen to music in Spanish and some friends even gave my big kids some storybooks in Spanish when they were toddlers.

I started officially trying to teach them the language when they were about 5 or 6. They had fun with it but certainly didn't start speaking it themselves. After a while we added ASL and German. Eventually we let foreign languages go for a year or two.

When we started again I let them each choose a language (French, German and Russian) and study independently with various curricula. They all get good scores, but trying to get them to carry on a conversation in their languages of study is like pulling teeth. They all say they don't really know the languages yet.

Then the summer that the kids were 15, 14, 11, 4, and 2 I got hooked watching a Spanish telenovela every night. The kids gradually drifted in until by the end of its run we were all totally scheduling our lives around that stupid show! :oops:

One night when I got home late and asked what was going on, they all started telling me. But the thing that surprised me was they were not just giving me a general idea of what they'd seen and a few words they'd picked up. They were quoting dialogue word-for-word (but in English)! I said, "Hey, you don't speak Spanish! How do you know that's what they said?"

It turns out they've been absorbing more than they or I thought. So now we watch Spanish TV quite a bit and they understand it fine. We even went to a church service in Spanish a few months ago and the people gave them headsets so they could hear an English translation but they didn't need to use them.

I think immersion works better than book-study. If you know anyone who speaks the language you want to teach, have the child spend time listening to them. I think they can start any time.


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Postby momo3boys » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:03 pm

two word of advice, be careful not to confuse a child when they are still learning a language. If they are having a hard time with english, make sure they know it well before going onto another language. Second. thebest book out there for language is the DK publishing books "my first _____ word book" i lthink is the title, great pictures, not drawings of just about everything you need to know,

I guess i have a third suggestion, you might want to think about using a new spanish word a week, start with manners, then maybe something that your family says a lot, like "follow me", or "Let go" just integrate it into what you already do. they will learn, without realizing it.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

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Postby Ramona » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:36 pm

Yes, we started with Gracias (thank you) and built on that with things like the days of the week which I have the kids tell me each morning in English anyway.

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Postby mdsmomct » Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:44 pm

We started at about 14 months when ds had a large vocabulary of over 100+ words and he knew numbers, letters, colors, etc in English.. We started with counting to 10 in Spanish, then we did colors, then shapes, then slowly introduced other words. We also used the DVD Brainy Baby Spanish- it teaches basic words and some verbs in a pleasing way for toddlers.

I would say when they have a good grasp of English and know a lot of the basic concepts they are ready. Plus, I only had 4 years of Spanish from high school but I am amazed how much of it comes back- so if you were fluent once it will come back believe me.

Another thing we have is some CD's by Beth Manners for ages 2-6- Fun with Spanish and Playtime Spanish. DS loves listening to them in the car and he picked up a lot of words - weather and the alphabet and several phrases. He is 2.3 now and knows enough Spanish that he mixes both English and Spanish and he is still learning.

We also have the DK book my first Spanish word book and he loves looking through it. I use it to find new words to teach him. HTH

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Postby Mark » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:28 pm

we've just gotten started with Spanish.. I'm not much involved in it
yet due to my scheduling etc, but they are coming along.
The main thing was that I didn't want to wait any longer because I
realized that it would be harder for them to pick up as they got older.
AS it is, I wish we had been able to work with them on it a few years


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Postby rondarooandxandertoo » Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:20 pm

Thank you for all the suggestions! LOL about learning from the telenovela! I bought one video that should arrive in a couple weeks, ordered the DK My First Spanish Word book, and have begun saying words in Spanish as I think of them. That will be hardest part... training ME to be consistent! I'm sure it will get easier though, just like it did with ASL.

I'm not too worried about confusing him. Last week I met a 15 month old who is learning three languages -- ASL, English, and Korean. Her mom says her daughter uses all three interchangeably to communicate. No one outside the family would understand her because her phrases are a mixture of the three, but it is clear that she is learning all three and the languages will get sorted out eventually. She is our inspiration!

Thanks again,

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