Episode 66: Q&A – Should I abandon one of our home languages?

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On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I take a question from a listener who is concerned about her son’s language development.  She feels that he is not performing at the same rate as his monolingual peers.  I give her some advice to encourage her to keep going.  I also introduce our first sponsor FluentU!

Episode #66- Transcript

Hello and welcome to another Question and Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast.

Before I get to today’s  question, am excited to share with you our first sponsor, FluentU!

As you know, I am a big supporter of making language learning enjoyable and interactive.  FluentU makes learning another language fun because it uses video immersion. FluentU takes authentic, native language content like music videos, movie trailers, news and turns them into language learning lessons.

Here’s how FluentU does it – you can watch videos in a given language and follow along with interactive captions! You can also enjoy language lessons and flashcards all based on a really impressive video library. I have personally really enjoyed navigating the FluentU content and I think it’d be a great tool to help you strengthen your target language with your children.

You can access FluentU for free on iTunes or your computer so you should definitely check it out!  You can also upgrade to the premium content for an even greater variety of videos. It’s available for anyone looking to learn Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese and English!

I’ll have all the links for you on the show notes page.

Alright, let’s take a look at today’s question. Let me read you what came in from Enne Marie.

Hi Marianna,

I am writing to you because I want you to talk me out of something.  I am actually considering getting rid of one of our home languages.  I know I shouldn’t but sometimes I just want to scream.  I see all my friends on Facebook bragging about all the wonderful things their toddlers are saying and it just gets to me! My son is 20 months and just has a few words. But according to what my friends are posting about their own kids who only speak one language and are either the same age as mine son or they are younger, my son would be considered behind!  I don’t know, I am frustrated. I know I should keep doing what I am doing but it’s just hard.  Sometimes I think he is not doing as well as they are because he is being raised in a trilingual home.  What do you think? Am I overreacting?

Appreciate your thoughts Enne Marie

Thank you Enne Marie for your question and for allowing me to share it with the Bilingual Avenue community.

Oh Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! It’s such a great tool for connecting with others but it can also be a huge source of frustration.  I can relate and I know many other parents listening in can as well.

Well you know what I am going to say right off the bat… Do not change your language policy because of Facebook or what others may be saying around you.  Facebook is just another distraction ad you have to find way to tune that stuff out.  We know that every child behaves differently and some children start talking earlier than others but it does not mean that your son is behind on his speech and language development.

Let me reference you to an earlier episode on the podcast. It was with Dr. Brenda Gorman and it was episode #4.  She broke down by age group what we can expect of our little ones.  She said that at 18 months, children on average are expressively communicating 4 to 6 words.  You said your son was saying just a few words but you didn’t mention how many.  But even if he is not exactly at the average of 4 to 6 words I still would not worry because between 18 months and 24 months a lot happens.  Children, again on average, go from speaking 4 to 6 words to 200 to 300 words! That’s incredible.  Imagine if we could do that as adults in just six months.

You still have four months before that 200 to 300 words milestone.  But even then Dr. Gorman said that unless your child is producing less than 50 words by the time they are two years old, you should not worry.  Keep that in mind.  Try your absolute hardest to ignore what others are posting, have some tunnel vision and keep talking and talking and talking to that little one.  Exposing him to and more language and you will see the results.  His brain is taking in what you are saying and you are going to be amazed when he starts to come around.

One other thing to mention even if it’s not exactly what you are asking but I think is worth considering, is that when it comes to counting words, all languages should be included.  In other words, if your son is exposed to two languages let’s say and he is able to name the same object in both languages, that should count as two words and not just one. So it’s really important to keep that in mind.  The show notes to the episode I did with Dr. Gorman does have a chart of what you should expect to see at each stage.  It’s a helpful chart and can serve as your reference guide. You can find that at bilingualavenue.com/episode4

Now here is just one more thought for you to keep in mind.  Many people love to embellish things on Facebook.  I’m not saying this is what your friends are doing but because people can post whatever they want, whenever they want it, you just never know what is true and what is embellished so it is really not worth stressing out too much about it, it just isn’t.  Many of us struggle with this but again it is just not worth it!

Alright Enne Marie, I hope you found the answer helpful. Again, Dr. Brenda Gorman episode is episode 4 and I really recommend that you check it out. I think it will get rid of a lot of the hesitations you are finding right now.

For anyone else, I also hope you are finding ways to turn off the noise and not let comments derail you from your language journey.  If you have a question, just send it over to bilingualavenue.com/contact and I am here to help.

Also, consider joining the Facebook page, speaking of Facebook for Bilingual Avenue.  I’d love to see you on there and connect.

May you have fun travels on your language journey. Hope to see you again on the avenue.


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