Mausi is now just about 17 months old, and the last 10 months or more have been fairly evenly split between English and German.  I try to speak to her exclusively in German, while her Papa speaks to her in English. He and I speak English to each other, so she hears that as well. I’ll still read to her in English and every now and then I will speak it to her as well, but more and more I find that I am naturally speaking to her in German.

She isn’t speaking much yet, although she does chatter away to herself and she seems to have a number of words that are just unintelligible to us.  Of the words we can understand, some are English and one or two are German as well.

It’s been fun thus far, and I do find that my German, at least, is getting some exercise. But I must admit that on occasion I have wondered whether she is getting any of it. Is it anything more than just fun for Mama?

Just about a week or two ago Mausi let me know that she was indeed absorbing it all, and processing it as well! As we go about our daily lives we’ve been introducing body parts…because I suppose that is what you do with a young toddler.  It wasn’t until I one day decided to run through a number of them with Mausi that I realized that she understood each of them perfectly in German.

I asked her where her Auge was, and she poked herself in the eye. I tried Nase and she tapped her nose. For each of head, hair, mouth, hand, foot, toes, leg, tummy and bum, all in German, she correctly pointed out each part.  She doesn’t say any of them yet, but she clearly understands!

To be fair, there are a host of other words and sentences she understands in German, but for some reason it wasn’t until we played around with body parts that her understanding German suddenly seemed so clear.

And that was the very encouragement I needed to know that my speaking to her in German was not in vain, and just maybe we would get somewhere after all.

This post is included in the March Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism hosted this month by MultilingualMama. For more information on the carnival check out the carnival page on Bilingue per Gioco.

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One Response to Starting out with Bilingualism ~ Early Encouragement

  1. Oh, I remember what it was like when I started speaking my non-native French with an infant (my nephew)–for months I despaired that it would have any effect. I felt like I spent hours in prosaic monologues about what we were doing and seeing, narrating, singing, reading books that he didn’t really respond to–and then it slowly changed. What a rush to realize that even before he could talk he could understand his Tatie in French! That was what convinced me to do the same with my own child two years later. And I’ve never looked back (though there have still been moments of frustration, to be honest). Good luck!

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