Since my last post, my daughter’s language has taken a huge leap. I don’t plan to provide quarterly updates on her language development, but so much has changed in the last 3 months that I felt compelled to share again.
Almost everything I wrote about the last post has changed! She stopped flipping consonants in Spanish, started saying Y and W sounds, corrected from K to H for the J sound, and started saying “eh” or “ah” at the end of verbs instead of T. Although I’m so proud and fascinated by the changes, I have to admit I was a little sad when she started saying “ee-ma-hee-nah” for “imaginar” instead of “makinat”!
In addition to her clarity in speech, over the last 3 months she’s gone from 3 or 4 word phrases like “mama pone luz” (“mama turn on light”) or “dada give you fruta” (“dada, give me fruit”) to complete sentences and stories. At first she would use longer phrases she had learned. I was taken aback a couple months ago when she said “mamá, can I please have a piece of plátano (banana)?” but I realized she had been taught to ask like that at daycare. But these days she uses sentences that long regularly, all of her own invention.
My favourite is the way she has learned to inflect her sentences while telling stories. It’s hard to describe in writing, but I suppose it goes something like this: “ONE day, ME and mama, went to the FARM and a GOAT [tried to] eat mama’s LACES!” (followed by rolling laughter, of course!).
Switch to English
It is clear that my daughter’s comprehension of Spanish is just as strong as English. She has no problem understanding anything I say in Spanish, she will use Spanish when I ask her to, and she can easily answer the question “how do you say that in Spanish?” However, as her language gets more complex, it mostly comes out in English.
Although I speak to her in Spanish, she hears English everywhere else, so her choice to use it makes sense. Children are less likely to use a language they are not required to use to make themselves understood. My daughter knows I understand English, and I do not force her to use Spanish with me. I often ask her to repeat in Spanish but I do not reprimand her for using English or pretend like I don’t understand. I’m optimistic that my consistent use of Spanish will help her continue to develop bilingually even if she’s favouring English for now.
Spanish in English
At home, my daughter continues to favour Spanish nouns even when speaking English. Two of the sentences described earlier are examples: “dada give you fruta” and “can I please have a piece of plátano?”. The goat story described earlier would actually go more like this: “One day, me and mama went to the granja and a cabra eat mama’s cordones!”
She also uses some Spanish constructions in English (which I can’t help but revel in since it’s a sign that at least part of her brain thinks in Spanish!). Here are a few favourite examples:
|English||Spanish||What she says|
|Pluralizing adjectives||Really similar||Muy similares||Really similars|
|Using ‘of’ in descriptions||Kayla’s house|
|Casa de Kayla|
Velas de colores
|House of Kayla|
Candles of colours
|Different prepositions||I bonked into the table||Me choqué con la mesa||I bonked with the table|
|Including definite articles||Mama closes her eyes||Mamá cierra los ojos||Mamá closes the eyes|
|Literal translations||We skipped a page|
A woman playing the violin
|Perdimos una página|
Una mujer tocando el violín
|We lost a page|
A woman touching the violin
Finally (for now – I could go on and on about my daughter’s language use!), my daughter now assigns certain languages to certain people and doesn’t like if we use the wrong ones. If my husband speaks to her in Spanish, she now says “no dada Spanish!” and she gets upset if I start reading or singing in English, demanding “spanyol!” I’m happy she considers Spanish my language, and I must say I’m getting pretty good at translating on the fly! But, on that note, anyone know of a good Spanish version of Baby Beluga??