Even though I no longer live in Denmark it is still extremely important to me that Caspian learns the Danish language and will be able to speak this as well as English fluently. Hopefully even a third language later on as Daddy Long Legs parle francais aussi, but for now we’ll focus on teaching our little boy our native tongues.
I therefore speak to Caspian in Danish as much as possible, and we speak English as a family. I regularly Skype and facetime my parents and friends back home, so that he hears Danish in conversation as well. I have always found bilingual children fascinating, the way they effortlessly shift between languages and know which parent will understand what.
As not many people around the world understand let alone speak Danish (it is a small country of only 5,7 million people after all) it has always been important for us as a nation to learn foreign languages in order to make our mark globally. English is introduced early followed by either German, French, Spanish, Italian and/or sometimes Russian. When I was at school we were introduced to English around the age of 10-11, but now they’ve moved it forward to 6-7. So these children not only have to come to terms with their mother tongue but also learn a new language at the same time. When I first heard about this I thought it was putting too much pressure on these young kids. But after watching a TED talk on how children pick up language the other week I realised that they have probably done this, as before age 7 is the crucial time for easily learning a foreign language. And apparently you stand no chance after 39!
After watching said TED talk I also learned how much the first year of a baby’s life affects their language skills. Definitely worth a watch especially if you have bilingual kids. I love to hear Caspian baby babble – or pludre as we call it in Danish and I happily join in with motherese to great amusement of those around me. There are periods where he’s really quiet, just observing the world around him, and then suddenly he wont stop talking probably telling me what a silly mummy I am. I have definitely learnt when he’s letting me know – and in no uncertain terms – that he’s hungry! And I’m pretty sure the neighbors have picked up on it too!
In the last week I’ve met up with a couple of fellow mummies who both have toddler boys approaching their 2nd birthdays. These little guys are getting very chatty though not all of the words necessarily make sense to the grown up brain. One has an appreciation for any word starting with B confusing his poor mummy as to whether he wants a bottle, buggy, bear or ball. The other is fascinated with helicopters and his mum told me he has just learnt to say the word. And every time he spots a helicopter whether a real one in the air or a toy version in a shop he’ll scream with great enthusiasm: “HOT COCK COCK”. Yes, so much to look forward to!
And I can’t wait to hear what new words my little man will come up with in the coming years. I am prepared for the fact that he might take a little longer to learn to speak being a bilingual baby – and a boy. But if he is anything like his father he’ll definitely not be stuck for words once he has mastered both Danish and English.
What funny new pronunciations of words have your little ones surprised you with?
I’ve linked up with Vicki at Honestmum.com for: