Baby Sign Language: Mastering Eat and Milk!

Baby sign language is a way to teach infants how to communicate using hand gestures. Hand gestures are easier for a baby than controlling their vocal chords. Using sign language enables your baby to start communicating about six months earlier than if you were just relying on speech. Being able to sign accelerates your baby’s progress to words as well. Studies show that signing babies develop larger speaking vocabularies than their non-signing counterparts.

As well as giving parents a way to start communicating with their baby earlier, baby sign language makes the baby’s life easier too. Being able to tell you what is on her mind gives your baby a little more control over her life, reducing frustration and the resulting fussiness. Many signing babies seem to skip the terrible twos stage and sail smoothly into toddler hood!               Read more here.

My daughter signed “milk” today. I knew she was very close to mastering it as she knew exactly what we meant when we signed it and would get very excited, and look everywhere for it but I didn’t expect to be such proud mum! She is now able to sign “eat” and “milk” and does a great job!

At first, signing wasn’t something I was really interested in. It wasn’t familiar to me, I didn’t know anyone in my entourage who had done it in the past, and didn’t really see a need for it. My husband was really interested in it however, so I decided to my research and decide if this is something I would like to do for our child. I also had the opportunity to meet with another mum later in time who had had great results with her own daughter and the more I read about it, the more sense it made.

We have been very consistent but I have to confess that I didn’t really think she would ever sign back. Well, not that I don’t trust her abilities but let’s say that I didn’t have high expectations. At the present time, we are using “eat”, “milk”, “hurt” and “bird” (I know, random but she loves birds) as well as “more” and “all done”. Now that she masters eat and milk, I want to focus more on “more” and “all done” as this is something that would be really useful (although she shakes her head when she is done so I take it as a “no more”).

I should add that my research mainly consisted (and I realize the choice of word was a tad strong) in reading about the benefits and checking out some signs. I may not be doing it the right way but it is working and everyone’s happy.

I think it might help with her bilingualism as well as my husband and I both use ASL (American Sign Language). She knows that MILK and LAIT means the same.

Have you ever been interested in signing? Would you recommend it? Please share your experience! Thank you!

What are the Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children ?

I can’t see how being bilingual could be a disadvantage or a weakness but there are a lot of preconceived about bilingualism.

I was always interested in other languages, cultures and customs and always thought of bilingualism (or polyglotism) as a magic power. If I had to have one, that would be this one.

When you think of it, the ability to speak many languages enables you to double, triple, quadruple and more your communicating and social/interacting skills as well as your opportunities in life.

Learning a foreign language brings people together. I am glad I learned English as I have now a wonderful husband and an adorable baby girl, dear friends and interesting people in my life, and I’ve had the opportunity to work and study in London and Canada – which would have never been possible, hadn’t I spoke English.

Here is an article I read about the Benefits and Disadvantages of raising children in a bilingual environment via http://www.raising-bilingual-children.com/basics/info/pros-cons/ (Raising Bilingual Children). .

“What advantages does a bilingual environment offer children? What disadvantages arise from raising children in a bilingual environment?

The Advantages:

  • Children raised in more than one language are able to master both languages just as well as a child raised in one language.
  • Children in multilingual environments are possessed with a greater feel for languages and at the same time, understand that language is a tool for the purpose of communication.
  • Children raised bilingually have greater facility in acquiring foreign language fluency at a later time.
  • Children who enjoy a multilingual education can transfer knowledge of one language to another. This “knowledge transfer” allows for greater comprehension with grammatical structures  and can also serve enhance vocabulary.
  • Children raised in more than one language have added advantages in certain careers having an international focus.
  • Children in multilingual environments have a better feel for the cultural differences and peculiarities of the world.

The Disadvantages:

  • Children raised bilingually run the risk of not mastering either language, and subsequently having difficulties in successful completion of a formal education.
  • Children enjoying a bilingual environment run the risk of being isolated by the host society or of being teased by their peers when speaking in the foreign language. This teasing can have a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of the child.
  • Speech impediments in children, whether it is of a physical nature or difficulties in the pronunciation of the language becomes more difficult to remedy in bilingual children as each language has to be addressed individually.

Tip: The success or failure of these advantages and disadvantages can be traced to the family. The more activities the family does together and the more they communicate, the greater chance for the advantages to take hold. This sows the seeds for greater success in mastering the language.”

How many languages can you speak? Did you feel different because you could speak more languages than your peers at school? Will you teach your children as well? Any regrets or wishes? Please share !

Bringing up a Bilingual Baby

I am Parisian French. When I was 8, I had to choose a second language (it was mandatory). I wanted to learn English but my dad highly recommended I take German. Let’s say I had to. I never liked it. In fact, I hated it. So when, aged 13, I was asked to take a third language between English and Spanish, I took English.

It was instant love.

For those of you who know German, you may know how much easier it is to learn English after battling against “der, die, den, das” and others singularities of the German language…

English, on the other hand, was melody to my ears. And I was very good at it. I pretty much averaged 18 out of 20 at every exam (French marking – equivalent of an A minus maybe?) on my first year.

My husband is Canadian English. He learned French in high school but doesn’t remember much. He is trying really hard however to learn with the baby. But it is obviously harder to learn as an adult !

We were excited at the thought of raising a bilingual individual long before I got pregnant. It would be such a rich heritage to pass on to our child !

I did some research when I was pregnant as I wanted to find out what would be the best way to introduce both languages and finally agreed with my husband that we would do : one parent, one language.

This is pretty much what we have been doing although I do speak English at times. Usually, it goes like this: Did you tell Papa what we did today? So that, Papa in fact, knows what we’re talking about.

I have here on the island very few opportunities to speak French and if it wasn’t for my family and friends from France, I would probably not talk French at all anymore.

But there came our little one ! How I love speaking and singing in French to her ! I am so looking forward to hearing her first French word !

And to give her more opportunity to hear and speak the language, we would like to send her to a French daycare ( if we get a spot – she is on the waiting list ! ) and French school until junior high. Then we will give her the choice: stay in French school or go to an English one.

I would also like to add the basics of a third language (Spanish or Italian). And make sure she has good world awareness: I want her to know about different cultures, languages, and customs.

Please share your experience raising a bilingual child because you and your partner speak different languages or because it is a choice of yours. How does it work for you? Thank you !