Monday, May 20, 2013

2 languages , double the swear words

We raise our kids in 2 languages.. or at least we try I guess.. If we end up with two kids who can only grunt out indistinguishable noises when they go to college, then we'll know we've failed..

My native language is Dutch and J.'s is English. While we were pregnant with Little Man, we did lots of research into raising a kid in 2 languages. Would it screw with his head? Would his language development be stunted? We had no idea....

J. and I speak English at home to each other. I've always worked in an English language environment as well, so English is sort of our 'family language'. Little Man will only be exposed to Dutch in large quantities when he starts going to school in September.

So apparently (according to the experts) it is imperative that we both continued speaking in our native tongues to Little Man. I read his bedtime stories in Dutch and J. reads them in English. Yes, 2 languages and you have to double your budget for books... "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and 'Rupsje NooitGenoeg".. every book in 2 languages... If you think you get fed up reading "Goodnight Moon".. try reading it in 2 languages...

Little Man started talking pretty early.. Just in English though. On a rare occasion he would say something in Dutch to me. I was getting worried. Did I speak enough Dutch to him? Would he be behind with his language development by the time he was going to school? He understood what I said to him, but he never conversed in the same way he did in English. Although J. was worried in the beginning that Little Man would not speak any English, I was now starting to get worried he would not speak any Dutch.

A few weeks ago I was comforted by a new development. Little Man started comparing his vocabulary. "mama says hippopotamus... papa says nijlpaard", "mama says tomato, papa says tomaat".. He started comparing more and more words... He was putting his vocabulary in the right boxes in his head... But still I was worried... And then.., a few days ago, I was assured that everything would be OK....

Last week, Little Man walked in from the garden and said "Shit, Fuck, what the hell is that?" while holding a ladybug.... It's one of those moments you really feel proud as a parent. Especially when it was followed by a "Godverdomme"... Dutch for "goddamn".. yes, we had succeeded!! Our first-born was bilingual !!

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