Geo is a 4-year-old boy being raised bilingually in monocultural home.

Archive for the ‘articularion’ Category

Géo chante l’alphabet

Tonight after our story time app (en français, bien sûr), Geo and his sister were helping update a little alphabet project that we work on every now and then. It has to do with this book.

All of a sudden, Geo starts singing our special French alphabet song! From A-Z. He is not one to sing. In fact, he often complains that my singing hurts his ears. His ear doctor said this may be normal due to his ear condition.

He has heard that special alphabet song many times, but I have never heard him sing it. He had some difficulties with articulation, especially towards the end, but it was music to my ears nonetheless! Go Geo, go!!!

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Mumbling Awareness

Just received this idea for Geo today from his speech therapist. We are going to give it a whirl. Geo is very capable of saying many of his sounds, but he often mumbles. This makes it extremely difficult to understand him at times. The therapist was hoping to get me and my husband on board for this technique so that all of us are reinforcing it the same way and using the same cue.

We are very hopeful about this!

Click here for the plan!

Successful Surgery, Please!

Geo just turned four-year-old about a month ago. Since last summer, he has started seeing a new speech therapist. She also uses touch cues to help Geo speak. See my blog post and video where I use touch cues with Geo here. We continue to use the touch cues to guide him, but we have started to take away the support of saying the word for him. So if he is trying to say “sister,” which is tough because of the double consonant sound “st,” I will just gesture the touch cue without saying the word “sister.” It is amazing how this helps him remember how to put his sounds together. I cannot help but compare the wonders of using these touch cues to the wonders of using gestures with the Accelerative Integrative Method (AIM) of language learning created by Wendy Maxwell. I am using these touch cues with Geo just like AIM uses a technique called “gestural mirroring.” It is simply magical to see how both my son and my students react positively to the support of these different gestural cues to guide their language production!

Luckily, Geo’s speech therapist does not believe he has verbal apraxia. There was a time where we thought he was apraxic, but now it seems that was an error. He has made slow but steady progress in his speech and we are amazed by his ability to say words that he couldn’t say just a few months ago. He can now say his “s” sound and his hard “c” sound. So favorite words like “dinosaur” and “cat” are finally being properly articulated! Woohoo!!!!

As I have already mentioned in this blog, I have not stopped speaking French to Geo due to his delay. All the experts on Geo’s team have agreed that language input in French will not hurt him. His ear doctor stated: “His brain can handle it.” This has pretty much been the thought process of all his physicians. We are not making him work on pronouncing French, yet, though, knowing that next fall we want him to be understood by his peers in Kindergarten, who are mainly monolingual English speakers. Geo does, however, produce some speech in French. Here he is just saying “Bonjour” and being his bouncy, cheerful self:

Geo will be undergoing his second (and hopefully final) ear surgery in May. Last fall we found out that he had a cholesteatoma which is a growth in his middle ear. This congenital growth has been with him since the womb and has grown over the years. Luckily we found it! Without treatment it could have caused permanent nerve damage as it just grows and grows. He had his first surgery in December 2012 to remove the majority of the growth. Unfortunately, his little middle ear bones have paid the price of the growth’s mass and are deteriorated due to the intrusion. His second surgery in May will take off any additional growth that may be left and to attempt to reconnect his middle ear. This will be a delicate task due to the deterioration of those tiny bones. We are asking for all positive energy and prayers for a successful surgery. THANK YOU!!! He is scheduled for surgery on May 15th. When successful, Geo will have almost immediate restoration of hearing in his ear! He has been living with about 50% hearing loss on his left side…we believe this is most likely the cause for his speech delay.

His speech therapist has assessed Geo’s language skills. We are very pleased to learn that his receptive language skills are above average. He is able to understand more language than an average kid his age. We cannot hep but wonder if our bilingual efforts with him are already paying off at his early age! His cognitive skills are on par for a successful academic career…but I worry about how “all-over-the-place” busy he is. He will need active learning…and on that note, I cannot wait to start using AIM with him and his sister! As soon as we can get La Poule Maboule kit, we’ll be on our way!

I just found this video from a couple months ago. He says “ça fait mal” (it hurts) after kneeling on a toy but doesn’t pronounce the soft “ç” sound properly. I do not correct his French pronunciation…thinking of that affective filter. Just two months ago, he wasn’t able to say his initial “s”/”ç” sound. He can now!!!!!!!!! Go, Geo, GO!!! 🙂

Our Future Multiliterate

Geo is speech delayed. He has verbal apraxia that makes speech difficult for him. We were told to repeat back to him in English what he is trying to say so we can best prepare him for Kindergarten where he will have to speak English. In this video you will see when I work with Geo on the word “off.” I provided him with the touch cue for the “f” sound in “off.” For the “f” touch cue, you place your pointer finger across your bottom lip to show where your teeth have to touch to create the “f” sound. You can see Geo copy my cue when he correctly articulates the “f” sound in “off.” With the cue, his brain gains control over the muscles and movement his mouth needs to produce proper speech. (Or at least, this is what I have come to understand about Geo’s apraxia over the last few months.)

Geo’s speech team said I could still speak to him in French as much as possible. When Geo is in “listen” mode with his mother around (yours truly), he is mainly hearing French. When he is speaking, he mainly chooses English and the English words are the ones we focus on getting him to say. We provide him the touch cues for the English sounds and he puts the sounds together to produce the word. The touch cue helps his brain tell his mouth what to say. All the touch cues touch near the part of the face and throat where the sound is produced (more or less). Seems that no matter how you slice and dice it, gestures and touch cues are a dynamite vehicle for language learning!

When we are not working Geo’s speech, we have gaming and singing time in French in addition to story time. During these times, Geo does say some words in French. At this point, I don’t spend much time teaching him how to pronounce each French word he is not articulating properly. Usually when we are playing, we focus on having fun…don’t you? Learning to speak is hard work for our little guy…if we pushed it on him all the time, he would rebel as he did the first week we began therapy when we made him work to articulate   too often.

All in all, we are thrilled with the progress that Geo has made over the past few months in speech therapy. We are equally thrilled with the amount of “franglais”  he is using…articulation aside! (Franglais is what we called English with French mixed in.) We have a long road ahead to get Geo’s speech up to par with other kids his age, but we are understanding him more and more each day and he is making steady progress.

Hopefully we will be able to provide enough second language exposure to Geo now so that once he has his English articulation down to a science and starts his formal school-based language learning, he will breeze through it saying “Au revoir” to speech delay and “Bonjour” to multiliteracy!

What do you think? Do you think by mixing the language together as seen in this video, Geo will confuse the languages? Is there any advice you could share with us?