Tomorrow we finally go in to have Geo’s hearing tested. We are so excited to hear the good news! We totally believe Geo is hearing better! He has reported on several different occassions how cool it is to hear so well! He has also been more open to me singing to him, which is such a special treat! He used to always say “no” to a bedtime lullaby, but now he usually says “yes”!! This may be thanks to his successful surgeries…his two ears are now hearing the same and the sounds coming in are more “in harmony” if you will.
Tonight he asked for this one:
Another exciting thing happened tonight at story time. Geo’s older sister Soleil has taken an interest in reading French at bedtime. Tonight she did so again with a counting book. There were visuals of animals and quantities so really there wasn’t much “reading” involved…but nevertheless, we’ll take language output in L2 in any way, shape or form! So after Soleil’s turn, it was Geo’s. First he did 1-5 in English. One rooster, two goats, three cats, four dogs, five goats. Then came six…without prompting, he said “six canards, sept vaches, huit…(I helped him with the French word for geese: “oies”), neuf cochons, dix moutons (I helped him with the first syllable).
Geo is not usually too into speaking French…in fact he’s usually the one to ask me to speak English. Tonight, French story time took an exciting turn of events. We’ve got comprehensible output! I know that the input Geo has received from me since birth has been far from perfect…but it is working!
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?