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

Posts tagged ‘apraxia’

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?

Geo’s French Words

We have recently had to rethink our strategies for language learning with Geo. Although we don’t have an official diagnosis yet, his speech therapist believes that he is apraxic. We will be getting an official diagnosis as soon as possible, but it likely will tell us he has “apraxia of speech.”

We held off on getting Geo’s speech evaluated because his older sister Soleil had her own “language” for quite some time. She called herself “Ya-yes” forever and had a bunch of other words that were her own creations. For the most part we were and are able to understand Geo. We kept thinking he’d come out of it just like Soleil did. Hindsight’s always 20/20 and obviously now we wish we had acted sooner. He has created speech habits that now will have to be unlearned. We have a long road ahead of us, but we say: Bring it on!

When we had his IEP meeting, we were instructed to allow Geo to speak English. I can continue to speak to him in French, but he needs to respond in English and we need to repeat back to him what he said in English. So, that is what we’re doing for now, however, there are certain words that Geo simply prefers to say in French. They may not be pronounced perfectly, but he just naturally says them in French first. Here’s some of them:

Du lait, de l’eau (“Milk” & “Water” because of a silly song we have song for years)

Jolies lumières (“Pretty lights” because during the holiday season, and year round, whenever we are out driving and spot some pretty lights, we always mention them in French…even Daddy has picked up this one!

Poire (“Pear” because it’s one of Geo’s favorite fruits)

Do-do (“Night-night” because of the lullaby: “Dodo m’amour” that I sing every night)

Arrête (“Stop” because the tickle monster speaks French and stops tickling only when spoken to in French.)

Our multiliteracy adventure has taken a turn, but we still envision the same multiliterate goal for both of our children…we may just have more detours along the way.