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

Posts tagged ‘language learning’

Stinky Comment Makes Mother’s Day

Many people were excited to hear about Geo’s recent hearing test and his 70% hearing capabilities. However, we were not happy with this news. Geo went in July 18th for his hearing test. We expected to learn that he was hearing at almost 100%. The news that he is only hearing at 70% and may now need additional surgery was a great disappointment to us.

We must remain positive, though. Geo used to hear at 50% in his bad ear…and now he’s hearing at 70% after two surgeries. The doctor will see Geo again in six months and if he is still at 70%, then we will schedule another surgery. Luckily, the follow-up surgery is less intrusive. There is a small metal implant in Geo’s ear and the surgery would simply shift the implant slightly to try to improve Geo’s hearing. The doctor’s goal is to bring him up to 85%.

Additionally, since his improved hearing, we have noticed that Geo is speaking a lot more! It’s not always well articulated, but he is definitely feeling more confident and is speaking much more. He still reports that he hears so much better and that it’s “really cool” to hear better. Also, Geo is more open to having me sing to him his lullabies! (Wonderful news to a mommy who loves to sing to her children!)

Finally, another positive point is that Geo has started speaking more French. He is spontaneously coming up with things to say en français! This is exciting, especially since Geo has often asked that we speak English and has not really latched onto French like his sister has. One reason he could be enjoying French more now (in addition to his improved hearing) is the fact that we’ve hosted several “Sunny Earth Camps” where many children from the community have come into our home to participate in a fun and active French lesson. I am using AIM Language Learning’s La Poule Maboule kit for the majority of the camp. In the video above, you’ll see him saying the words for “boy” (garçon) and “girl” (fille), while also doing his own version of the AIM gestures for the two words. Before starting the video camera, Geo had started saying and gesturing the words “fille” and “garçon” over and over again in his silly Geo-style. It took a little questioning to get him to reenact it…and that’s what you see in the video.

We recently went on a vacation to DC. While waiting to cross a street, there were several busses and cars. Out of the blue, after much whole-family English conversation, Geo blurted out “Ça pue!” (It reeks/stinks!)…and yes, it did indeed stink! I think this may be Geo’s first spontaneous complete sentence in French…short, not sweet due to its stinkyness, but ever so sweet to our ears! Go, Geo, go!!!!!

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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?