Geo is now 3 ½ years old and has had speech therapy for about five months. I have not stopped speaking to the children in French; however, I have adjusted how I respond to Geo. Usually, I am careful to help him learn his English sounds when he is producing speech. I may ask him a question in French and he answers me in English and I use the touch cue system to help him pronounce the words properly. From time to time he will throw in some French words or phrases. Once in a while, we will spend some time working on French words. We are focusing on Geo’s English articulation because in two years, he will need to be understood in English when he starts Kindergarten. We have continued to provide Geo with tons of French input, but we are not stressing that he speak in French. In this video, you will hear and see one of the rare times when I use the touch cues to help Geo speak French. The touch cues are something that I have learned from Geo’s therapist to better assist him to speak. The cues really work! He has some trouble with a couple of the numbers, but I didn’t dwell on them. If we were working on English, I would have spent more time having him repeat the words independently several times. The key for his learning is repetition. Practice makes perfect! It is amazing to see how the touch cues help him. I do them as I say the word for him to see, and as you can see he chooses to use the cues himself. They really help him articulate better!
At the end of the video, you can hear him say: “Ready or not, I’m coming!”
We have found that the absolute best time to encourage Geo to work on his speaking is through play. Who doesn’t love to learn while having fun?
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?