Monday, June 28, 2010

Bilingual Babies

Grace has been showing us more and more lately that she understands two languages. For most things, she can only say one of the words (the one that is easier to pronounce), but she definitely understands both versions. Yesterday she said her first word in both languages. I was asking her about the baby she saw at the park (she was in love with this little six month old at the playground). She said "baby!" and then looked at SJ and said "agi!" That was very exciting. Both baby and agi are easy to pronounce, so not a surprise that that was her first. Well, she can also say "dog" and "mung mung"...sort of correct. I think the decision to put her in daycare was also good for her language development. She picks up a lot of Korean there and spends the rest of the time with me speaking English, so her exposure is pretty balanced right now.

I had a strange conversation with a woman at the doctor's the other day. I ran into this Korean woman there before. She started talking to me because her six-month-old son is also a mixed baby (French father). She said that her son will be trilingual. I said, yes, that would be fantastic, go for it. She asked about Grace and her language and I said she's learning both Korean and English and we're just talking to her in both languages. She said that she has decided to teach her son Korean first because that is the harder language. I just did the "smile and nod" because I don't know her at all and it was almost our turn to see the doctor. I guess it didn't occur to her that no language is really hard for a baby. I haven't done any in-depth research on the subject, but it seems everyone knows that babies can pick up two or even more languages with proper exposure. Hopefully she'll rethink that decision.

In other news, I'm writing the last bit for the teacher's guide I've been working on. Just a few more unit tests and then some unit revisions. It will be nice to get this one done.


MommyCha said...

Isn't it amazing how much they can pick up?? ^^
Thomas has shown for a while that he fully understands English but chooses to answer mostly in Korean. Since he has started kindergarten his Korean skills are so much stronger. We dropped the 1-parent, 1-language approach and now focus on English at home with both parents. He is making strong progress in speaking and will surprise us at times with his speaking ability.
Yesterday he showed Lorna and her husband that he can answer "What's your name?" and "How old are you?" in English when asked in English and Korean when asked in Korean. ^.^
Not long until Grace can do the same I'm sure!

Dani said...

Grace is so smart! The only truly "bilingual" expression I've heard from Dex is "wow!" and "와!" I'm not sure if that counts, really.

I'm glad that he's learning Korean in school and English at home. Learning Korean at school will be good for him because he can pick up all the honorifics and academic nuances that I can't give him at home. However, having English as a home language is beneficial because I don't think there are as many different nuances to pick up - he could easily fit in linguistically back home if we returned, say, in the middle of elementary school (though it will likely be much sooner than that).

I remember reading an interesting article once about Japanese students having studied their academics only in English being denied access to Japanese universities because their academic Japanese wasn't good enough. Apparently what cuts it at home doesn't cut it at school. I wonder if Korean is similar, as both languages have pretty complex honorific structures.

I think I will eventually end up doing workbooks with Dex at home so he can learn his subjects in English and Korean, in any case.

jenn:D said...

wow.. your baby is totally cute!!XD
And it's amazing that Babies can speak both of languages! Not forced at all but learning themselves! and I think your baby is so smart, too! I hope she would interested in not only language but also the culture of Korea, too!