About La Mother Tongue

La Mother Tongue is my medium to share the joys and challenges of being a new parent as well as to share how we make a conscious effort in our daily life to bring baby up bilingual.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baby Signing Times

¡Brillante! If you have a baby or toddler or know someone who has a baby or toddler, you should run, and I mean RUN, not walk, RUN, to purchase the Baby Signing Times DVDs. Their website is http://www.signingtime.com/ , but you can also buy them from Amazon.com. If you have ever been to a foreign country, you understand how FRUSTRATING it is to not be able to express yourself and everyone around you stares and acts like you are from Mars. I can only imagine that babies have that same feeling as they mature. Sofia understands many things when I talk to her, but she can’t verbally tell me that she wants grapes and not bananas. Well, using sign language she can!
Really, my husband is the one who started using the signs from the DVD. And between us reinforcing the signs and watching the video (like maybe only once a week) she learned the signs for various things. It is amazing how Sofía learns them in English and uses them when I speak to her in Spanish. So she knows them either language. Isn’t the brain amazing! She was just nine months old when she started to use the signs, so that means she understood them much earlier. In the line of language acquisition, oral comprehension happens first and actual production, or speaking, follows later. So Sofía knows how to sign the following: finished, more, eat, milk, agua, hat, shoes, banana and today she used “grapes” for the first time! It’s incredible! There are words that I sign with Sofía that aren’t on the videos, so I look them up on the ASL website, http://www.lifeprint.com/ .


  1. Hello! I found your blog looking at someone else's about raising a bilingual child. I am looking for advice. I am (was) a Spanish teacher, but am a non-native Spanish speaker. I have a 6 month old and started speaking to him exclusively in Spanish about five days ago. It's going well, but I definitely have my doubts. Am I going to have to speak to all my children in Spanish forever? I do feel a little bit of a disconnection from him since it is not my native tongue. And should I speak exclusively to him in Spanish or just set aside time every day where we go over Spanish words? I also read somewhere to maybe wait till age 2 or 3 where they have a good grasp of English and then move into Spanish. What are your thoughts? I see you are using ASL for both languages, which was something else I was wondering about. Please email me at ticlita@hotmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. --Tawni

  2. She knows signs I don't know- we can teach each other. :)

  3. Tawni,
    Felicidades otra vez!!! Can you believe it has been six months!! The decision of whether or not to raise your child bilingual is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly and can be a tough one; especially if you are not the only one involved in making the decision. Whatever you do, you need to feel comfortable doing it. My suggestion is that you take a look at what your language abilities are—are you able to create a language rich environment for your son? Is it natural for you to converse in Spanish? Regardless of the language I’m sure you will not be disconnected from him by the language-you are his mother!! Probably that feeling is just a manifestation of your own doubts combined with the newness of the experience, meshed with being a new parent and don’t forget those surge of hormones that top off life to make everything just a bit more spicy! What I would recommend, as you can guess from today’s post, is that I would go whole-hog or nothing. If you feel that you are capable of doing this, then do it. Spanish will always be your son’s minority language and the influences around him will always be English unless you move to a Spanish speaking country. So Spanish will always have the disadvantage. So you may as well give it the advantage while you can and while your son is wired to learn an additional language best. Right now you have nature on your side. Again, whatever your family decides to do, trust in and be confident in yourself!
    About the ASL…I know that sign language is different in every country, but I use the signs with Spanish too and call it a day. I’m not exigente about everything!

    Thanks again for writing and sharing and let me know how it is going!