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.

Monday, December 13, 2010


As a language teacher, you are very in tune with what words you use to express yourself and how you express yourself.  When you teach young language learners, I think this becomes amplified.  You don’t change your natural speech or language use, you are just more aware.  I guess this is important to point out because I strongly believe that language (both foreign and native) need to be taught using a natural, language-rich environment of normal speech instead of focusing on teaching vocabulary and changing how one speaks--- I guess it is part of me being a Language Nerdo.  My point is that I’m aware of what I say in either language.  So imagine our surprise when Sofía pokes her head out of the playset and says en Inglés, “Peek-a-Boo, I see you!”.  My husband and I looked at each other very confused.  In case you may have forgotten, we only speak en Español (except for a few choice words) to Sofía.  We asked each other if she said what we thought she said.  We both know that that expression, “Peek-a-Boo, I see you” is not one we use.  Just not part of what we say.  Sofía continued to say her Peek-a – Boo phrase more frequently and more clearly, in various correct contexts.  The next day, she wanted me to follow her into the next room and she motioned to me with her hands and said, “Come, ven.”  I immediately got on my cell phone to relate this new thing to my husband.  We couldn’t figure out where in the world she learned the phrase or the use of the word, Come.  So I started thinking of all her language input environments.  I went through my mental checklist of Baby Signing Times DVDs, her canciones and then I stopped.  Although I THINK I figured out from where the Peek-a-Boo phrase MIGHT have come, the reality is that Sofía’s environment of language input is vast and freckled with both Español and Inglés.  While her vocabulary is small and limited I might be able to track the input, but, as it has begun to boom in the past three weeks, there really is no telling exactly from where she learned what.  We think that she learned the Peek-a-Boo phrase from the older neighbor girls who come to play with her once a week.  All we know for sure is that we don’t didn’t say it---until now that is!

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