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Tri Lingualism and Speech Delay

  1. #1
    mrs momo is offline Registered User
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    Tri Lingualism and Speech Delay

    Hi All

    My LO is nearly 20mths old but he is not really saying any clear words. Occasionally he will say mama particularly under duress (eg I go out and he stays at home :PPP) I have heard him say bye bye very clearly only once when he was watching tv because the program said bye bye at the end. He la la very well every time after watching the Promise advert when it rains. (I think it is only on the Cantonese channel).

    What should I do as I speak to him in English but I would also speak Cantonese when his daddy and inlaws are around. My helper speaks to him in Indonesian so are all these languages delaying his speech?
    Some people have advised we should all use one language for the time being until his speech improves. I definitely don't think my child has any other developmental problems so what should I do. He seems to understand all three languages very well but he just can't spit it out. Should I be concern now and also what can I do to improve his speech? Thanks!

  2. #2
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
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    Why does your helper speak Indonesian to him? I would stick to two languages as a max initially. It would make sense to me that if he is hearing three languages right at the age he should be starting to speak that it would make things more difficult for him.

  3. #3
    Sleuth is offline Registered User
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    We have been told that being exposed to multiple languages slows down speech. Not sure why 3 langauages would matter more than 2.
    But that isn't a negative thing. Just remember this when your LO has asked you "why" for the thousandth time in 3 languages.

  4. #4
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    yes, multiple languages ususally means a delay in speech. but DON'T WORRY and DON'T STOP!!!!

    my boy gets :English (some bad cantonese) from me
    Cantonese (some ok English) from daddy
    Cantonese (with Hakka accent) from mama
    English/Cantonese/Tagalog from helper.

    he only could say 2 or 3 words at 20 months. he's now 30 months and doesn't shut up. he currently shows a preference for English, but this is starting to change. and it is perfectly normal for them to use both/all languages at the same time, " i want lee goh." "mummy, don't fan gow!"

    just keep it going and eventually he'll get it!

    good luck! your son is so lucky to have such a great exposure to different languages!

  5. #5
    Neha is offline Banned
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    Last time I heard that it is good to expose babies to different languages as at this stage they can grasp the accent faster than adults. The only u should do is when u speak in one languange u must stick to it. If u speak to your in cantonese then complete the whole conversation in cantonese dont mix english/cantonese etc as that confuses them.

    As carang said enjoy a few quiet days and then they will not keep quiet.

  6. #6
    joannek is offline Registered User
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    i'm not sure if your 20mth old is speech-wise meeting his milestones. that, you probably has to ask your ped. my daughter was exposed to cantonese from me, some well-pronounced english, but gramatically in cantonese from my husband, & in-laws), some tagalog accented english from helper, english & mandarin in playggroups. i also read french books to her, and she hears spanish from dora. she only really started speaking at 24 mths. she's now 30 mths, and she's also talking NON-STOP!! but once she started speaking, she just turbo-ed on. i recently found out that she also learnt a lot of spanish vocab from watching dora, she understands what our filipino helpers are talking about, my putonghua speaking friends say that she understands basic putonghua, and she talks in cantonese/english (just like carang's son) on a daily basis.

    if your son is developmenting normally, i wouldn't worry about it. =)

  7. #7
    lynn cheung is offline Registered User
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    Yeah, I'd say don't worry, too.
    I don't think multiple languages will delay the speech.
    I think it depends on the child, some will speak early, some will speak a bit later.
    As long each of you stick to one language and be consistent.

    I speak only English to our son, my husband speaks in Putonghua. Since there're only 2 of us, we can only introduce him to 2 languages.
    We did it since our son was a baby.

    At 6 months he could call me Mama and my husband Papa when he wanted us (very clear).

    At 12 months he started to speak
    14 months, short sentences
    16 months, long sentences
    in BOTH English AND Putonghua.

    By 24 months he knew more than one thousand vocabularies in English and hundreds in Putonghua.

    He's one of those who can speak early.

    So don't worry and keep on taking to him in different languages.

  8. #8
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    they also say that babies either walk early or talk early. mine was an early walker, walking all the time by himself, without holding hands by 10.5 months!

    the seem to need to focus on mastering one thing before they can move on to the next.

    but once they grasp the idea.... off they go!

    really 20 months is NOT too late!

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