Forums  •  Classifieds  •  Events  •  Directory

 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Toddler Language Issues

  1. #1
    FutureHKmom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Central
    Posts
    553

    Toddler Language Issues

    We are a bilingual family. Our son, 2.5 years old, is exposed to both English and Cantonese on a daily basis. My son was slow to start talking and now at 2.5 years old, only says phrases and not sentences yet. I find that he speaks mostly in Cantonese, though I think he understands both Cantonese and English equally well. He probably speaks mostly in Cantonese because the nanny who takes care of him Mondays-Fridays only speaks Cantonese. Both my husband and I and the grandparents speak both English and Cantonese, but I think we predominantly speak Cantonese to him. However, all the DVDs he watches and the songs he listens to are in English. I have recently been trying to speak more English to him and encourage him to respond in English. When I ask him repeat things in English, he does so, but doesn't usually take the initiative to respond in English. Are there any suggestions how I can get him to speak more English?

    My other issue with his speech is that he is very lazy and often doesn't prounounce words correctly. For instance, instead of "yes", he says "yeah" because he has problems with the "s" sound (I know he can say it though because when I ask him to say it correctly he says it correctly, he just doesn't do it automatically). He also has problems with the "m" sound and when he says "m-a-m-i" (what he calls me) it often comes out "b-a-b-i". Any ideas on how I can correct this? I have been told that I should just correct him when he says things incorrectly, which I do. But the next time he says it, he just says it incorrectly again.

    Any thoughts on these issues would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    HK
    Posts
    1,623
    My son (almost 4-years-old) is also bilingual. He speaks Cantonese with my husband, his grandparents and his teachers and classmates at school. He also speaks English at home. At home we mostly speak English. My husband and I speak English with each other and when we're all together we only speak English. He also speaks English with our helper and a few of his non-Chinese friends. My son also shows a preference for Cantonese because when he is playing by himself he always uses that language with his toys.

    I think with small children it all comes down to exposure so if you think it's important that he speak English more you should probably focus on speaking English only at home, not as much Cantonese--especially if he has a helper who is speaking Cantonese with him all week when you're not at home.

    It seems that right now that amount of English your son is speaking is probably proportional to the amount that is spoken to him. English in the form of DVDs and CDs isn't as dynamic as English that is conversational. DVDs and CDs will train your son's passive English skills (listening skills) but only speaking will actually train his active English skills (speaking skills). This is why he probably understands a lot more English than he produces with his own mouth. If most of his English exposure is coming from a source that doesn't require him to produce English (i.e. he's not having a conversation with the CD or DVD) then it's to be expected that his productive English skills aren't going to be as strong.

    As far as your son's pronunciation goes. I think it's quite normal for children to have difficulty with some sounds while they're young. However, if I were you, I would certainly check with my child's doctor to make sure he's definitely not having a hearing problem. If he is having trouble differentiating between the "b" and "m" sounds then that could actually be a problem. You can correct him but there might be something going on so I would check into it.

    As your son starts school these difficulties may go away on their own or they might become more problematic. It's hard to tell with a young child but I'd say by the time he starts primary school things will be more clear.

    All the best to you.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  3. #3
    Frenchy is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Ap Lei Chau
    Posts
    635
    We are not a bilingual family, speaking mostly French to our kids, but because the older one is going to an English school, has only English speaking friends, watching TV in English... he mainly speaks English, even if we speak to him in French. It took him some time to make sentences in both languages, and he is far better in English.
    I agree with Thanka2 about the pronunciation, there are some letters that can be harder to pronounce for some kids, my son took ages to say "R" or "S", the "R" would just disappear, and the "S" would be "F". We would just repeat his sentence with the good pronunciation, so he doesn't feel like he is corrected, but make sure he hears it properly. He had a hearing test too.
    He is now 4 years old, and pronounce all the letters properly (even though he speaks French with a very strong English accent ! :D).

  4. #4
    OX Jess is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
    Posts
    219
    Glad to find this topic. Similar to FutrueHKMom we are a bilingual family (English/Cantonese). My son is 2.4 years old and he is a late talker. Before 2, the numbers of words he could say CLEARLY with some 'sense' were less than 10. Once he hit two, his pronunciations and vocabulary developed much faster than before. I can see that he can pronounce many different sounds than before. However, he is yet able to produce 'sentences'. He can't use "I" / "You" (in both Cantonese & English). When he wants to refer to himself, the most he can do is to say his nickname "BOY". For example, once he really wanted me to take him out so he said, "Boy, Mommy, go out!" (assisted with some finger gestures). As I can see his speech is developing, although much slower than his peers, I am not really that worrying.

    What is worrying me slightly is his inability to pronounce some sounds. He is absolutely unable pronounce any sound produced from the "throat", e.g. "K". Instead of saying "car" he says "tar"; he says "dou out" to mean "go out". He also has trouble with "L". He can't say "Lollipop". You can tell he is really trying hard but his tongue simply can't function well in that respect.

    My worries/questions are: Is it normal for some kids having difficulty in uttering out these sounds? Is there anything wrong with his tongue? Shall I ring an alarm and take him to see a speech therapist because of this?
    Is there any way I can train him to pronounce these sounds? I tried to show the movement of my tongue (for the "l" sound); and I tried to show him the sound from my throat... he could follow me quite well but once he is required to say a word starting with "k" sound, e.g. Kangaroo, he can't manage it.

    By the way, he doesn't seem to have much problem with Cantonese. And he has no preference to either language, all depends on to which words he is largely exposed to... but he is somehow able to switch to English when speaking to me, and to Cantonese to his daddy, which I found quite amazing!
    Last edited by OX Jess; 10-11-2011 at 05:32 PM.

  5. #5
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Sai Kung
    Posts
    6,259
    yes, there are always some sounds that take longer to master.

    my son was 5.5 before he could say the "th" sound! it just takes time. no, you do NOT need a speech therapist yet. how can you train him? just keep correcting him when he makes the mistake. as he gets older, help him practice it. don't overdo it though....break the words into smaller parts/syllables. so, "k", "kang", "kanga", "kangaroo" etc

  6. #6
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    South District
    Posts
    1,055
    would agree with Carang

    my daughter is slow in talking too and have gone down the assessment and speech therapist route... i feel that her attending school has helped her the most in speaking. if you want your child to improve in speaking and certain sounds, i would encourage you to just spend time on speaking and using that language at home in different contexts - during play, during story time, during meal times etc. the more you hear it and use it the more it will become second nature. speech therapy is great only if you do it on a daily basis (I believe) and if you don't have any ideas of how to work with your child at home. if you want any ideas pm me so i can give you some ideas (I'm a language teacher and after having attended numerous speech therapy sessions, I don't think what they do with kids is all that different from what i've been doing). time is the essence.

    though it's hard - try to see the progress your child is making and not compare him / her to others of the same age (you will be depressed if he doesn't catch up fast enough)- if he's slow but making progress when compared to himself, then you should remember that your child has made progress and that should be a reason for celebration! :)

  7. #7
    OX Jess is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
    Posts
    219
    Thanks, Cara and Leslie. I can see his span of vocabulary is expanding every day... He could just about to pronounce the word "Keys" yesterday when he demanded to open the doors himself! I am pleased...

    I read (and talk and sing) a lot to him,, and since about two months ago, I required him to follow me to read title of the storybooks and it helps a lot his language development :))

  8. #8
    kacoak is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Mid-levels Central
    Posts
    89
    An interesting recent read that could be relevant to this topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/he...html?ref=views

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Help us with our DH leave issues!
    By 2Buffs in forum Helper Forums
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 02-15-2009, 10:42 PM
  2. Issues with helper
    By putput in forum Baby Talk
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 12-18-2008, 08:28 PM
  3. Working issues
    By nataliekaye in forum Everything Else
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-22-2008, 11:52 AM
  4. Visa issues?
    By nataliekaye in forum Everything Else
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05-03-2008, 01:15 AM
  5. Sleep Issues
    By nanzbier in forum Sleep and your Baby
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-15-2006, 01:53 PM
Scroll to top