Kids and Language

As a mother of 2 small children I am continually astounded by their language development- the words they pick up and the way they manage to play with multiple languages already. As we're currently living in Vienna they are having to master German on top of English… so here are some of my ponderings on the linguistic theme.


March 2015

Exposure: how much is enough?

images2As with everything, language needs to be used and practiced in order for it to be learnt. So for bilingual or multilingual children, this means exposure to both or all their languages as much as possible. But how much is reasonable? Are your children exposed to their minority language regularly all week long? Would you say they are exposed to it around 30 percent of the time, on average (50.4 hours per week, if you’re being literal, although that would include sleeping hours)?

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Book review #2: Winners of children’s book awards

It’s hard to choose a new book for your children- especially with such a wonderful, wide range out there and recommendations coming at you thick and fast from all sources, reputable or not. Of course word-of-mouth suggestions are often the best, but it’s nice once in a while to find something new and feel comfortable that you have made a good choice for your child.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the preceding year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children”. The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are the most prestigious American children’s book awards, and so, despite the fact that I am not American myself, I love to look and see who has won, read the excellent stories and admire the wonderful illustrations of not only the winners but also the other ‘Honor (sic.) Books’.

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What language do you speak at the dinner table?

article-2337808-1A2F6E23000005DC-845_634x478I’ve always wondered, how do multi- language families communicate? Stupid question? Bear with me… I think I have a point.

As you settle into your happy family life with the first- born, joyously listening to him/ her speak to you in your language and your partner in another, you think your multilingual family has found the right balance.  And then you realise that baby number two is on the way, and everything you planned so perfectly may not go the way you had hoped! Every parent with two or more kids will tell you that dealing with two kids is much more complex, it’s not really one + one… and a question you never really thought of before comes up: what language will the siblings speak to each other?

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World book day

book imagesYesterday we all celebrated books. Wonderful, entertaining, tear- jerking books. It must be my favourite day of the whole year: an opportunity to focus on books and encourage our kids to do the same, dressing up as their favourite character, taking their favourite book to school, swapping books with a friend… revelling in the wonderful pages and even taking part in book sales, story time  or reading marathons at some schools.

But my very favourite part of World Book Day is the initiative in the UK to hand out book tokens to children. Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of lovely book publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, will be distributing more than 14 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children (that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland). The lucky child then has only to swap it for a (exclusive, new and completely free) £1 World Book Day books!

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