Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bilingual Boys

I am so fascinated by the way children's minds/brains work. For the past 2 years, I have watched my boys become suddenly immersed in learning a new language. Big was almost 3 1/2 when we got here, so he was clearly already well-versed in the English language. He knew a few words in Hebrew that he had learned from the JCC PreSchool or that we had taught him at home, but he was nowhere near fluent. Shortly after arriving, he started his new school, entirely in Hebrew. Progress was slow at first, but it's incredibly amazing to me that now he is more or less fluent. I hear him chattering away with his friends at school and he explains to me what is happening on the tv shows. And he now thinks it's normal for Dora to speak Hebrew and English instead of English and Spanish!
With Little, it's been a different experience. He was only 9 months old when we moved and didn't talk yet. He went to an English-speaking daycare for the first year that we were here because I wanted to be sure that he learned English properly before learning Hebrew. I was worried about his language development because he was still not speaking very much (in either language) by his 2nd birthday. I think he was just confused by hearing 2 languages all the time because we went to America for 6 weeks shortly after he turned 2 and his speech completely blossomed in that time. That was just in time for him to start preschool in a Hebrew-speaking school. His spoken Hebrew is nowhere near as good as his English, but his teacher says he understands everything. I'm not sure that he completely knows the difference between the 2 languages because he throws in random Hebrew words here and there mid-sentence.
It's just amazing what their little minds can absorb!!


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