What did you say?

We live in a household that we could communicate in at least three languages well English, Afrikaans, Portuguese and others not so well such as French and Swazi\Xhosa. Since before JJ arrived we have debated and agreed that we would speak both English and Portuguese to him so that he is able to speak to all his relatives with ease.

So since his arrival, hubby has been speaking to him JJ in English as does the nanny, and I kinds speak to him in Portuguese but, yes, every so often when we’re communicating the English language creeps in and I find myself having to stop myself  and reverting to Portuguese.


Question I have though is, is it having any effect on him?  His godmother blessed him with a ton of books in Portuguese, which we read to him at every opportunity,but does he understand any of it? I’ve also heard, that because we speak to him in more than one language, he could take up to his second year of life before he starts saying sensible words. Aren’t we just confusing him? I know that long term he will benefit from understanding and conversing in more than one language… but is it too soon?

I came across this article on CaloraBaby, that has given me hope and motivation to share more words in Portuguese with him. If you too are in two minds, or live in a bilingual home .. don’t give up! Your child will only benefit from it!

“WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) — Babies living in bilingual homes have a longer period of time when their brain is flexible to different languages than infants living where just one language is spoken, researchers say.

The new study looked at infants living in bilingual (English and Spanish) and monolingual homes (English or Spanish), and found that the brains of babies in bilingual homes remained flexible to languages until they were 10 to 12 months old, compared with 6 to 9 months for babies in monolingual homes.

The extended brain flexibility of bilingual infants may be due to their exposure to a greater variety of speech sounds at home, the University of Washington researchers suggested.

The investigators also found that the relative amount of English or Spanish the babies were exposed to affected their vocabulary as toddlers. For example, the more Spanish they heard as infants, the more Spanish words they knew when they were 15 months old.

The study was published online Aug. 17 in the Journal of Phonetics.

“The bilingual brain is fascinating because it reflects humans’ abilities for flexible thinking — bilingual babies learn that objects and events in the world have two names, and flexibly switch between these labels, giving the brain lots of good exercise,” co-author Patricia Kuhl, director of the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, said in a university news release.

Learning more about the brain mechanisms that enable infants to learn multiple languages could help boost bilingualism in adults, she and her colleagues said.”