Language Challenge 180: Week 9 Check-In

by Corey · 23 comments

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Pin with Us!

As I said last week, I finally got into the latest social media fad: Pinterest! The absolutely best part of it for me this week was that some of joined me in the pinning fun on the Multilingual Living Pinterest page!

Amy is pinning away on the For the Love of Arabic board (she has already added 12 pins!), Alissa and Thea on the For the Love of German board and Alissa on the For the Love of Spanish board. We are having a blast!

We’d love it if you joined us! Want to share resources related to your native language/country? Or maybe a language you are learning? Or what about the Language Learning, Bilingual Homeschooling or Research boards? Just contact us and let’s get you pinning! We would love to have you along for the pinning adventure!

Top 100

As for Language Challenge 180… How did this week go? Did you find out what the most frequent 100 words are in your/your child’s target language? Did you/your child work on using them in sentences?

As we said at the beginning of the week, going through the most frequent words in your target language can be extremely motivating (you realize that you know more than you think!) and it can help you jump start your comprehension and conversations.

Speaking of conversations, did you/your child work on some idioms this week? Even if you never use them, idioms are so prevalent in our languages that it is prudent to start becoming familiar with the most common ones. It can make the difference between understanding what someone said and completely misunderstanding them! I’m sure you can think of examples where a misunderstood idiom lead to less than desirable results!

Stop, Focus and Learn

I notice for me that it is easy to not advance in my language learning when I can understand enough of something to get by. We pick up a lot from context (this is why talking on the telephone can be so tough) which is great for survival but not much of a help for developing our language skills. Since we can easily tune out what is not necessary, we might easily ignore something new in the target language.

The key to advancing is to stop and focus on the bits that we don’t understand 100%. We don’t have to focus on everything that we don’t understand, of course, but we can pick out a few things along the way and focus on them.

  • Reading is a great way to do this because we can take our time. I like to underline sentences and words that I don’t understand and either look them up right away or look them up later.
  • Watching videos and/or TV shows with subtitles in the same language can help with this as well because even if we aren’t sure what was said, we can see the subtitles, stop the program, write down what wasn’t clear and then work on it later. Andrew knows tell us how to do this in his post The Telenovela Method of Learning Spanish (or any other language).
  • Talking with friends or family who are willing to stop and explain things to us is also fantastic! You can just have a conversation together or you can watch a video together. Whatever you do, make sure to stop and at least write down what you didn’t understand so that you can work on it later.

Bilingual Storytime is Fun

This week an inspiring bilingual mother in France shared a post and video with us about a bilingual storytime that she started. Not only is the post inspirational, she shows us how, exactly, they do their storytime in the corresponding video.

As you will see, her storytime is one that is done side-by-side. She reads a page in English and the other woman reads the same page in the French version. This is a wonderful way for children to start getting used to a new language without feeling overwhelmed. The storytime also incorporates in songs and movements in the target language. Since the storytime is only once or twice a week, parents will need to supplement with additional support and resources at home in the target language.

Please check out the article Bilingual Storytime: What Is It? How Do I Do It? Will Anyone Come? and let Rebecca Grossberg know what you think of it. Maybe you do storytime differently in your town? Or maybe you are inspired by what she did and want to know how to start one in your city? Leave a comment and Rebecca will answer you!

Today’s Check-In Activity

  • Check-In Activity: In the comment section below, tell us which word(s) you believe you/your child used the most in your target language this week.
    If your child isn’t speaking yet, then which word(s) did you use the most with your child?
  • Giveaway: After you leave a comment below, head over to the current giveaway and enter! The current giveaway is open to everyone, so tell your friends to check it out and enter!


Don’t forget to visit the Multilingual Living Forum to ask a question, start a discussion or give someone else some support. You do NOT have to log in to post there. We encourage you to check out the Language Challenge 180 section as well as the other sections. And come check us out at Pinterest! We’d love to share with you there!

Keep an eye out for your next email which will arrive on Monday! Keep up the fantastic work!

1 Simon May 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I have a 1-yo, and in (very beginning) Spanish we have been saying a lot of “pelota”, “agua”, “comida”, “gato”, “perro”, “carro”, “hermano”, “escuela” and “casa”. Also “amor”. We have a lot of that! Mucho amor en mi casa! 😀

A question – my (second) little guy has fewer words than my first did. I know that there is a certain amount of natural variation, but I’m curious about the experiences of others – are the rumors about kids raised with more languages speaking later true? My first had English and ASL (with snippets of French and Spanish). My second has English, ASL, as much Spanish and French as I can muster, as well as a sprinkling of Chinese. At the age my second is now (14mos) my fist had about 120 signs. My second has less than 20. For both at this age ASL is the dominant expressive language. Obviously it’s worth a delay to have exposure to multiple languages and he understands a lot. I’m just curious…

2 Amy May 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

just to respond to the Q about learning delays. As far as I can tell (i’ve read up on the topic, have my own two multilingual kids, and have observed others), delays depend more on the individual child than the fact of learning multiple languages.

I remember that 5 words was the minimum benchmark for 18 months according to my pediatrician, and my son had 6. My daughter had MANY more. they are now 7 and 9 years old, and the fact that one child had more words is totally irrelevant now. good luck!

3 Alex May 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm

We got the list , but only my sister ended up working on it. I got carried away this week by reading a novel that I love in English in German. Then, I was busy getting things together for Chinese school, so my German was not doing this week challenge but only the others!

4 Andrew May 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm

the most frequent words i use in arabic are maza bitfa3l? meaning what are you doing.
i use in portuguese most often como e ai? meaning how is it?
turkish i think i use most often is merhaban i say it all the time means hello
french its diffinately comment ca va meaning how are you
russian it would be : gde mogu kupit… meaning where can i buy….

5 Mary Kay May 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Hello. Here are the words that we use most frequently in Bambara:

ji – water
ce – chicken
tulu – lotion
owo – yes
ayi – no
bo ke – poop
ka boyt! – what you yell at sheep to make them run where you want them to
na yan – come here
i sigi – sit down
sabali sa – be careful/watch it
and of course, all our family members’ names

one of the coolest things that happened this week was that I met three women who speak Bambara in the playground down the street from our apartment. One was from Mali. We became fast friends, as did our kids, and Sabou got to see me interacting with people besides Daddy and Dogomani (family friend who braids her hair periodically). By the end of our time together, Sabou was responding Owo naturally to questions instead of yes. I was so impressed with these kids who speak Bambara and English, and I plan to hang out with them much more often. Ala ka bon DE! (God is big)

As for the question about language delays. Here is my experience. There is an 18-month assessment where you are looking at motor skills and communication skills. Well, my daughter failed communication. I was not surprised, but the doctors were like, oh maybe she needs early intervention. I calmly explained to them that she is navigating three languages and I am not surprised, nor am I concerned. They asked me to come back in three months and do the assessment again. In that time, she had reached all these milestones. It is my opinion, and only opinion, that I would not worry about delay at the age of 14 months. I mean each kid, even monolingual kids vary greatly in how they develop. Hang in there.

6 Ebru May 6, 2012 at 1:30 am

Haydi ! (Come on ! in turkish 🙂

7 Jenny May 6, 2012 at 4:56 am

My five-year-old uses action words (cours, saute, marche, etc) and animal words (poisson, oiseau, chien, chat, etc) the most in French. My two-year-old mostly only repeats what I say so far.

8 Michelle May 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

Afrikaans: since our girls are 9 and 8, they are almost fluent in Afrikaans. I’m working on helping them with the irregular verbs – the ones that don’t conjugate like the rest. Since their niece’s dog had 9 puppies this week, we talked a lot about “hondjies”.

Spanish: ¿Como estás? I’m working on este, ese, esta, esa (and getting confused 🙂 )

9 Barb May 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

My seven year old constantly says, “Hola. ¿Cómo estás?” He used to say, “Ay, ay, ay” all the time. I’m glad he’s outgrown that!

10 Donna May 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

на – here (as in ‘Here you are’)
почекай – wait!
будь ласка – please
дай – give!
мені – me
україньскою мовою – in Ukrainian

and other words related to home, school, and homework. Our youngest is finishing fourth grade in Ukrainian school and I try to speak with her in Ukrainian as much as I can, especially when her tutor is here (who is speaking only Ukrainian, but with whom I could communicate much more effectively in Russian).

I didn’t get the 100 words looked up – couldn’t find a decent list – but found a popular novel in Russian and am starting to read it. Although it’s very understandable without knowing all of the words, it has been good to look up all of the new words. It’s very motivating in that the author is writing in a fun style about local places and customs, incorporating a lot of things we encounter in daily life.

I would be thrilled to tap into others’ online Arabic resources. It’s a dream to start on Arabic, but I don’t yet have some good beginning materials.

11 Denisa May 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Please – prosim
Thank you- dakujem
water- voda
sorry- prepac
I love you- Lubim Ta
That’s all I can think of right now. 🙂

12 Emma May 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Bean says “Auto” – car and “Hause” – house most in German; “tapadh leit” – thank you in Gaelic.

13 Murray May 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm

When I am on the telephone with my grandson, I use greetings Bonjour! Comment ca va? Ca va, bien, et tu. Bien. Je t’aime.
A few days ago I had to hang up the telephone , as he was disappointed that I answered, because he wanted to leave me a message. He shouted the message into the phone – BONJOUR! CA VA? CA VA BIEN, I could hear his mother giggling and then it was time for him to run off and play.
I recorded his message. It felt proud.

14 Eduardo Moreno May 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Last week, my 20-mth-old daughter has been using really cool stuff in Korean. Things like “Kenchana” (are you ok?) or “Hajima!” (Stop it). She can also ID about 10 animals. In Spanish, she’s still not very productive, she mostly responds. But I’m so proud that she already can identify a few letters of the alphabet. She can say what letters are “A”, “S” and “N”.

15 Laurie May 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm

We’re beginners in learning Spanish. I’m trying to teach my kids to talk in short sentences. They know lots of nouns and adjectives, but not so many verbs. So I’ve been encouraging a few more verbs into the mix. They’ve been trying out a few phrases, like “son manzanas” and “me gusta la pelota”.

16 Wendy May 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I’m in the same boat with my daughters. They know lots of nouns and adjectives, but they’re not speaking in sentences. We’re starting to read more board books with simple phrases, and that seems to help. If you find any other good resources, please let me know.

17 Monika May 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm

We were on the go a lot this week, so we used “andiamo!” (let’s go!) the most. 🙂 (Italian)

18 Melissa May 7, 2012 at 12:25 am

my boy (almost 2yrs) and English/Brazilian Portugese bilingual has recently discovered the word ‘kaka’ :S He is also getting really good at pointing to body parts and repeating their name- nariz, boca, bunda, mao, pe, olhas, orelhas… he loves the celebrations and exclamations of his cuteness when he does this!

19 Francesca May 7, 2012 at 1:46 am

This is our list:
DADDY – papà
BALL – palla
TEETH – denti
BREAD – pane

… …. 🙂

20 audrey May 7, 2012 at 2:51 am

hola, muy bien, gordo, si, bye bye, uno dos tres cuatro, bad baby..
my 22m old has pickedc up the last phrase from his older brother..

21 Dolinda May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

my 23 month old use oiseau (bird) exclusively (has yet to say the english word).Other words she says a lot
merci beaucoup
couche (diaper)
oiseau vole (bird flies)
avion (plane) and voiture (car)
pot (potty)
She can count to 10 and is starting with the alphabet in both English and French.
She knows a lot of animals and some of the fruits (pomme, fraise, cerise, poire are the most used)
Her latest is “no chercher R. ” (when she does not want to go pick up her cousin from school :-))
we read a lot of the T’Choupi books which are great because they have pics of some of the vocab. She actually understands a fair amount.

We are also expsoing her to some Dutch but much less so she doesn’t really say anything (other than leeuw (lion)) but we listen to music and read occasionally in Dutch.

As far as the language delay concern. In my personal experience I don’t think it makes a difference at all if they are doing one or two or three languages. They may not necessarily know all the same words in both languages but that is OK. I think the norm is to have at least 10-20 words by 18 months. Usually shortly after that they tend to have a “language explosion”. I don’t speak French exclusively to my daughter (since I’m not fluent) but use it daily and we read several books daily as well as watch little Pim almost daily. We also listen to French kids music anytime we are in the car and have been doing so since she was really little. I think language development varies greatly from kid to kid even if they are exposed to just one language. My daughter is a chatty Cathy and is now speaking 3-4 word sentences but her (boy) friend who is the exact same age has much less vocab (his father speaks to him in Spanish as well as English) and is not really speaking in any sentences. Another friend of mine has a 24 month old (girl) who is being raised bilingual (Spanish and English) and also has a large vocab in both English and Spanish. Boys tend to be slower in the language department than girls. So at 14 months I really would not be too concerned about it. I did not try very hard to do sign language with my daughter but tried teaching her 3-4 signs and she never really took to it and never used any of them.

Another lady I know lived in the Netherlands from the time her son was 5 months old until he was 3. He was in Dutch daycare and his parents spoke English. He was delayed and they chalked it up to the bilingual exposure but as it turns out he was truly delayed and the bilingualism just masked it because they just assumed it was because of that.

Again, that is just my personal experience and I am certainly no expert on this. I just thought I would share my observations so far in this multilingual adventure.

22 Wendy May 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

My daughers know a few phrases and many nouns and adjectives: hola, como estas, muy bien, gracias, por favor, roja, verde, casa, flores, cabeza, ojos, etc. Last night we had a small breakthrough where one of my daughters tried to say “Would you give me a ribbon please?” when she was working on an art project. I had to look this up, but I believe it’s “Me darias una cinta, por favor?”

23 Tracey May 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

My girls are basically fluent in spanish (at the age of their peers) and are pretty much speaking in English a wee bit behind but they only have us to practice with and we speak spanish nearly all the time as soon they will be immersed in an English speaking environment. Not really concerned about vocabulary and their verb conjugation is pretty good for their age so no real concerns.

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