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Signing With Babies And Children: Give the Gift of Language

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Give the Gift of Language

The holidays bring a spirit of giving. I thought about the gift of language and how through communication, we understand each other more and draw closer to each other.

And as the new year is approaching, I strongly encourage those of you at home who know more than one language, to strive and find out what works for you in teaching those languages.

This does not work for every household, but between my husband and I, I speak English to our children and he speaks Vietnamese. I predominantly am the one teaching sign language along with those spoken languages, and my husband tries to use the signs he knows to bridge the two languages together.

I realize that with giving the gift of language, my daughter of 20 months, is choosing which communication method works best for her as she is bridging the three languages together in her own way.

For instance, when she was not able to vocally produce the word “dirty,” she simply said the Vietnamese word for dirty which sounds like “yuh.” Around the age of one, as I would say "dirty" and sign, she would say "yuh" and sign dirty. She understood that all three languages meant the same thing.

At other times, when she was not able to vocally produce a word, she would sign that word. She signed “milk” for a very long time, and then all of the sudden around 16 months, I noticed she was not signing “milk” any more. It was because she was saying “milk.”

And some times my daughter chooses her own language... body language. For instance, my daughter doesn’t say the word “frog” in Vietnamese or English, nor does she use the sign, but she does insist on bouncing her whole body up and down while saying “ribbit, ribbit” each time she sees a frog. She’s communicating and giving me a gift of laughter.

The power of communication is in her hands... in many different ways.

Happy Holidays! Written by Shawna Tran:

1 comment:

Baby Fingers said...

The perfect gift. :)