My beautiful little daughter, 19 months old, is being raised with a mother who speaks English most of the time, and a father who speaks Portuguese. Our conversations are in English and Portuguese. While I understand Portuguese well, it is effortless for me to speak English. My sweetheart understands English well, but it is easier for him to speak Portuguese. My son, the genius that he is, is fluent in both languages and speaks them often. Because of this, my daughter, 19 months old, understands both languages perfectly.
Ours is not an entirely unique language situation, but it does make my daughters speaking and word choices very interesting…(mixing languages is common in bilingual babies, and is perfectly normal!)
I have read that bilingual babies tend to speak later. I don’t know if that is true, at least in our case. My daughter knows many words, and has an impressive vocabulary. She prefers asking for “agua” but if I ask her if she wants some water, she knows exactly what I am saying. She describes some of her body parts using the Portuguese words ( foot, butt, head, hands, and mouth), but, she uses the English words when pointing to her knee, elbows, nose, belly button, and eyes. She decides which word she prefers, and she speaks her own blend of Portuglish. She is learning so fast, and saying new words everyday. In terms of understanding, she truly understands two languages.. sometimes it is shocking how smart she is.
Some people say that learning two languages is difficult and confusing for babies. And others, say the best time to teach your child a second language, is when they are learning their first. And In our case, the latter has proven true. The earlier the exposure, the better. What a gift to give our children, on so many levels. Vamos!!! 🙂