S (nearly 22 months) is becoming quite a proficient communicator, now regularly using over 70 signs, along with sounds (like animals, train etc) and a few words. The introduction of signs has really expanded the range of things he can tell us about and has significantly reduced his frustration.
As well as using individual signs he now combines words, signs and sounds together in mini sentences such as:
- ‘drink’ uh oh (The cup fell on the floor)
- ‘where’ ‘daddy’ ‘bath’ (Is Daddy in the bathroom?)
- allí (pointing at sofa) ‘milk’ (Sit down and breastfeed me!)
- ‘nursery’ ‘bike’ (We’re going to nursery by bike today)
S loves to point out the things he notices around him (like animals) and comment on what’s happening (like it’s raining) by doing signs. He can make requests for food (especially biscuits) or ask to go to the park, and he often lets us know he’s paying attention to our conversations by signing the words he recognises as he listens along. This has made me more aware of words and their component parts. The other day we were talking about someone getting married and S starts to do the sign for house. At first I was confused…was he asking to go home? Then I realised he had heard se casa (he’s getting married) not ‘casa’ as in home! Another time I asked him to move into the shade (sombra) and he started doing the sign for hat (sombrero). I’d never really thought of hat and shade being similar, but in Spanish they obviously are!
Another interesting development is how S babbles with his hands and makes up new signs for words he doesn’t know. This keeps us on our toes as he tries to teach us these new signs and we attempt to work out what they mean. Some of the signs are intuitive and turn out to be similar to BSL, such as the sign for hot spicy food, others seem entirely random (eg for avocado he puts one pointed finger up from the top of his head – who knows what that’s all about!).
I’d love to hear about how others are getting along with signing or bilingual language development. Please leave your comments below!