This is the final part of my series dedicated to our summer trip to Mexico, a first for our toddler. It focuses on the most talked about aspect of bilingualism – language development.
We are excited to report that S is finally saying a few words! Whether or not the relaxed coastal atmosphere of Puerta Vallarta or being surrounded by Spanish speaking family members helped trigger his speech, who knows. But his first few words certainly had a tropical feel to them. In fact, yesterday we were looking at a book and he saw a drawing of a box of apples and said ‘coco’. I laughed to myself thinking there can’t be many English children who mistake apples for coconuts!
Coco was one of S’s first words
During our stay in Mexico he learnt to say the names of several family members including Tía (eeaa), Quique (kiki), Alejandra (nana) and really got the hang of no, Mamá and Papá which he’d just began saying before our trip. Tía Ingrid was also very proud of the fact that she taught him to say GOL (with arms outstretched) to match his mini Chivas football shirt.
S has had a slow start with his language resulting from temporary hearing problems. It’s so exciting to finally hear him say some words. Since we returned from Mexico, he’s added más (ma), pipi (titi) and popó to his Spanish vocab along with agua (wawa) and a few English words – key, car and more. I am hoping his English will also develop further now he’s started two days a week at his new Montessori School. In fact, we’ve been lucky as he’s been allocated a key worker from Madrid.
During our trip we noticed his understanding of Spanish also growing. I think it must be helpful for him to hear a range of different people speaking to him in Spanish and not just Mamá and Papá at home. It’s been funny to hear him confusing words with similar sounds like huevo with juego and llave with agave. Another funny moment was when la Abuela told him to be careful of the ants because they bite. From then on every time he saw ants (which is quite a lot) he began to do the sign for spicy food (the verb picar is used for to bite and to be hot/spicy in Mexico)!
I was also excited to find an excellent selection of Spanish language children’s books in Guadalajara at a book shop called Gandhi. After my disappointment while shopping for books for toddlers in Madrid I didn’t have high expectations. However we found a few gems which scored points not just for language but especially for culture, here are a few below. I’ve added linked to amazon.com where they are available in the US.
Que te pico la hormiga de los pies a la barriga? – I love this little board book because it rhymes and it chimed with us as we’d seen lots of ants, and joked about them during our stay in Mexico.
Suena México – This book has brilliant quirky illustrations, but best of all, it evokes all the sounds from the streets. During our stay we heard el gassss and aaggguaaa being called out in the streets, and S was fascinated by the characteristic whistle of the afilador de cuchilos (a mobile knife sharpener).
de la A a la Z Por Jalisco – Another cultural gem, this book works its way through the alphabet and around Jalisco naming a local tradition, place or person. An excellent way to learn about local history and culture, with beautiful illustrations. S particularly loves the Mariachi singer on the back cover. They also do a version for Mexico as a country which I would like to track down.
I’d love to hear how your toddler’s language development is going? Do you have any funny tales or books to recommend?