Saturday, 20 February 2010

Missing out on Finesse?

Does any of our readers happen to know whether there is research on a possible correlation of parents' use of language and the time when children start to speak?

I have a theory: my daughters build sentences later than some of their monolingual friends because I do not speak with my wife in my native tongue.

Let me explain.

One of our friends' 2yo daughter is building sentences while BK2 is still at the stage where she uses at most two words together or speaks her own babbling. I am not concerned or anything but I wondered whether the fact that her mother studied languages and expresses herself extremely well helped the girl develop a better framework in her head while she acquired her language skills.

In our case this doesn't happen. I love talking, writing and reading German. I love playing with it. I am able to be a total nitpicker or use my German fairly creatively. But that only works well with people who are similarly eloquent. It certainly does not work with a 4-year-old like BK1. It also doesn't work for me when I speak English or French.

I'm sad to say that my daughters lose out on this aspect of German completely! And not only that: they do not see any of their parents use language in a way that we both are truly capable of. It is not a fundamental flaw in the OPOL method, though. Even between the two of us, we are not able to gauge the linguistic abilities of the other properly.

Makes me wonder whether my children would have been able to speak more refined German had both their parents been German-speakers...

I am an optimist. I am willing to bet that once they start reading books, they will be able to catch up or maybe even more than that: catch up for more than just one language.