Friday 19 March 2010


I found out yesterday that BK1 counts in English exclusively, at least when she counts down from 10.

She was sitting in the bathtub singing "10 little ducks" and at some point switched to just counting from 10 to 0 in English. She then looked at me and started at 10 again, this time in German.

"Zehn ... Neun ... Acht ... ... ... wie sagt man ...? ... ... Ah! Sieben!" ("10 ... 9 ... 8 ... ... ... how do you say ...? ... ... ah! 7!")

It sounds like she had to translate "seven" to "Sieben" while she was doing it. I guess what that means is that counting or at least counting down is an English thing for her. Probably because she has learned to do it at school.

Must remember to do more counting with her. In German of course!


  1. look at your family language diagram...Does it means that your BK2 is not speaking a word yet (no arrow outside) ?

  2. Hi Anonymous!

    She does speak words, and we are able to tell what language they are from, but I was reluctant to put arrows as long as she did not speak sentences or at least put words together.

    She has been doing that for a week or two now, and the diagram will soon be updated.

  3. Interesting thoughts on numbers. I (non-native French) have always had a difficult time with numbers and have to concentrate very hard to get them right - I have theory because this is because they are exact, but not really sure why. (I was not raised bilingually.) My boys learned to count in French early, but now, I can tell their number sense is weaker in French than English (we are in US). Good reminder to resolve to work on numbers (and age-appropriate) math with them more.

  4. Son of Thor still has difficulty when it comes to counting in English.

    I noticed it the other day when we were doing his English based maths programme and I heard him muttering the Italian under his breath before vocalizing the English.

    When it comes to the higher numbers he finds the "and" business a real pain.

  5. My son (2.75) sometimes switches from German to English (and sometimes vice versa) in either counting or the alphabet. He also likes to leave numbers and letters out. We haven't tried counting down yet. I try to remember to count when we go up or down stairs — maybe that's when you could practice counting down in German with her. :)

  6. @bloggingonbilingualism - I find French numbers and particularly French arithmetic really hard. It's probably that weird structure (e.g. soixantequinze). I am always amazed French can memorise phone numbers the way they can.

    @Sarah For BK1 it's the opposite. But the difference between "and" and "plus" is only starting to sink in.

    @Lauren I am a geek, I _always_ count stairs. Need to do it loud, I guess.


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