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Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow - Oliver Wendell Holmes

>> 5 September 2008

My oldest son, who is 2 years and 3 months, is currently realising what language is and what words are. He is being brought up with two languages (Dutch and French) using the OPOL method (One Person One Language). When he goes to school next year he will be taught a third, Luxembourgish.

So far he speaks better Dutch simply because he hears more of it more often due to the number of people who speak it to him. But he clearly knows that daddy speaks French and sometimes when my husband says something new or complicated to him he looks at me and asks 'what does daddy say?'.

Up until recently he never questioned anything we fed him language-wise, but for the last few weeks he is really trying to say the words right, pronounce the 's' etc.

Yesterday in the car I told him that we would do some 'crafting' in the afternoon. The Dutch word is 'knutselen'. (I guess the English translation would be 'putter': to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner). He tried to say it but couldn't get around the 'kn' in the beginning in combination with the 'ts' in the middle (he'd say 'kutselen' or knutelen'). I kept repeating the word to him and he kept getting it wrong. I thought it was cute.

Suddenly he says: 'This is difficult in the mouth'. :-)

And he was of course completely right. Dutch is not an easy language on the tongue and throat. It was the first time he seemed to have realised that it's all about how the mouth and the tongue move to make a certain sound.

He finally did get it right and was really happy and proud to have gotten it right. Now he seems to want to learn funny words all the time and prounounce them right :-)
We are currently reading Dr Suess and I am glad to have found the books in Dutch. I mean, some books you can just translate on the go. But not Dr Suess...!


Tink 5 September 2008 at 12:05  

Yep, Dutch isn't easy. :) Do you know dutchgrammar.com? they have pronunciation mp3's. Also a nice one: http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html

Groetjes uit Holland! :)

Wendy 5 September 2008 at 15:17  

This is so smart, to teach them multiple languages now. Those sounds he's learning now will be with him forever - I have read that if you don't learn them before the age of 3, you will never be a native speaker, because of the sounds. After age 3, our ability to learn these sounds as a native is basically gone (except for the gifted, I guess). Just very cool. As he gets older, because he knows multiple languages already, his ability to learn other new languages will be very good.

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