Monday, November 26, 2007

Siblings talk




This weekend I tuned in to Milo and Zeno's exchanges. The Belgian grandparents were visiting, so Milo had the chance to boost up his Dutch big time: in two days he picked up a good 25 new words or so, not to mention new songs. For the fisrt time I also heard him address Zeno in Dutch, during an intricated game involving boats and commanders and other naval items. It is mainly in Italian otherwise, especially if I am around. And on some occasions, when Milo is playing by himself and is concentrated in his game, he would sometime mumble in French (perhaps repeating some of the games from kindergarden) and if Zeno wants to get involved, Milo would typically try to distance him in French.

Zeno seem to speak more clearly with us, the parents, when we solicitate a direct exchange on a specific topic. I make him repeat a lot of words when we eat, or when we read and look at pictures. With Milo the exchange is mainly very physical, he seeks his attention by stealing Milo's toys and running away, for instance. Yesterday also for the first time he tried to call Milo by his name: he woke up from the nap and I heard him from the crib calling out :" Mooooo!". Milo was rather amused. If you're interested in the subject, Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, author of abook on OPOL and bilingual parenting, is currently researching case studies from multilingual families on siblings communications. Her blog describes her project and has a poll as well.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I found your fantastic blog just before you went on hiatus, so I'm glad you're feeling well enough to post regularly again. My wife just had our first baby in August, and I'm trying to make sure she grows up speaking Spanish as well as she speaks English. So far I'm right on track, since she knows the exact same number of words in each language: 0. At three months I'm not worried though!

Brikebrok said...

Do your children meet in Paris other belgian-italian children ?

Clo said...

Welcome to MTK, anonymous, and enjoy the fantastic ride of raising a multilingual child!

Vera, that's a very pertinent question: unfortunately we have not hooked up yet with other Flemish speakers in Paris, they seem hard to find. As for Italian, we know a few and yes they do play together!

Sara said...

i wonder if they will start speaking French to eachother when they are older/in school
I know some young school age twins in Austria who have 2 Croatian parents (which is what they speak at home to the parents) but they refuse to speak anything but German to each other