Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Learning Japanese and English at the same time

Late last year and earlier this year I began writing about raising my son to be a bilingual child. His first language, Japanese, was progressing quickly and his English was coming along as well.

Fast forward ahead to April 2013 and my son is now 2 years 8 months old. Naturally, both languages have been progressing rapidly and his ability to communicate with others and express himself has grown by leaps and bounds. He can speak to his mother and Japanese adults/children in full, yet simple sentences. He is also able to understand most of what he hears.

Having entered the world of the Terrible Two's so his favorite phrases in both Japanese and English are, "I don't want to" and "I can't."

In English, his basic vocabulary continues to grow quickly. His language bank of nouns, verbs and adjectives is expanding, but he can struggle when it comes to putting them together. Sometimes his storytelling sessions are very easy to understand while at other times it's more of a challenge for me to fully comprehend.

I think one of the most interesting recent aspects of his language development has been his language switching. He now seems to have made the distinction in his mind that he speaks Japanese to Mommy (who is Japanese) and English to Daddy (moi...a Canadian dude). My wife often speaks English to him and even a few months ago he would reply to her in English, but now he won't. He only speaks to my wife in Japanese no matter what language she uses with him. On top of that, he even seems somewhat annoyed when she does speak to him in English. I'm assuming that people out there in a similar family makeup have had similar experiences.

We're continuing to give him the opportunity to watch lots of English TV and movies which have helped. He definitely learns from watching Cars, Toy Story (1,2 and 3), Finding Nemo and others and it's obviously helping his listening skills as well.

His English progress may start to slow over the next two months though. He will be attending Japanese day care leading up to the time my wife has our second child and for about a month afterwards. That coupled with my longer working/commuting hours with my new job means he'll be exposed to almost no English on a daily basis until June.

I'm sure he'll be fine, but I have to admit that I'm somewhat stressed about his upcoming "lack of English."

I'll let you know how things go in upcoming posts.


Soft Otaku said...

I am still single, but I think about this issue a lot. Thanks for sharing how things are going with you. I really appreciate the opportunity to get a glimpse at how this works itself out. I know there are loads of books on the subject, but.... My current and longtime girlfriend is awesome, but only uses Japanese with me (because my Japanese skills are so STELLAR! HA!) but she understands wicked amounts of English. Anyway, I have told her that if we get married and our child doesn't have a clue about English, we might need to move to the U.S. for a while. (I would prefer Canada, actually, but I am American and it's just easier.) I am rambling. Thanks for sharing.

Turner said...

So what would he yell? できăȘい?