When adopted children come home to live with their new families, they are immersed in a new language. During this time, they will probably go through several very predictable stages. We’ve got the perfect tips to help your young one with their second language acquisition!
One of these is a silent period, when they are taking in the spoken language and listening, but they might not feel ready to speak it. During this time of normal non-fluency, we should not overwhelm them with too much language. When they become fatigued, they might need time to mentally rest.
Children who are old enough to speak their native language might also go through a code switching stage. This means that as they begin to use their new language, they will use both languages in one sentence. At this stage, they are trying to maintain two vocabularies and retrieve the words that they need. This is a complicated process for them to do.
Children who have been institutionalized have often not had the variety of experiences that help a child’s mouth to develop correctly. It is important that a baby have the chance to strengthen and develop their mouth, jaw and tongue muscles by chewing a variety of textures. If a child has difficulty with forming speech sounds, a speech therapist can evaluate the child and make recommendations for therapy.
Adoptive parents always ask what they can do to help their children. Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate helpful techniques into your daily life. First of all, be a model for your child. This means that when a child says something in error, the parent repeats the word or sentence with the necessary corrections. By using this technique, a parent is able to provide a model of the sound without constantly correcting the child. For example, if your child says, “I tee a tow,” the parent then repeats it back correctly by saying, “You’re right, I see a cow too.”
In addition, a parent can help by expanding a child’s responses. This refers to repeating what the child has said, but adding more information. For instance, if a child says “cow” the parent can expand this word by saying: “Yes, there is a big cow.” “That cow is black and white.” “Cows live on farms.”
The main thing a parent can do is to use language in everything that you do. Use lots of adjectives to describe and to enrich their vocabulary. It sort of sounds like a running commentary, but a parent can say: “Now I will get the glasses down for your orange juice. Next I will get the pitcher of orange juice out of the refrigerator. Oh look, a light come on in the refrigerator!”
Use specific labels for objects rather than saying: “Please bring me that thing.” Teach them the specific word, rather than “thing.” Use sequencing words, such as before, after, next and first. When you read them books, have them predict the outcome by asking, “What do you think will happen next? Why?” This gives them opportunities to develop early problem-solving skills.
There are many more opportunities for expanding your child’s vocabulary. During a daily activity such as taking a bath, you can have your child name body parts, name items in the bathtub, use prepositions, like “Your hands are under the water.” or “The towel is beside the tub,” and discuss the temperature of the water. As you dress your child, name the articles of clothing that the child is putting on. Expand your child’s vocabulary by giving alternative names for similar clothing items. Name the color of the clothing, and talk about the kind of fabric that is used to make clothing.
Other opportunities for building vocabulary include preparing and eating meals, getting ready for bed, and imaginative play with toys. Of course one of the best things that you can do for your child is to read to them.
There are many things to talk about when reading a book–don’t feel like you can only read the written words. Nursery rhymes and songs are very entertaining for children. They are important for developing sequencing and pattern recognition in reading. Songs for children can involve clapping, tickles, movement, singing fast or slow, loud or soft. There are many books with music that are fun for children.
Lastly, play with your child! As you participate in imaginative play with your child, you will help them learn to make sense of the real world. Imaginative play offers many rich opportunities for language development. Children can be involved in imaginative play either through toys or dolls, or with real-life clothing, hats, and handbags.
If you’re wanting more tips and professional help, then find a passionate, dedicated professionals like the staff at Greater Learning LP. We’re here for you and your family in your journey toward healthier living.