This is a very difficult word to describe a very difficult thing to achieve. I know people (like myself) who worked the best part of two decades to learn a second language at a level good enough to be considered “fluent”. So why are we surprised that bilingual children are delayed in their speech development? It’s not only normal, but predictable: they will take longer as they are doing double the work. And yet a child who doesn’t speak at 18 months is seen as “behind”.
As a parent of two bilingual children who can only say 3 words together (in fact only one of them can talk at all), I feel constantly under scrutiny.
When the twins were younger the questions was “do they sleep through the night yet?”. Now the question is “are they talking yet?”. My answer is always the same “No, but they sleep through the night now”. Some people look at me blankly, some smile politely and some ignore me and carry on as nothing has happened. I’m a parent of twins, every night in which they sleep through it still feels special to me. Even 18 months into it.
Maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe I’m hoping for proper understandable words, when I should keep my eye out for “baby words”. So “ssssh” is in fact “shoes” and “ga” is “gatto” (the Italian for cat). In that case then I will have to pay more attention about their favourite word “ca” or “ka”. Everything between the two of them is “ca”, but which “ca”? Is it an Italian word like cavallo, carota, calze o cane? Is it an English word maybe? Car, cap, cup… who knows! If most of the words in their vocabulary does starts with “ca” is not really their fault, poor boys!
I’ll read them more books and speak to them more. I will turn the tv and any background sounds off. I will also repeat every word a million of times. But in the end I’ll just wait till they will speak two languages and been seen as “advanced”.
It will be worth the wait, I’m sure!