[for 6 months of age on]
Imagine landing in Brazil… Hang on, you don’t know any Portuguese?? And no, Brazilians don’t speak much English really. Oh and you’re there to stay for a while, so you’ll have to start learning some Portuguese eventually! (so really put yourself in your Havaianas while you read this post)…
What would you want the Brazilians to do to help you understand what they are saying?
- Use their hands to point, show or do some natural gestures
things like natural gesture for ‘up’, ‘too big’, ‘drink’, ‘come’
- Talk in single words?
‘bola’ (especially while pointing to that ball?)
- Talk s-l-o-w-l-y so you have time to process all of these new words?
‘when….you (point)…going?’ instead of ‘so when are you going there?’ said slurred together which we can all do
- Maybe accentuate the word they are meaning?
‘você quer CARNE?’ you want MEAT?
What would you want the Brazilians to do to help you get your message across (in Portuguese)?
- Be patient and look like they are really listening and trying to understand you?
- Acknowledge they understand you by repeating the word you said?
- Give you the word when you can only point to/show the item? ‘oh PRATO?’ (plate)
- Model the correct word/grammar if you make a mistake
Now put yourself in your baby’s shoes. They are going through a similar experience (culture shock and all probably!). The best and quickest way to teach your child to communicate is by remembering the above as you guide them to understanding words and then using them.
- Use single words (while they are still learning single words) as much as possible
- Define even the simplest word by pointing, showing, using your hands (natural gesture, keyword signs or make it up!!). This will help your little one to be sure of what you were meaning and to understand and then use the word a lot quicker
- Slow down – give your baby processing time & also time for you to think about how you’ll use your hands to show the message too
- Stress the important words if you have to use a few words
- Be patient and wait for them to process your message AND THEN have time to come up with a way to communicate back to you
- Acknowledge by repeating what they say (even when they continually want your confirmation!)
- Be the language teacher – model the word for them as much as you can
The more the brain hears a word, the quicker it will remember it. Repetition is key!
Along the way, I will be referring to my learning a second language analogy to remind you of the above points. It will really help teach your little one to communicate more quickly.