Thursday, February 4, 2010

Watch your language

Freshman year in high school was as painful for me as it is for most people on earth. Add a big growth spurt on top of everything else, and, wow. Just wow. I wonder how so many billions of people make it through pubescence alive.

One bright spot was starting Spanish class. I discovered that I really liked learning another language. Seeing a person's face light up when I attempted their native tongue thrilled me. I even learned more about my own language (gerunds and dipthongs anyone?)

Other languages followed. I taught myself several hundred ASL signs. When I went on to college, I continued studying Spanish and began formal ASL classes. I bought myself a learn-to-speak French software program (but discovered I'd had enough of Romance languages.) While overseas, I studied a bit of modern Hebrew. Upon arrival back in the States, I took three semesters of Arabic. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but why didn't I major in linguistics???

I married a man who is a born linguist. He speaks Portuguese and Arabic (but would claim that he is rusty at both.) What would naturally follow, but children who are linguistically gifted?

Our firstborn was diagnosed with a speech delay. Then our second-born was diagnosed with many things, the least of which was a speech delay. I've kept an eagle eye (ear?) on our third. It can't be called paranoia when there's a rock-solid reason to worry, right?

But, hey, who better to raise children with language problems than parents who have a knack for language, right? Turns out, the sign language I studied came in pretty handy with those kiddos. With hearing children, the use of sign flows pretty smoothly into spoken language.

Now I play language games with my third son. He gets me all to himself during the day. We were in the car and I was working on beginning consonant sounds. I asked,

"What letter makes the 's' sound? Like 's', 's', 'snow'?"


"That's 'esssss.'" I prompted.

We worked on other words we saw along the road, then I tried to mix it up.

"What letter makes the 'm', 'm', 'muh' sound, like 'milk'?"

He was quiet for a moment, then he called out,

"That starts with the letter 'cow'!"

He was so proud of himself.

1 comment:

Allie said...

This post reminded me of when Andrew (who also had a speech delay) was three and I asked him what sound various letters made. He was doing fairly well, until I asked him about "B". He sat quietly for a moment trying to figure it out. Then his eyes lit up and he said, "The B sound is ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ."

He was very confused about animal sounds and letter sounds it turned out.