Raising a bilingual child
Parenthood

Raising a bilingual child – 3 myths

While I was studying child psychology, one module, speech development, was of particular interest to me because we’re raising a bilingual child – she speaks Estonian and English. I did a lot more extracurricular studying for that module and would like to share some myths out there and also draw some real-life examples from our own lives.

Myth #1 – Bilingual children have speech delays

Some children do start speaking later so there are no hard and fast rules they are the bilingual ones and even if there is a delay, it’s just temporary and by school age the differences usually even out. Just so you know what the speech milestones are, here’s a useful table I found. I’m sure there a different versions out there and not all can be 100%, for example, she can name the main colours and counts to 20 in English and 10 in Estonian at three years of age.

Now, speaking from experience, I do believe our daughter’s speech is slightly delayed compared to her peers. Her English speech isn’t as clear or fluent as her friends’ in London and she’s only picking up Estonian phrases since she started kindergarten when she turned three this autumn. I’ve spoken in Estonian to her since her birth but she repeated or remembered only a small portion of words but I’m confident that because I was so insistent in speaking in my mother tongue, she has a perfect understanding of it. And often this is the first huge step towards mastering a new language. I wasn’t too worried when she started state kindergarten in Estonia, I knew she would understand everything, it’s the other way around that concerned me a little, but turns out it’s been going quite smoothly. She has new words, phrases and songs weekly, if not daily! Whether I understand everything she says is a different matter. Also, rather than switch between two languages, she often mixes them up and creates the funniest sentences and she speaks with an accent!

Here’s a wild thought – could her slight delay be because Estonian is such a hard language to learn? I’m really not making this up because according to research based on Foreign Service Institute’s rankings it’s the most difficult Latin alphabet based language to learn for a native English speaker but of course, learning a language is subjective, it also depends on one’s memory capacity and motivation. Still, just saying… 😉

Myth #2 – Bilingual children mix the two languages

Most do while they sort out both languages in their heads. Normally, one of the languages has a stronger influence and the minority language will inevitably borrow words from the majority language vocabulary but again, experts agree on this, that it’s temporary – as the vocabulary improves in both languages, the mixing disappears.

Even bilingual adults mix the languages and I’m a living example. After being abroad for 16 years I speak a dreadful Estonglish, quite often I struggle with the Estonian equivalents and just use English words instead but I’m getting much better as I’m more exposed to Estonian again.

As I already mentioned, her Estonian has come by leaps and bounds since starting Estonian kindergarten and I’m glad I didn’t put her in an international one. The aim while we’re living here is for her to pick up Estonian better than I could have ever taught her. I’m now really curious to see (hear) how her speech develops and at what point she will naturally switch between speaking in English to my husband and in Estonian to me. Until then, I get this: “I magab here”, “I kĂ€isin pissil.”, “It mahub!” and so on…

Myth #3 – It’s too late to raise your child bilingual when they’re older

Yes, it’s true that learning a second language is easier for children under 10, and even easier for children under five, compared with how much effort it takes for adults. Studies show that after puberty, a new language is stored in a separate area of the brain, so a child has to translate or go through their native language as a path to the new language. But it’s never too late! It’s just easier to start earlier.

We are raising a bilingual child by choice. I spoke to her in Estonian before we knew we were moving here so I always knew I’d want her to speak this unique sounding language. A tiny population uses it but would you not want to stand out just because of it? Also, being bilingual has some real advantages – bi- and multi-lingual people are better at observing, multi-tasking, and problem solving. They have a larger working memory even for tasks that don’t require language skills.

If you only speak one language at home but can command another one (something that isn’t taught widely at schools) very well, why not introduce it to your child before they pick up a third or fourth language at school? Here’s a tip though – you need to be very consistent and having them watching TV in Spanish and hoping something will rub off won’t quite cut it. It’s good to have some structure through your daily conversations that are meaningful and connected to real life situations. Story time is a good option and learning songs or playing games in another language as well.

Some fun ideas and strategies for raising a bilingual child.

And some further reading to those interested – a great article on what clinicians need to know about bilingual development.

To have another language is to have another soul.’

Charlemagne

Tallinn Christmas market
Liv's Tallinn

No Christmas market in Tallinn this year

Last week the news broke that Tallinn Christmas market will not be held for obvious reasons and while many people thought it wasn’t a big loss mainly due to its over commercialised appeal with the same vendors year on year I’m extremely sad we won’t be able to experience it fully this winter. I also do kind of agree with them and while I wouldn’t actually buy any Christmas presents from there and it really is overpriced, it holds a magical place in my heart.

Continue reading “No Christmas market in Tallinn this year”
Torela mÀngutuba
Liv's Tallinn

Torela mÀngutuba

Me saabusime Eestisse umbes aasta aega tagasi ja peaaegu nii kaua oleme ka sellises vahvas mĂ€ngutoas kĂ€inud nagu Torela! TĂ”si kĂŒll, viimasel ajal ei ole enam sinna jĂ”udnud, sest plika kĂ€ib nĂŒĂŒd lasteaias, aga sellegi poolest plaanin varsti teha talle vaba pĂ€eva, et saaksime mĂ€nguhommikut taas kĂŒlastada.

Vaata vÀikest galeriid me esimesest korrast novembris kuni selle aasta suveni:

MĂ€letan ĂŒhte varajast novembrihommikut, kui mĂ”tlesin, mida temaga jĂ€rjekordselt peale hakata. Rentisime Kalamajas korterit ja hakkasin igapĂ€evasest jalutuskĂ€igust Balti Jaama turule ja Telliskivi Loomelinnakusse Ă€ra tĂŒdinema, teisisĂ”nu olime hakanud oma uue piirkonnaga Ă€ra harjuma ja oli vaja leida uusi lĂ”bustusi. Kiire Google’i otsing tĂ”i esile mitu lĂ€hedalasuvat mĂ€ngutuba ning esimeseks osutus Torela, kuhu ma tol hommikul ka otsustasin temaga kĂ€rutada. Ma ei osanud arvata, et sellest me uus lemmik hangout saab!

Mulle meeldis, et hinna sees on kohv ning suupisted. Ma ei tea mitte ĂŒhtegi ema, kes ĂŒtleks Ă€ra hommikukohvist, olgu see esimene, teine vĂ”i juba koguni kolmas tass (no judging!). Londoni soft play ruumides selline asi tavapĂ€rane ei olnud, ikka tuli toidu eest juurde maksta, kui selline vĂ”imalus ĂŒldse esines. Tihtipeale tĂ”in ma kaasa ka oma sĂŒlearvuti, et asju ajada ning need paar tunnikest vĂ”isid pĂ€ris asjalikult mööduda. Vahel aga veetsin terve hommiku temaga pĂ”lvili pĂ”randal mĂ€ngides ja teiste emadega jutustades. MĂ€ngimiseks on seal palju huvitavaid vĂ”imalusi, tĂŒtre lemmikuks kujunes vist kööginurk ja pallimeri ja mulle meeldis Duplodest maju ehitada. 🙂

KĂŒlastasime ka mitmeid teisi mĂ€ngutubasid, aga Torela mĂ€nguhommikutel kĂ€imisest sai meie uus rutiin. Meile sobis see asukoht – kui me lĂ”puks oma korterisse kolisime, siis olime siiski piisavalt lĂ€hedal, et soojemal ajal sain isegi rattaga sinna sĂ”ita, ja mulle meeldis, et olin perenaistega sĂ”pradeks saanud. Meil ei olnud mitte kuskil mujal nii sooja vastuvĂ”ttu ja ma arvan, et see sai ka peamiseks pĂ”hjuseks, miks seal mĂ”nel nĂ€dalal lausa kaks korda kĂ€isin. Ju oli ka minul vaja uut harjumust uues linnas kohanemiseks ning Torela aitas meid just sellega. AitĂ€h, et olemas olete ja aitasite meil sisse elada!

Minge ka uudistama!

https://www.facebook.com/Torelamangutuba

https://www.instagram.com/torelamangutuba/

You can't pour from an empty cup
Liv's Tallinn, Parenthood

Mothers, don’t be afraid to ask for help

When I moved back to Estonia last year I noticed lots of mum mentioning how tired they were. At the same time people looked at me funny when I put my then 2-year old to bed at 7-8pm. That’s how ‘selfish’ I am, because I want to live my own life too.

Continue reading “Mothers, don’t be afraid to ask for help”
Parents should learn child psychology
Parenthood

How you can use child psychology to understand your kid better

I’ve just finished child psychology studies and received Level 4 Diploma via distance learning from the UK. I studied it so I could understand my child better. It gave me a good foundation and further interest to keep exploring some subjects deeper.

Instead of training children to meet the expectations of adults, we should be training adults to meet the psychological, emotional, and developmental needs of children.” – Zoe Tolman

Continue reading “How you can use child psychology to understand your kid better”
Weight loss after mirena coil
Health

Body positivity – believe in your body!

There’s actually a whole other reason why I shared this post on Instagram yesterday.

Body positivity weight loss mirena coil

Since having my daughter I’ve remained a bit heavier than in my pre-pregnancy days and I’ve been moaning about it for years because I absolutely didn’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe. By some miracle I’ve lost about 2kg since moving to Estonia and finally, this summer, I started to celebrate my body more again. Fine, I’m not as athletic as before and I’m now softer and curvier. But my belly is the softest pillow for my daughter when she cuddles up 😆 🧾. My goal is to lose a few more but I’m in no rush and what comes off slower stays off longer!
And before anyone slams me for wanting to lose only a few kilos âœ‹đŸŒ it’s my body and only I know when I’m happiest in my skin! Here’s to #mumbods, they’re all amazing!

Continue reading “Body positivity – believe in your body!”

Health, Parenthood

Miks nii paljudel (emadel) on tass tĂŒhi?

Eelmises eestikeelses postituses kirjeldasin, kuidas me elusse Eestis sulandume ja kuna olen veel lapsega kodune, siis olen hakanud pingsalt ostma ja lugema kohalikke ajakirju, mis on peredele suunatud, et rohkem aru saada, kuidas siinsed emad elavad ja mis on vĂ€ikelaste emadele aktuaalne. Continue reading “Miks nii paljudel (emadel) on tass tĂŒhi?”

Liv's Tallinn, Travel

Justkui vĂ€lismaalane enda kodumaal

Kirjutan vĂ€ikese seeria blogipostitusi eesti keeles, kirjeldades meie kohanemist, ja tundus, et seda on Ă”igem teha oma emakeeles. VĂ”ib-olla hiljem tuleb tuju need inglise keelde ka ĂŒmber kirjutada, kuna siiani olen bloginud vaid selles keeles. Continue reading “Justkui vĂ€lismaalane enda kodumaal”

Digital society e-Estonia
Liv's Tallinn

The world’s most advanced digital society

I was already writing a post about how easy it was to set up our lives here, in Tallinn, and then my US friend from London sent over this article and commented how interesting she found it. The New Yorker writes how Estonia’s economy is bound to tech – its government is digital, and most services in the country either are or can be provided electronically. People vote online; the ID-card securely stores each Estonian’s personal information, including health, tax, and police records; one can even establish residency and begin paying taxes in the country digitally—effectively immigrating online. 

Continue reading “The world’s most advanced digital society”