The Rise of the Dominant Language

multilingualkidsRecently, my son spoke these words to my husband, while communicating an injury incurred by aggressively chasing bubbles at our local children’s gym:

Apo (아파 – ‘It hurts’ – Korean). Düştü (fell – Turkish). At gym,” he said while pointing at his foot.

In my last post I covered early intervention and speech therapy for my two-year-old son, and how we tried and then later stopped using speech therapy. It is now almost a year later, and the developments have been both great and interesting in how they’ve developed with each language. Where he has made leaps in English, he has taken steps in Turkish. With some exposure to Korean, he has a few expressions and songs under his belt. Continue reading “The Rise of the Dominant Language”

My Late-Talking, Bilingual Child: Early Intervention and Speech Therapy

When I initially started this blog I thought it would be primarily focused on my son’s multi-lingual language acquisition. Little did I know that I was in for a much more intense experience as we encountered an actual speech delay. I’d like to share my experience not only as a written journal for myself, but for any other parents out there going through a similar scenario. Bear in mind, every family will approach this differently and you may disagree with me. But I think some parents will find reassurance in our story. I know I did while reading the accounts of other parents with late-talking children. I’ll try to summarize the whirlwind of what’s happened during the last several months into three sections: Early Intervention, Speech Therapy, and Where We are Now.  Continue reading “My Late-Talking, Bilingual Child: Early Intervention and Speech Therapy”

Delayed Speech in a Bilingual Toddler

The Decision to Seek Evaluation

My son just turned two. He is bright, curious, and an expert at nonverbal communication.

His second birthday meant a checkup at the doctor, and an assessment of his developmental milestones. When we got to speech, I knew what was coming. You see, he still only has a handful of words, mostly monosyllable nouns.


Speech Delay

A speech delay. Despite my obsession with his language acquisition, I am trying to remain calm so as not to pass on any anxiety to my sweet boy. People’s reactions tend to lean toward consolation, “Lots of kids go through delays like this, then they never stop talking!” Also, “If his comprehension is good then that’s what’s more important.” These are true, but then there is also the inevitable, “Well he’s learning two languages, right? It’s probably that.” Maybe it is a factor, but there’s actually no solid evidence that links bilingual language acquisition with a speech delay. Continue reading “Delayed Speech in a Bilingual Toddler”

Small Stepping Stones in Two Languages

bilingualbabyMy son is now 21 months old. He’s still not speaking. Not really anyway. He’s “behind” on his spoken language development, but it is definitely happening.

Using Two Languages

He has picked up several new words since my last post three months ago, and his receptive abilities continue to grow. His first word apart from “Baba” (Dad) and “Mama” (which he responds to but uses only on occasion) was “clock.” I watched with delight as he pointed to the clock on the wall, then the picture in his book, made the connection and uttered “cwaaak.” Now he sees clocks everywhere, pointing them out as he goes.

He’s also picked up Turkish “orada” as well as the English version, “over there” which he uses interchangeably. He also says Turkish “burada” (here), which he does not say in English. Continue reading “Small Stepping Stones in Two Languages”

Watching and Waiting – Delayed Language

mother-and-child_sihouetteLike so many others, I started a blog and then tapered off in my writing. This was partially due to not dedicating(having!) time, but also because this blog is about multilingualism and my son. And I am still waiting on my son’s speech.


Waiting, waiting, and trying not to worry, but that doesn’t always work.


Yes, it is at the point where I have to take my own advice and be patient. He’s 18 months old and should have a handful of words under his belt. But he doesn’t. He’s still primarily speaking in gibberish, although he tries to call each member of our home by name (literally, he’s dropping “mama” and calls me “Jejish.” So he may just be a late talker, but he may have an actual language delay).

Continue reading “Watching and Waiting – Delayed Language”

15 Months In and Not a Word Too Soon

mothernbabyFifteen months is an exciting time for parents and their little ones. In our house, we watch as our son has started to understand simple commands: “Can you throw this in the garbage?” “Can you put your toy back in here?” – and still debate over whether he has actually repeated words back to us in each respective language. This month, there’s three languages at play: English, Turkish, and Korean.

While for the past six months, his predominant language heard at home as been Turkish, this has changed for the last three weeks. Normally, he gets English only when I am home in the morning, evening and weekends, while his caretaker speaks only Turkish and his multimedia viewing is also only in Turkish. My mother has stepped in to watch him for one month, and thus, he has been inundated with more English and some sprinkling of Korean. Continue reading “15 Months In and Not a Word Too Soon”

Great Expectations: Setting the Environment for Multilingualism


How old will my son be before he speaks? Will his multilingual upbringing delay his speech production?

These are the worries of a multilingual household.

As my son approaches the 1-year-mark, I am increasingly more aware of the multilingual setting we are providing him at home. Our first child, we watch with bated breath when it seems he’s muttered a word.

Did he say ‘Baba’ (Dad)? Did he say ‘Mama’? Did he just say ‘hi’? Did he just say ‘gel’ (Come)?

No. He did not. Not yet. Continue reading “Great Expectations: Setting the Environment for Multilingualism”