20 January 2013

Gems of toddler bilingualism

Adrian is nearing 2 1/2 and lives in an English, Spanish, and Dutch language environment. Though he doesn't say much in Dutch, he speaks a beautiful mix of Spanish and English.

Before becoming a mama, I definitely imagined the ins and outs of raising a child. But I never pictured speaking to a baby who understands table is also mesa and tafel. A couple years in, I've mastered sticking to my mother tongue while answering bilingual toddler queries. In fact, it's become as natural as dressing him or giving him a bath. Once the Dutch kicks in, we'll be totally incomprehensible to the outside world!

Here are some code switching gems from the past few months, complete with translation (every two-year-old needs that anyway, right?). Mama and Papá are self-explanatory. Nene is what he calls himself.

Mama la agua de Nene está right there en la mesa! (Mama, Nene's water is right there on the table!)

Aquí hay some people. (Here there are some people.)

Bye, Mama. Nene leaving to Nueva York. See you the next day. (Bye, Mama. Nene is going to New York. See you the next day.)

Papá, me voy un poco de agua. Ahora come back. (Papá, I'm going to get a little water. Now I'm coming back.)

This is para to eat? (This is to eat?)

And my personal favorite, when pointing at a London double decker bus:

Hay people abajo y up!  (There are people below and up!)

I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. Below is a video of him describing his experience at the New Year's drink with the neighbors (the subject of my last post).


  1. That is so wonderful! I hope he doesn't lose that bi/tri-lingualism when he starts school! Hope you are all doing well, & it's good to see you posting again... something I need to do as well! Saludos!

  2. Nice to hear from you too, Robert! He won't lose it, we'll make sure. :) Hope all is well with you!