Saturday, 25 August 2012

First trip to the UK/ Bilingual Babies: 14-15 months

There were a number of reasons I wanted to go to the UK this year, some of them being to see friends and family, to escape the heat of Spain, because I haven´t been for about two years but one of the main reasons being for the sake of Chloe´s English. However, in hindsight with only being 14 months old, maybe this year the trip wasn´t so worthwhile as maybe she´s still a tad too young to have got the most out of it,particularly as she isn´t even speaking much yet.
    One of the things I have also realised after our trip to the UK is that bringing up a child bilingually is not cheap and this concludes with the following articles from Multilingual Living and Hiragana Mama but in my opinion it is definitely worth it or will be worth it in the long run!First of all,my husband could only take his holidays in August which automatically makes it more expensive, then despite the area where I´m from not being very touristy, all the holiday houses were extortionate...we managed to find one slightly less extortionate for the two weeks. I thought that the Olympics wouldn´t affect the prices of flights, houses etc as  we were based in the North but little did I know that some of the football matches were held in Manchester,which might also have affected prices.We also hired a car for the duration of our stay, luckily we upgraded the car to a bigger one as the five of us plus all the suitcases and the buggy would´ve been a bit of a squash! We ended up taking our car seat with us otherwise to hire a carseat for Chloe for two weeks would´ve cost a further 100 pounds!!!

  Anyway, after researching the travel tips on Babycentre and German In the Afternoon, which were very useful and helpful, our flight (Chloe´s first time on a plane!) went smoothly...we read a couple of books and did some nursery rhymes and finger plays.
 We stayed in a comfortable and clean bungalow in Haslingden, which had great views from the living room window.My parents joined us for the first week of our holidays, which meant that Chloe had almost total immersion in the minority language!! Unfortunately, the weather was typically British in that it rained almost every day but we were pretty lucky as it always seemed to rain when we were in the car, having lunch or visiting something indoors!!

  We visited Chester Zoo,which was a great day out, visited the Lake District and discovered some British culture at Beatrix Potter World...(Chloe loved all the fake animals straight out of Beatrix Potter´s books!). I also met up with one of my friends,her husband and their baby, who´s about a month younger than Chloe, in Blackpool and went to the Sea Life Centre. We also met up with the majority of my family for Sunday lunch and Chloe had a great time playing with my cousin´s children and then met up with my stepdad´s family too and their little girl, who´s  about two weeks younger than Chloe. They seemed to get on very well! So she´s had plenty of interaction with other children and adults all of which are monolingual.

 The second week my husband´s parents came,which unfortunately meant that Chloe was once again almost totally surrounded by Spanish.We visited Chester, the Lake District (this time we did a lake cruise!),
Chipping,Clitheroe and Downham and York. Chloe enjoyed walking around the York Castle Museum, which gives a great insight into British history, particularly the Victorian street,which takes you back to England in Victorian times,and she also liked Jorvik Viking Centre,which tells you about York after the Vikings invaded. The trouble is I guess we´ll have to revisit them when she´s older as she won´t remember it now or learn as much from it at this age! I also showed my in-laws where I´m from and the houses I have lived in and we visited Hoghton Tower.We also visited my aunt and saw my cousin,his wife and their children and had an English tea,with tea,sandwiches including egg and salmon, various English cheeses, Pimms and cakes.While we were in the UK we ate a lot of typical British food, such as crumpets,English muffins, teacake, roast pork with all the trimmings, sticky toffee pudding....even an English breakfast in the airport on the return journey to Spain...Chloe too! She enjoyed her first taste of baked beans too!

On to the language part,I had hoped this trip would stimulate Chloe´s speaking especially in English and I think it did but not to the level I had hoped for....I guess this language acquisition takes time particularly if you have to acquire two languages at the same time! As I mentioned in my last post, Chloe has been saying mas or ma´ for more or if she wanted something but after the first week with my parents,it started to sound more like "more". Then my inlaws came and it went back to "ma" but she would often say both words so it would go "Ma..more". I don´t know if she´s starting to distinguish the two languages and realise that she has to speak in different languages with different people...probably not.She´s just probably repeating both words but it seemed like she directed the "more"at me. Her animal noises are improving and she is trying to repeat them....every time she sees a dog,she says wow,wow.In fact, I think that´s her name for the dog!!She´s also trying to repeat words or noises that we say or she hears. She now says Uh-oh if we say it when she drops something etc and the other day she was playing with her Chicco mobile phone and pressing the numbers and she repeated "four" after pressing the number four button and it sounded very clearly like four....the thing is she probably won´t say it again now at least for some time anyway!


  1. I love this time when children are saying their first words! It's great that there's some English coming out as well as the Spanish. We used baby signs at this stage too, which was helpful, because whichever language they decided to use, I had the clue of the sign, which never changed (ie 'more' was tapping their fist with their hand, whether they tried to say it in English or French).

  2. I know´s so exciting! Baby sign sounds great! I´ve heard of it but I don´t think it´s very popular in Spain and I didn´t really want to invest in cd´s or dvd´s about it!

  3. If it´s useful as a reference, my baby´s first bilingual pair of words was apple/manzana, and it occurred when he was about 15-16 months old. He loved playing with fruits, I guess because of the different colours and textures. One day he started saying “anana” for “manzana” and he´d turned to me and say “apple”. We thought it was a just random thing, so we tried asking him: Papi: “what´s this?”- “Apple”. Mami : “¿Qué es esto?” – “anana”. Then I couldn´t stop smiling for several days in a row, and from then on these sets of paired words became much more frequent. I´m sure your princess will start soon speaking both languages almost in parallel. If you think about it you have a great set of ingredients: Native speaker, you are the mum (that makes one big x2 like in Scrabble), native family to visit and some support in school. I´m sure you´ll bake a fantastic bilingual cake!

  4. Thanks for your comment,dANI! Love the story about your baby´s first words and hence the title of your blog!!I´m sure you´re right and also love your metaphor/comparison to baking!!

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  6. What an amazing trip! You really packed in a lot. And you never know what it sinking in to Chloe's eager little mind :)
    It really is an exciting time as they start to talk! Just know - before you know it, you won't even be able to remember a time when Chloe wasn't speaking! So enjoy this time :) Are you keeping track of the words she's using? Aleksander waited until he was 2 years and 2 weeks old to start talking, and then it was like an explosion. So after a month, I just couldn't keep up with all his new words. Just goes to show, they all do these things in their own time and at their own pace! I, too, used sign language. It didn't take much. My mom had bought us a set of flashcards with basic signs, and that was enough. Otherwise, I'd look up a word online or even make it up sometimes! (The sign for bunny is really hard for a child, so we used the letter "B" and made it "hop"!)
    Hope you're having fun with all this!