Apples and Bananas

I teach 18-month-olds English.

Yes, you read that correctly, 18-months.

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking, “How on Earth do you do that?”

Well, it’s really more of an organized playgroup, just in English. Six students max and each are accompanied by a parent or grandparent. And it’s one of my favorite classes. Here’s why:

Let me introduce you to John (not his real name for obvious purposes). He is growing up already in a bilingual household, and is a-freaking-dorable. He doesn’t speak much of any language, but it’s quite clear on his face that he understands pretty much everything I say to him.

Side note – babies are super smart.

But what is particularly sweet is how he associates what he sees, how he connects-the-dots through the languages. Whatever he sees that is red, it’s “apple”. He points excitedly to the object and exclaims, “APPLE!” Doesn’t matter what the object is, trousers, an actual apple, a ball – it’s “apple”. Something similar happens when the object is yellow. This is called a “mani”. Not quite sure where that particular bunch of syllables came from, but it refers to a banana. So if the object is yellow, again if it’s a sun, a shirt, a marker, doesn’t matter – it’s a “mani”.

What’s really neat though is if you put a bunch of yellow and red objects in front of him and ask for something in particular, such as, “Please give me the ball,” then he will hand you the ball, and so on and so forth. He understands that the objects all have different names and have different functions, but he connects the dots in his cute little brain via color and labels it as such.

He also makes sure his mother is always paying attention by turning around and hollering at her, “MA! MA!!” With every action or new word, John cries out to her to make sure she has also made whatever new discovery with him. Or is dancing with him. Or singing. Or whatever. Just so long as she is following along in class. Priceless. 😉

 

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One response to “Apples and Bananas

  1. My children were bilingual because both parents spoke different languages to them from birth. The manipulative instinct would show up when being disciplined they would switch languages knowing full well which parent didn’t speak which language.

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