Bilingual Toddler Update at nearly 23 months

Emma's speech seems to have taken a big leap over the past month or so, and with it, obviously, her ability to communicate her ideas and wishes.

Suddenly, noticeably, just after Christmas and New Year, she was saying more new words and repeating words that we said to her.  I don't know if it had anything to do with being surrounded by lots more people during the holidays - we spent a few days with some of my husband's family and my sister and her husband were here for two weeks, so there was a lot more communication going on and more people talking to her, in both English and Spanish - maybe, maybe not.

Bilingual toddler update 23 months

Anyway, it's been so exciting every time she says something new, she just amazes me!  She's now
starting to put two words together in little phrases; the first were "Ees daan" (sleeves down), "Zizan
pee-pee" (Zidan is her grandmother's French poodle.  He pees a lot!), "Mama bi bi bi" (Mummy is big, as opposed to Emma who insists she is "foo" - small), "Chair bi bi bi" (the chair is big), "Papa/Mama/Nena ven" (Ven is come in Spanish).

By the way, I don't have any point of comparison with other toddlers' speech since we don't know any other toddlers Emma's age.  I did read a while back that by their second birthday children should be using a vocabulary of 50+ words and putting two words together.  A month and a half ago, it didn't seem like she would reach this target and I thought her speech was probably taking longer to develop because she was having to deal with two languages at once.  But now, suddenly, she's there!  I'm confident that she's coming along fine at her own pace, with lots of encouragement, but no pressure.

One of the interesting things is how she's managing the two languages.  We know she understands pretty much everything in both languages, but she generally uses one language for each word, and usually opts for whichever is easiest to say!  Logical.  Pan is easier to say than bread, and swing is easier than columpio.  Only Papá/Dada has two names, one English and one Spanish, and also the concept of small - foo (I don't know why small is foo, it just is!) and chi-chi (chiquito).

At the risk of being a bore, I want to make a list of all the things she says now.  Of course, for me this is the most fascinating subject ever and I want to keep this as a record to look back on and remember (because if I don't write it down, I will forget things.)

Mama, Papá/Dada, Nena (her Mexican grandmother).  Nena is also any girl and Emma herself.  Emma says her name "Mma".  Taytee (Emma's auntie Katy), Karl (her uncle), Shishu (her great-aunt Rocío), Kiko and He-ha (Quico and Heather, her great uncle and aunt), Sisi (Ceci, a cousin of my husband's).  Also Zidan, counts as a person, right?  She hasn't managed to say Grandma or Grandad yet, understandably!

Food and drink:
Wawa (is this water or agua, or both?), juice, mi (milk), tea (anything in a mug, I think!), pan (bread in Spanish), cheese, papa (papaya), ba (banana), chi-chi (chicken).

Shoes, boop (boots), ha (hat), seess (sleeves).

Poo-poo, pee-pee, har (hair), han (hands), knee, nu (nose), teess (teeth).

Moon, sun, schar (star), tee (tree), faa (flower), sing (swing), see-ha (see-saw).

Chair, ba (ball), car, papa (paper), haa (heart).

Boo, geen, pip (pink), poopel (purple), yeyo (yellow), bown.  I was so thrilled when she said "poopel" for the first time

Wun, too, tree, fu - not necessarily in that order!  Two and three are her favourites; usually she counts "too...tree...too...tree" then maybe she'll also start inventing numbers, but I can tell she's "counting" from her intonation, going up at the end of each word like she's reciting a list.

Animals/ animal sounds:
Wawa, which is the Spanish baby name for a dog, based on the noise it makes.  Emma does a much more realistic bark, though!  She also makes other animal noises - miaow, meh (a sheep), moo moo, eee eee (mouse), raaa (a lion or tiger), oo oo (monkey), chchch (a bird, I don't know why!), ssssssss (a snake) zzzzzz (a bee, fly or mosquito) and clicks her tongue for a horse.  The other animal name she can say is bear, thanks to her A New House for Mouse book.  I've also started teaching her to sing Baa baa black sheep; she sings "Baa baa sheep"!

Noo noo! (Oh no! So cute...she says this when the bathroom mat gets wrinkled up and she has to straighten it out!), wow! (She totally got that from me!), Bing! (Multi-purpose sound effect!) and bam! (which means a fall and/or a bump).

Other Concepts:
Si (yes in Spanish) and ma (no). Si si si can also mean "I want".
Bi (big) and foo (small) or chi-chi (chiquito)
Teen (clean) and dity (dirty)
U(p) and dan (down)
Yaya (allá = there/over there in Spanish) and chachi (aqui = here in Spanish)
Ma (mas = more in Spanish)
Roun roun roun (round and round)
Ven! (Come in Spanish)

She shakes her head to make a negative, for example, she'll point to a table, say "char" and shake her head to tell me it's not a chair! When I ask her what colour something is and she can't remember how to say that colour, she'll tell me other colours and shake her head!

I think that's everything.  There may be a few I've overlooked, or perhaps some words in Spanish I haven't heard her say, I don't know.  It'll be exciting to see what she says next, at the moment it seems like there's something new everyday.

Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Seychelles Mama


  1. Ive always been amazed at how children learn to speak in more than one language. Very clever!
    Your little girl seems to have a good vocabulary!
    Laura xx

    1. Thanks! Kids have an amazing capacity for learning languages, don't they?

  2. It sounds like she is doing really well. Baby is apparently excelling at French at nursery and caught me by surprise by counting to 10 in French the other day. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

  3. Sounds like she's doing amazingly! We're raising SB bilingually and so far she's picking it up slowly - we found sign language really helped her communication! Great update. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday Xx

  4. I have a friend with bilingual children, and I remember her saying that often bilingual children are "slower" to begin with, but then their language explodes. Your daughter sounds like she is doing great!!

  5. Looks like your little munchkin is doing great! Kids certainly have an amazing capacity for learning languages.


  6. How interesting! They're capacity is amazing, isn't it? Especially when they work out who to speak to in which language on their own (mine's not bilingual, but have seen it in a lot of friends's kids). Pretty cool.

  7. Ahh sounds like she really has had a language explosion bless her!! Love the mix of Spanish and English! I remember writing a similar list when Arthur turned two, I found it amazing to see just how much he could say once I had written it all down! Thanks for sharing with #myexpatfamily