Monday, August 9, 2010

Progress at 18.5 months

I was told recently in one of the comments posted that I'd soon feel the effects of all my efforts, that Kaya's speaking would continue to motivate me each day to continue in this endeavor and improve my German as much as possible. I have been telling myself this, as well, expecting that these benefits would show up around the time she starts putting two words together, or at least has a larger vocabulary of single words that she uses regularly. However, despite the fact that her vocabulary is still very small, I am beginning to feel that motivation as she says more and more German words with every passing week!

I've been working on a list of the words that she says regularly--I'd love to have a complete list of all the words she says, but at this stage, she repeats a lot of words or word sounds, often never repeating those words again for months. Like "strawberry" for example...I didn't hear her say this, but my cousins and my sister heard her and it was clear what she was saying. Granted, the consonants were surely vague, and some of the vowels were missing...that's her pattern these days. But she gets enough of the consonants and vowels in there to make many words clear...yesterday, for example, we swear she was trying to say "lila Blume" (purple flower) as she was pointing at the flowers outside of the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp. It was mumbled, but it was clear enough for us to raise our eyebrows and smile, excited at the fact that she's getting to that point of using two words at a time!

At this point, here's the words that can say clearly and uses on a relatively regular basis:

German: In order of common usage
1. Mama
2. mehr (more)
3. Ja (yes)
4. Hallo (hello)
5. danke (thank you) (soft K, smooth sound overall)
6. Auge (eye)
7. siehst du? (do you see?) (was "deedoo" morphed into "zeedoo" after a month or so)
8. Blume (flower)
9. Kuk-kuk (peek a boo)
10. bitte (please, you're welcome)
11. lecker (said perfectly in context on her own, with no prompting last week!)
12. Auto
13. Affe (very soft, smooth F, almost non-existent--this word is new, just learned to say over the past few days. Very exciting word around here because monkey has become the favorite collectible animal--it's the snuggly that she sleeps with it at night. So, she's been hearing this word for a very long time, and it was the first word that she demonstrated a recognition of when she was 5 months or so (I'll have to check that)...she'll have lots of opportunities to perfect this word over time.)
14. Tante ("ta-ta", meaning Aunt--she doesn't say this that often, but has been saying it for at least a few months, and uses it in context with her Tante Jules)

English: Also in order of usage
1. Dada
2. Bye/Bye-bye
3. uh-oh (has been saying this one for about two months...whenever she drops anything, passes gas, and sometimes when she messes her diaper)
4. Door (muffled almost non-existent R)--perhaps her FAVORITE word and concept these days
5. Dog ball ("doaoh-baaaohh")
6. purple ("puhrpah")
diaper ("dihpa")
7. No ("noooooooooh"--I've only heard her use this twice so far, only when she seems sad or disappointed in something, when things aren't going quite right. Has yet to use it in defiance.)

Same in both languages
1. Hi
2. Yeah/ja
3. Ball (sounds like "Baaoh")
4. Cracker (sounds like "creckah")
5. ok (using more often in context these days, though not regularly yet--last week, I asked her to show me the turtle in the bathtub (in German of course) and she quickly responded with "ok" before she did it.
6. Elmo (this is a new word as of this week...Tante Jules heard her say it twice, very clearly in the bathtub on Sunday night!)

Common Sounds she's been making over the past few weeks/months:
uh! (meaning up, down, open or help)
ah! (similar to above)
da doo
a-e-i-o-u (German vowel sounds. We say these a lot to her, using them now to count down to various actions, like sliding down the slide...she can say them by herself in the right order some of the time, though she often mixes up a sound or two.)
Ga goo
Kuku (the name she uses to refer to Kahlua, our dog)
"khah!" meaning, kalt (cold)

Additional language points:
-lots and lots of "kaya" language, where she is babbling with all sorts of different consonant and vowel sounds
Here's a sound clip (so if you see nothing, that's normal) that I captured last night at bedtime as she was in her bed. Geoff started saying "Night-night" to her, so I think that's what she's saying in part of it, though it sounds very similar to Nana at times...

-In the morning, she'll call out the name of the person she expects to come get her (generally the person who's been getting her a lot recently)
-She can recognize and point out most of the common body parts in both languages at this point: head, arms, elbows, legs, feet, hands, nose, mouth, toes, fingers. She still gets confused about her possessive pronouns at times, meaning that she'll often point to our nose when we ask her to point to her own.
-Seems to know many of her colors, more in English than in German (Dada works on these with her a LOT)

We recently got a new bathmat for Kaya that has Elmo all over it. She has had little exposure to Elmo in the past, so he and his name were new to her. When she saw the bathmat, she grew very excited at it, quickly noticing and announcing the "ball" that she saw on it. When we told her that it was Elmo with the ball, she immediately pointed to her elbow. Apparently, she's more well-versed in her body part recognition than she is in her Sesame Street characters. Nothing like the lack of TV and an aversion to hard-core marketed characters to help make that a reality.

And one other story I just have to share here because it's too cute to avoid. Not exactly language-related, but it can contribute to the overall picture of what she's doing to go along with all this other language progress. Geoff was in the bathroom with her, getting ready for work at the sink. He heard her giggling, and looked down at his feet to see her brushing the head of the rubber ducky with a toothbrush. Smiling as well, he asked her what she was doing, when he suddenly noticed her bathtub book (in the bathtub) with a picture of a mouse brushing a duck with its toothbrush!

And, alongside her language development, are the following observations we've made about who Kaya is now!:
-walking everywhere (since July 11), falling a lot without stressing about it
-plays by herself for long periods of time--up to an hour sometimes
-can eat with a spoon/fork, always with her right hand, but prefers to use her left hand to shovel the food in
-adapts well and quickly to strangers--cries for about 1-3 minutes right after I leave, but is then quickly distractible to other activities/things
-will smile on command (or just with a camera pointed in her face) for a camera
-loves to sit on the couch or chair and pile clothing/blankets on top of herself. Will do this activity for up to 45 minutes sometimes.
-Continues to point to what she wants.
-loves to climb (usually climbs up into her Stokke chair alone)
-enjoys throwing balls, bringing me clothes or things she thinks are mine and I might want
-seems to prefer "order"--puts all her crayons, for example, back in the cup they came out of after she's done using them without us asking her to do that
hands us her plate when she's done eating
-goes down the stairs backwards on her own
-LOVES opening and shutting doors
-LOVES the water, bath and pool...goes under the water with no fuss and enjoys sliding down the tube slide into the pool where we catch her
-requests her toothbrush (by pointing at the medicine cabinet) about twice a day, morning and night. She "brushes" her teeth by moving the brush around in her mouth and chewing on it. Gets so excited when she asks for her toothbrush!
-sits on her potty on her own, often when we are sitting on 'ours'; the other day, she motioned for me to go into the bathroom with her and sit down on the toilet after she sat down on hers. She had a diaper on, so I'm not sure if she went after sitting down, but she's certainly close to being ready to potty train. She lets us know a lot of the time when her diaper is full, either by pulling at her diaper or answering our question with a "Ja" if she needs a new one. Sometimes she'll bring us a cover for her diaper.

As always, thanks for joining in for a peek at the ride!


  1. This progress report is great! It's epecially helpful to have the list of German words. She's also said "Tante" (which sounds like "ta-ta") a few times.

    On Sunday, when I was giving her a bath, she pointed at her Elmo bath mat and said "Elmo" quite clearly.

    I get so much joy from watching Kaya discover the world around her.

    Tante (Aunt) Jules

  2. Julie,
    Thank you SO much for your comments here, especially the details you are adding for the "record". We are all in this together, since I'm obviously not the only one with her all the time (and my memory seems stuck on pregnancy-mode since I had her!).
    SO very glad she has such dedicated aunties, esp. at least one of them who is so local!


I LOVE reading your comments, they make such a difference! Thanks for sharing!