A Bright Future in Translation

When my son went to preschool, he provided me with an on the spot translation of the apple song he learned in Kindergarten. It originally went

I am apple I am apple
On a tree, on a tree
You come and eat me
You come and eat me
I taste good. I taste good.

He sang this once and I complemented him on it and then he kept singing it, only each time he sang it more and more of the song was in German until he reached the final version:

Ich bin Apfel, ich bin Apfel
Auf dem Baum, auf dem Baum
Du kommst mich essen
Du kommst mich essenIch smeck’ gut, ich schmeck’ gut

He was torn between ‘gut’ and ‘lecker’ on the last line (and apparently it should be ‘an dem Baum’ but whatever) and kept changing it, but I was very impressed.

Since then, his translation skills have continued to developed.

When we were in Kansas visiting my family, my brother-in-law took Alpha and my niece out some where. My niece spent the drive asking him how you say various things in German and he would tell her. Not speaking German, my brother-in-law had no idea if he was giving her the correct answers or not. Finally, my niece asked him, “What do you say in German when you’re really, really scared?” Alpha thought for a moment and opened his mouth and screamed, “AAAAAAAGH!”

* * *

We’re currently remodeling our bathrooms. I don’t know if this project is current; we’ve been doing it for the past 5 months, but since we’re still doing it, I guess it is. At any rate, we let the kids do a sample tile mosaic so we could get an idea how the grout color would tie everything together.
Beforehand, my husband explained to the kids in Finnish that the white glue they would be using was like liquid concrete and was toxic, so they should be very careful not to eat any or mess with it.

Alpha listened to this, then turned to Beta and repeated what DH had just said to them, only in English.
My husband was astounded. “I didn’t even know he knew the word ‘toxic’ in English.”

I get the feeling we consistently underestimate our children’s language abilities, particularly Alpha’s because he’s had so many problems with his speech. He’s also more reticent than Beta when it comes to speaking. Beta is a little chatterbox and talks to everyone. We go to the gym and when I drop them off at the daycare, she immediately starts chatting away to the lady there about her outfit, or a toy she brought or whatever. I talk to my host family via skype and she happily starts telling them whatever she can think of.

Alpha will talk to people now on the phone, but he’s still very quiet about doing so. His speech therapist has mentioned that she has a very hard time getting him to speak spontaneously. If she asks him what he wants to play with, most of the time he doesn’t answer until she offers him a choice and then he just says yes. She worried about his vocabulary, commenting how she showed him a nature scene and asked him to point at the leopards and he pointed at some birds flying. I told her that was strange because ‘leopard’ is actually the same in all three languages (Leopard in German and leopaardi in Finnish). She wondered earlier if he was just self-conscious but then answered her own question by stating that he was too young to be self-conscious. Then I told her the story of the first time we went to get his speech evaluated and he told me that he couldn’t do it because he couldn’t speak English. This seemed to change her opinion a bit.

Alpha is still quite sensitive about his speech abilities. Once when he was sitting at the table doing his work, he commented in English that he had to do speech practice because “I am not very good at speaking.” And it really stung me to hear him say that. I quickly told him that it wasn’t a big deal, lots of people have to practice their speech and told him that his father had to go to speech therapy when he was Alpha’s age and now he speaks just fine. I think this reassured him; he hasn’t mentioned being bad at speaking much again. At any rate, his speech has improved remarkably and ask long as he speaks up when he’s around people, he is very intelligible.

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How is the speech therapy going?

In short, it’s not. Two weeks before we were scheduled to leave and visit family, our speech therapist informed us that she was leaving for a new position and would only be there for two more weeks.

Remember back when we were about to start speech therapist and the old speech therapist advised us to wait a month so that Alpha could start with the new speech therapist and not have to switch therapists after only a month? Yeah, so do I. Yet here are. Switching speech therapists after only a month.

Until we find a new speech therapist, I’ve been continuing with daily 15 minute practices at home and I believe we have made some practice. His n’s and t’s have improved to such a degree that we’ve progressed all the way through reading the stories and dropped practicing these sounds all together. Currently we’re working on L’s and D’s. His main problem with these sounds is pronouncing them properly at the end of the word. However, according to the sound development chart, final l’s are generally only pronounced properly when a child is 5 years old. Since Alpha is just now 5, he’s only slightly behind with that. I think his final d’s are suffering from German bleed because he always pronounces them as t’s, which is something Germans generally do. Making this problem even worse is the fact that many English words are the same as the German one and merely replace the final t with a d. So when Alpha says “bed” it comes out “Bett,” which is correct in German, but wrong in English. As a result, we read through the final-d work sheet going “Breaduh”, “beduh”, “colduh” in order to emphasize the softer d sound.

The only problem with my practices is that I may not be as picky as an actual trained speech pathologist who can really see if he is putting his tongue in exactly the right spot. I basically decide he’s making a sound that is ‘close enough’ to where it should be. Without a trained professional to aide us, this is going to have to be good enough.

I had a clever brainstorm and decided to combine speech practice with learning our letters. When we learn to make a sound, we form the letter that makes that sound out of clay and I ask him what sound that letter makes and he tells me. As a result, I’ve decided to just start going through the entire articulation development chart, starting at the beginning, in order to practice all the letters/sounds, even if he can already make the sound. Hopefully this will also help him develop phonological awareness.

One thing I can’t wait to start working with him on are his blends. I tried googling ways to teach kids how to make blends and just got a bunch of stuff on how to teach them how to read blends. Annoying. At any rate, we can’t start blends until he pronounces each individual letter properly. Then we do the whole sesame street thing and push the two letters together, faster and faster until they’re ‘blended.’ This is what they say to do to teach it reading it, so I’m hoping teaching kids to pronounce blends works the same way.

 

Why I No Longer Worry about Language Balance

Beta is spouting more and more English lately, thanks to Dora. She wanders around the house saying, “Hi! I’m Dora. Do you I like stickers? Good! I like stickers, too!” and regularly calls me ‘mommy,’ except for when she is really distressed, in which case I’m still äiti. I’ve actually started wondering if I should stop letting her watch Dora, since it’s having such an influence on her language and is skewing things so much toward it. Since English is our community language, it has a clear advantage as far as usefulness is concerned. DH and I have to artificially inflate the importance of Finnish and German so that they keep speaking it to us and that English creep doesn’t eventually win out.

Then I realized that cutting out Dora would be entirely pointless. With Alpha, I probably would have cut it out. But in the intervening time, I think I’ve come to accept that there is absolutely no way we can effectively control the language balance in our lives. We can influence it in some ways, but completely control it? No.

Here’s why:

1) English will win–no matter where you live. It’s a major global language. No matter where you’re growing up, you will need to know English. Even North Korea teaches it. My kids are obviously going to figure that out eventually. If English is one of your bilingual languages, eventually it will pull out ahead. That’s just the way things are.

2) Kids develop their own preferences for languages. Right now, Alpha prefers German because he has the highest likelihood of being understood when he speaks it. Beta moves between all of them fairly easily at the moment, but I’m betting that will change as she gets older. Many older multilingual kids refuse to speak their second language unless they have to.

3) Bilingual children have periods where they refuse to speak a language. My husband grew up speaking Swedish as his mother tongue and Finnish as his father and community tongue. In spite of the fact he and his siblings went to a Swedish speaking school, they still figured out Finnish was the important language to speak and stopped speaking Swedish to their mother and told her they didn’t want to speak it anymore. So she stopped speaking Swedish to them. DH really regrets doing this now and insists he will always speak to his kids in Finnish no matter what they say. But this seems to be a normal story for bilingual children. It’s a normal phase of growing up.

4) Multilingualism is a start, not an end. Humans’ ability to retain languages is dependent on their ability to continue using it. No matter how much effort you put into their multilingualism at a young age, it’s the rest of their lives that will determine if they maintain it. Again, my husband’s Swedish is a perfect example of this. Since moving to the US, he has almost completely stopped speaking Swedish. He still reads it quite a bit and speaks the weird Swedish-Finnish combination used by his family, but practically no pure Swedish. When we went to Stockholm in December, his Swedish was so rusty, it was quicker for me to figure out what they were saying to him in Swedish and and answer in English than for him to answer in Swedish. In the end, both he and the Swedes just ended up speaking English because it was faster. He’s still trilingual, but he needs some WD-40 to get out the squeaks. My kids may be trilingual now, but whether or not they can still speak their languages well at 30 is firmly out of my control.

So I’ve given up worrying about keeping all of the languages in balance. They more or less are. We read an English book and a German book before naptime and DH reads a Finnish book before bed. We usually watch an English show (Dora) after naptime, then Sandmännchen (German) and Palomies Sami (Finnish, Fireman Sam) before bedtime. There is a sort of balance and it seems to be working. Tweaking it at the moment probably wouldn’t bring much improvement.

Speech Therapy Begins

Alpha has had two speech therapy sessions so far and I have no idea how it is going. I don’t go into the sessions; he goes by himself. They spent one session practicing ‘t’ and ‘d’ sounds. Then the second he practiced ‘n.’ After the second I thought to ask the therapist if I ought to practice with him at home and she said that would be good. In some ways, I preferred the previous therapist who did Alpha’s evaluation. She was a little bit more communicative than this second one. At any rate, the second speech therapist said she would give me some print outs at our next appointment detailing what I could do at home.

I decided not to wait and did some googling and came up with some good websites detailing how parents can  help their child’s speech therapy. The most useful I’ve found so far is Mommy Speech Therapy. It not only explains various different speech problems, but also explains how you can show your child how to make the various sounds. So I referenced the ‘t’ and ‘d’ page for our practice yesterday and today. My main problem is I tend to advance too quickly. I need to go much slower and make sure that he can make the sounds perfectly before progressing, according to the pages. Then move onto syllables and, provided he still makes the sounds correctly, words and finally sentences.

We’re aiming for 10-15 minutes daily, but that is a hard goal to reach. Alpha is generally reluctant to practice. The first time I suggested it, he insisted that he didn’t have to do that here; he only does that with the speech therapist. I have to insist that he practices with me and until he gets accustomed to the idea of it, I will have to be very persuasive. Yesterday I told him he had to practice before having a show. Today I added a piece of candy to sweeten the deal. Still, going the entire 10 minutes is difficult. “I already did that,” he informs me repeatedly. The problem is getting him to understand that in order for him to have already done it, he needs to make the sounds properly and always place his tongue in the correct place. Easier said than done. Mommy Speech therapy suggests putting a bit of peanut butter or marshmallow fluff on the aveolar palate so he can lick it off and feel more compelled to put his tongue there. We have nutella, so I will try that tomorrow and see if it helps. If tongue strength seems to be a problem, she suggests having him hold a cheerio between the palate and his tongue for 10 seconds. I haven’t seen any evidence that there is tongue weekness, but I’ll keep it in mind. At this time, it appears to be more habit. He can put his tongue in the right place, but is not used to always putting in there. So practice. And more practice.

It will definitely take a while to see definite progress, but the fact that we’ve begun is very encouraging and I hope that in a few months, we will see some definite progress.

Beta Update

I don’t talk about Beta much on my blog, maybe because she’s still so young and has yet to develop any interesting problems like Alpha has, but since I’m not actually keeping a baby book, I figure I should put forth some sort of effort to record what she’s up to.

She talks. A lot.

I think it must be because she’s a girl, but sometimes I feel like she is never quiet. A few nights ago, she woke up when I got home around 9pm and was awake until past 11, talking. I recorded some of it. She sang songs, she talked to me, she talked to her stuffed broccoli. “No, broccoli, go home broccoli. Broccoli, come here. Go home, broccoli.”

She has recently become really into Dora. I’m beginning to think this is a mistake because her English is exploding and she seems to prefer using it to other things. She has a long list of Dora-specific English vocabulary she now uses all the time and has started calling me ‘mommy.’

“Mommy, say backpack! Say BACKPACK!”

“You’re too late!”

“We did it!”

She’s also started referring to her ‘squeaky,’ but she can’t say that work right so it always takes me a long time to figure out what she’s talking about. Since she’s pretending, it doesn’t make things easier.

Both she and Alpha are terrified of Swiper. As soon as he hears the Swiper rattle, Alpha runs out of the room. If he’s there when Swiper triumphantly swipes something, he screams. But today I gave him a Swiper sticker and he was thrilled. He started running around, throwing stuff in the other direction and then saying, “Ha ha ha! You’re too late! You’ll never find it now!”

Then Beta caught on and started doing the same thing.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should get some Dora shows in German or something.

The interesting thing about Dora is that one of its “educational purposes” is to expose kids to Spanish. But so far, I haven’t noticed my kids picking up one lick of Spanish. Alpha might repeat some of the words, but he doesn’t seem to be using them in everyday life. This is because until age 3, kids only learn language from a physically present adult. They don’t learn from TV shows. So while Beta appears to be learning English from the show, the reality is she’s mostly picking up vocabulary or it’s reinforcing English she has already heard from real life. She is also convinced that the map’s name is I’mthemap.

Other than that, she is very cuddly and has started kissing me on the cheek at bedtime and saying, “Gute Nacht, Äiti! Schlaf schön!” (good night, mom! Sleep well!”), which is what I tell her.

I discussed the possibility of Alpha being dyslexic with my host mom on the phone last weekend and she predictably asked, “But it isn’t due to the many languages is it?” I assured her it wasn’t. “Well, it doesn’t seem like Beta is the same way, does it? She seems different.” And in a lot of ways she does. She mispronounces things (she currently says “kee-ka-poo” instead of peek-a-boo) but I understand so much more of what she says than I understood from Alpha when he was the same age. It really makes me wonder how much of what he said I missed out on and makes me feel quite sad.

As it is, Alpha and Beta are good interpreters for each other. If one says something I don’t understand, the other will usually let us know what s/he means. Beta has quickly grasped that Alpha is more capable than she is as well. If no parent is available to help her, she will turn to him and say, “Alpha, hilfe!” or her current favorite, “Help you!”

She loves babies. Whenever we go out, she yells loudly, “Äiti! EIN BABY!” whenever she sees one, even if said Baby is about the same age as her. I’ve asked her if she is a baby and she says no. I ask her what she is and she says “Beta.” It would definitely seem that girls are different than boys.

Is My Son Dyslexic?

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Alpha, writing his name

I’m beginning to suspect that Alpha may be dyslexic.

Since my husband is dyslexic, we’ve always been aware of the possibility of having children with dyslexia since it is genetic, but I’ve been wondering more and more since Alpha’s last parent teacher conference in April, when his teacher advised we get him evaluated for weak fine motor skills. The evaluator told us that he was behind, but not so severely that he needed therapy at this point and that the fine motor skills necessary for handwriting don’t develop until 6 or 7, anyway, so not to worry. These tend to develop in boys later than girls as a general rule. His teacher also showed me some of his handwriting books that he’s done, which in all honesty I don’t take too seriously and find it rather amusing they’re dedicating so much time teaching 4 year-olds to write when that is more of an elementary school thing. She showed me some pages, where he did pretty well, and other pages where the writing was very sloppy.

Then she brought out the binomial cube.  “This is is one of the harder works we have in the classroom. We have some Kindergarteners who can’t do it, but Alpha can do it perfectly, everytime.” She explained how they use cube. The teacher takes the cube, which has different colored sizes and dismantles it. She points to each similarly colored side to show the student that the similarly colored sides go together. Then the student is supposed to rebuild the cube. This is the sort of activity that would be easy for someone who can easily rotate objects around in their head would excel in. Rotating images in one’s head is a special talent dyslexics have.

A few other things gave me pause, as well. I’ve been going over the alphabet with Alpha since he was about 2. He knows some letters, but he seems to know them inconsistently. Sometimes he knows them, sometimes he tells me, “I can’t.” (He says this in English, with an English accent, which is hilarious). Other times, he tells me they’re different letters. He’s told me that E is M (which if you turn E on its side, isn’t unreasonable), that N is Z (again, if you turn it on its side, yes it is).

His speech problems, as it turns out are also a sign of dyslexia as dyslexics tend to have problems with blends and differentiating between sounds in the language.

I’ve also noticed he doesn’t understand rhymes. We have a German book called, “Wir Entdecken die Buchstaben” (We discover the letters) and one of the pages has activities involving rhyming. You have to find the words that rhyme together. So it will have have Topf, Zopf, Kopf mixed in with Haus and Maus. You have to know that Topf, Zopf, and Kopf rhyme and so do Haus and Maus but Topf and Haus do not. He doesn’t get it. I explained to him that these are words that have the same sound at the end. tOPF, zOPF, kOPF, but he doesn’t get it. How do you explain rhyming? Don’t people just GET rhyming? My husband told me he didn’t understand how rhyming worked until he finally figured it out when he was 16. His lack of understanding contributed to his long-standing hatred of poetry. We did another worksheet from a German book that involved drawing lines to connect rhyming objects. On the top row were:

MAUS   KNOPF    TISCH   HASE

On the bottom row were:

TOPF   NASE   HAUS  FISCH

Now, if even without knowing German, can you figure out which of those words would rhyme? He pointed to each object and said what they were and then I pointed to mouse. “What rhymes with mouse?” I asked him. “Ummmmmmm….” he looked at the paper and then pointed at nose. “Nope,” I said. He tried again, each time looking at me to see if it was the right answer. He did get ‘Hase’ and ‘Nase’ right, mainly because by the time he got to the rabbit, nose was the only thing on the bottom row that hadn’t been crossed off.

He also mixes up he/she/it a lot when he speaks. I thought this was my fault because I make a lot of gender mistakes in German, but my husband does this all the time, too. He will often tell me things like “My sister got his apartment today.”or “His husband….” He tried blaming this on Finnish, which does not differentiate between he and she, but I pointed out that he learned Swedish at the same time and Swedish does, so that doesn’t explain why he does it all the time in English. Apparently dyslexics do that a lot, too.

Here is a full list of dyslexic symptoms Alpha presents that we’ve noticed so far:

  • Difficulty pronouncing words
  • Difficulty with before/after, left/right, and so on (he often tells me in German, “Ich gehe auf die Küche” (I’m going on the Kitchen) when he means “Ich gehe in die Küche”)
  • Difficulty learning the alphabet, nursery rhymes or songs
  • Difficulty with word retrieval or naming problems (we notice this when DH reads to him at night and asks him what things are in Finnish, which he knows, but he just can’t find the word  and during the speech evaluations and vocabulary tests he did. There were many words, like finger, I knew he knew but he couldn’t find them during the evaluation)
  • Difficulty identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting syllables in words (phonological awareness)
  • Difficulty hearing and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • Difficulty in learning the sounds of letters (phonics)–he tells me ah-ah-Musik. What? There’s no a in that word!
  • Difficulty in remembering names and shapes of letters (he’s still very young for this, but he spent all last year in Kindergarten working on writing his name and hasn’t come as far as many of his classmates)
  • Inconsistent schoolwork
  • Relatives may have similar problems
  • Poor or slow handwriting (not too applicable for him since he’s so young, but again, compared to other kids in his preschool, his handwriting is very bad)
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Difficulty remembering the kinesthetic movements to form letters correctly
  • Difficulty coordinating facial muscles to produce sounds
  • Overwhelmed by too much input

These are only the ones from the list that are relevant now, to a preschooler. My husband and I have discussed this a lot in the last few days and I’m reading a few books on dyslexia, including the one that helped my husband stop feeling like he was an idiot all the time (The Gift of Dyslexia), in order to learn more about it.

Once he starts his speech therapy in August, I will discuss our suspicions with his speech therapist and see what she thinks and then find out where we go to have The Full Battery of Tests done.

In the meantime, we’re changing the way we educate him. We’re not going to be sending him back to preschool in the fall (I still need to call his school and de-enroll him). This is for numerous reasons. First off, he needs to spend a lot of time working on strengthening his fine motor skills and apparently MORE writing practice is not the way to go about this. Instead, we will be doing zero writing whatsoever and concentrating on cutting activities, pinching activities, playing with playdo and coloring with crayons. These build the motor skills necessary to write without frustrating him. Secondly, I don’t want him to start thinking that reading and writing are things that other people can do but he can’t because he’s too stupid, which is a feeling my husband basically internalized from being in school. Finally, no preschool will free up more of our time and funds for intensive speech therapy, which will probably be more helpful for his speech at this point than preschool.

I’m working on putting together a Kindergarten homeschooling plan. Although I’m not required to officially do any schooling as a homeschooler until a child turns 6 where I live, I figure a year of getting into the habit of doing it without any pressure will be good for me.

We’re starting off with doing basic phonics, which will be easier once he can pronounce more letters accurately. But since we’ll be starting with A and working our way through the vowels, we have plenty of time for his speech therapy to take effect before we get to the consonant sounds. We’ll spend as much time as necessary with each letter as it takes for him to be able to automatically say what letter it is and what sound it makes in German, English and Finnish. We will also be doing more hands-on letter making activities. I will hopefully come up with more ideas as I continue to read and learn about it.

I know some of you are probably wondering if we should really continue with the other languages? Aren’t dyslexics supposed to be really bad at learning foreign languages? They are. My husband has always stated that he is really bad at languages and he speaks English, Finnish, and Swedish fluently with good working knowledge of German, Norwegian and Danish. Also, it’s important to note the difference between foreign languages and languages you’re born speaking. Since Alpha has had English, German and Finnish in his life since he was born, none of these languages are foreign to him, they’re all native languages. In some ways, this might help him if he is dyslexic because while English has one of the most opaque orthographies in the world (which means it’s very difficult for dyslexics to learn to read and write English), Finnish is one of the most transparent while German falls somewhere in between. Multilingualism also helps strengthen executive control, something dyslexics may have trouble with, and the ability to zero in on important details.

However, I am concerned that the fact he is trilingual will alternately mask some symptoms while making others appear worse. I’m worried that people will (again) tell us its because he’s trilingual and we should drop a language or two because it’s too much. Or that it’s just because he’s trilingual and we should wait a while until he is stronger in all languages and see if the problems persist. However, we’ve already found out that he’s performing normally in all three languages. So this is irrelevant.

As far as making symptoms appear worse, I found a whole paper about bilinguals and dyslexia online. I’m currently reading it and it does outline some difficulties in evaluating and teaching bilingual children in Britain, but it appears to concentrate mainly on sequential bilingualism.

We Have a Speech Pathologist

After 4 months of calling people, waiting, calling more people, waiting more and not having people call us back, we finally have a speech therapist and it’s right close to home.

As some of you might remember, we originally went to the The Local Public School’s speech therapist to get Alpha’s speech evaluated. We had our first evaluation in February and our second one a month later, during which she told she’d like us to find someone who could evaluate his speech in German before moving forward. I called her twice since then and the second time, she never called back. Now it’s summer and I don’t know that she’s actually still available, so I don’t know if I’ll even bother.

However, when we took Alpha to be evaluated for motor skill weeknesses, I discussed our difficulties finding a speech pathologist with the occupational therapist and she said she’d talk to their speech therapist. Lo and behold, she called us back and said that their speech therapist had had German in high school and was willing to see Alpha and see what she could do.

At the end of his evaluation, she used the iPad to occupy him and talked to me about his speech. “Even without being fluent in German, I can tell that he qualifies for speech therapy in the public school system as he definitely has developmental speech delays.” Her evaluation showed that he has difficulties with the following sounds: N, H, D, G, V, th, TH, L, Er, S, Z, Sh, Z, Sh, Zh, Ch, and Dj. Furthermore, all blends are reduced. Sl becomes a mispronounced L, sp becomes p and gr become a rough g. “Looking at all the sounds he has difficulties with, it’s no wonder he’s hard to understand.” Her opinion was that the speech therapist in our town simply didn’t want to deal with a complicated case and was basically hoping we’d find someone else.

I’m a bit annoyed about that because, first of all, as property owners, a significant amount of our taxes directly pay for the schools. Secondly, since we have children, we are entitled to send our children there for special needs services, even if we don’t send our children to that school. When she asked us what our educational plans were, I told her honestly that we planned on homeschooling because we disagreed paedegogically with the way schools were run. I don’t know if that counted against me, I know of other homeschooling families in the area who use special services from the school. Lastly, throughout all of our contact, she spoke very politely about us raising our son multilingually and couched her statements with things like, “I want to deal with this politely, I don’t want to offend,” and so on and so forth. Now I feel like she was using these statements to express her dislike of the situation instead of honestly expressing herself because nowadays the vast majority of speech pathologists should be aware that raising a child multilingually is not a problem and there is no evidence suggesting multilingual children exhibiting speech disorders do better with one language.

Plus, she always spoke in this high-pitched baby voice that was seriously annoying.

Our current speech therapist is much more up front and direct with us, which I like.  This past week, DH took Alpha there to get a vocabulary test done because she wanted to see where his vocabulary was in all of his languages. She told DH afterwards that based on his performance in the speech evaluation, she would have pegged him at being about 16 months behind in both enunciation and vocabulary. But his performance in the vocabulary test suggested this is not true. Since my husband took him, they were able to do vocabulary tests in all three languages. The speech therapist did English, then my husband translated the words into Finnish and German. German was a bit tricky since DH didn’t know all the words and was incapable of pronouncing some of them so that Alpha could understand.  At any rate, with 100 being normal for a child of his age, he scored 99 in German, 98 in Finnish and 92 in English. A standard deviation was 15 points away from 100 in either direction. His results place him firmly in the normal range for vocabulary. It’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily a kosher method of measuring vocabulary in multilingual children, but it’s the best we could do. She also tested active vocabulary and he scored much lower: 84, which puts him at one standard deviation below the norm. However, she commented that she didn’t count this as a valid score as Alpha was visibly tired when they started this test, failed to answer many of the questions and a lot of his responses were incomprehensible as a result. They also ended before they reached the minimum number of questions necessary to calculate an accurate result. So she recommends retesting in 6 months when his pronunciation has improved.

Overall, I’m very happy with how she’s handling Alpha’s case. She notes that it is a unique situation and has said multiple times that while she is fluent in disordered 4 year old speech, she isn’t fluent in German or Finnish but is willing to give it her best shot. Unfortunately, she’s moving. Why does this always happen to us?

The good news is that she has faith in her replacement. She has also recommended we not start therapy until the end of July when her replacement takes over since it would be easier on Alpha to have one therapist to stick with instead of getting used to two. Once the replacement is working, Alpha should be in speech therapy one to two times a week in the beginning along with exercises at home.

I’m glad we’re finally making progress, it’s refreshing and I look forward to being able to understand the long garbled sentences that come out of Alpha’s mouth.