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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri

2.09.2011

Ivy's Language

Ivy did not speak a bit of English when I met her last year. She knew a few nouns like cat, dog, coke. But, that was it. So, we communicated quite well those 2 weeks. I pointed to things and gave the English word or phrase. She seemed to understand and caught on quickly. During those first few months home I just let her learn. I helped her say words the correct way, never over-correcting her wrong usage of pronouns. Ivy got to the point where she felt comfortable with her English, but no one could understand a word she said...she spoke too quickly.

Fast forward 12 months. I feel like the bad mom. Should I have done more correcting last year? Am I expecting too much? She still misuses her pronouns, she leaves out important words in a sentence, and my most bothersome....she leaves the end sounds off her words. For example, leave off all the consonant sounds of the following words and this is how Ivy will say them: bed, God, teeth, dog, what. Get the idea? This would not be so bad if she lived in China and her native language was Chinese and only spoke English now and then. But, she does not speak Chinese anymore. She has moved on to all English. Instead of a sentence that should be said, "How do you draw a cat?", she would say to me, "How you draw a ca?". She leaves off important helping verbs. Since I am a home school mom, this is very difficult for me. I feel like I should not have let her have free reign with her language those first few months. Ivy has developed terrible language habits. I feel like I am spending more time correcting her than encouraging her. I do not want her to quit reading aloud because of all my correcting. But, I cannot let it go. Her pronunciation is also lacking on certain sounds, which I know are because of her ethnicity, and I am not sure if she will ever overcome those. They are making the "n" sound instead of the "l" sound. She just cannot get that "l" at all. She has terrible struggles with the "r" sound, whether at the end of a word, or in a blend sound. This makes for terrible spelling in such words as "spring". Ivy says it as spwing, and spells it wrong. She consistently interchanges the short vowels "i" and "e". Ivy goes to a cleft clinic and has had her hearing checked. When I stress the words, she will sound or spell them correctly. Even when she reads, she will leave off the ending sound of the words. So, I know her hearing is fine. Ivy's cleft is minor, only affecting her upper gum line. I know that speech therapy is going to be in her future, but to be honest, Ivy is not even trying to change the way she talks. I wonder why.

So, I would really love to hear from those who have adopted older children. How are your child's language skills? Is this normal? Am I overreacting? Any suggestions on how to deal with it? Will it get better? Ivy is really doing great, and I know her language skills are very good considering how long she has been home.

12 kind words:

Anonymous

Hi Cheri,
David (11) was adopted at two but he had a terrible time with ending consonants. We were told that Korean was a very slurred language compared to English, and of course, that's all he heard for the first two years of his life. Even today, we have to remind him to "articulate" and get all of his consonants in. He tends to have very lazy speech when he is not paying attention. I think a lot of it is habit and these kids also think they sound okay. Maybe use a tape recorder, or computer microphone, and say a word and then have Ivy say it so she can hear the difference. When she reads out loud, have a bowl of M&M's by you, and every time she puts the ending sound on a word let her have a treat. Just my two cents worth. You're right, though, you don't want to bug her too much though. Believe it or not, David does not qualify for speech at this point but I'm hoping that as he becomes more conscious of what others think of him, he'll improve.
Anne in AZ

Judi

Haleigh has been home nine months and is only saying a few dozen nouns. No phrases or sentences. And most of them other people probably wouldn't recognize. I have heard that it is very common for older adoptees from China to leave off the ending sounds. Speech therapy is going to be a part of our lives for a long time as well, I'm guessing! I keep hoping it will just start to come!

Sandy B

I think many of Ivy's speech problems are due to her cleft. She may have some problems with her upper palate. I would recommend speech therapy now. The therapist can work with Ivy and then give you additional exercises that you can continue to work with Ivy.
My son was also born with a cleft lip and palate. The speech therapist helped a lot!

Amy

I can't wait to read the comments since we are dealing with the same things over here... Basic communication wasn't a problem at the beginning but it is really tough now that we need to talk about more than just the basics. Ty is having a hard time with all of the same things Ivy is... A speech teacher just sent me this article and it explains to a "T" what is going on. Hope it helps http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/chinese.htm
Blessings, Amy

Shirlee McCoy

Well, Cheeky still messes up her pronouns sometimes. She still leaves out little words sometimes (like is, it, as). Her biggest struggle right now is with verb tenses. IE, she will say (or write) the dog bark today instead of The dog barks today.

Here is how I see it. My daughter has been here for nineteen months. She knew no English before we met. In nineteen month she has attained an astonishing vocabulary and is able to converse easily. She still messes up. It is still obvious that English is not her first language. However, she is fluent in that she is able to communicate all thoughts and feelings easily.

I do correct her. I've worked with her on those end sounds and on the sounds she didn't make in Mandarin (th, L). She's got those down (most of the time). It just takes time.

In another three years, Ivy will be like any other English speaking child. For now, just keep helping her the best way you can. She'll get it. Really. She will.

Love for Lilly Yin

Ditto. You know Lilly is cleft affected as well. She has private speech therapy once a week. I was recently talking to her ST about this and she explained it this way. When a baby learns to talk the learn nouns first, then string nouns together, and after 3-4 years they speak correct sentences. So she is acquiring her language normally. After a year she is much further in her language than say a two year old, but she is not as far as she should be. I think it just takes time.

lalalorlor

My oldest daughter came home at 5 years old. She peaked with her English at the middle of 1st grade and didn't progress any farther. We even had her repeat second grade to give her a chance to catch up - no dice. It wasn't until the start of 3rd grade that I finally got the school to provide her speech. I had to prove that it wasn't just an ESL issue by using her brother and her cousin. Her brother was adopted 2 years after she was and had complete English skills by the end of kindergarten - but he's a bit of an overacheiver!! Her cousin was also adopted 2 years after her at age 7 and has a moderate to high hearing loss. Even with the hearing deficit, he quickly surpassed my daughter in English skills. None of the 3 had any previous English skills before coming home - the only difference was both boys had foster families and my daughter did not. After 5 months of speech 2 times per week, I am finally seeing bits of improvement in her sentence structure! The speech teacher has never come out and said what my daughter's diagnosis is, but I believe she has a form of apraxia.

Anonymous

When I had our son checked, the therapist encouraged us to work with hime on one or two things per week. Then move on to a new sound, etc. She believed that more corrections would just prove harder to grasp and prove frustrating. Just a thought!
If you decide you want to pursue speech therapy,in Maryland, if your child is evaluated through the health department and is shown to need speech therapy, it is provided through the local schools (even if you homeschool) for free. Speech therapy here is very expensive.
Holly

Lindy

I follow two blogs where homeschooling moms have tried to do speech themselves. When they finally had their children go to speech therapy, they were so happy with the results I think speech therapy should be done sooner than later, especially since she loves to learn.

trina

True in my county as well. Our local school will provide free speech therapy. Considering it for Alaina and some of her words. :) Hudson cannot say the letter 's' at all. Might be driving them both to the public school. :) trina

Anonymous

I am an ELL teacher (English Language Learner or ESL or ESOL). Your daughter is totally normal. You did not give her bad habits, she needs to go through each phase of language learning just like babies do in their native language. Just continue to model and have her repeat. Her brain will learn new structures when it is ready. It takes roughly 2-3 years to fully acquire social language and 8-10 to acquire academic language proficiency. She sounds like she's doing great.

Anonymous

Yup, accepted ESL wisdom around here says on average kids take 5 to 7 years to achieve proficiency in English. Often they do acquire "social English" or "playground language" much more quickly but their ease in conversational language can mask their weakness in academic language. Continue to be aware that they need extra support and consideration for years even though they may sound totally fluent in casual conversation.

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