Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Why is My Bilingual Child’s Vocabulary Below Her Peers?
Dad reading to bilingual kids via Shutterstock
Dear Dr. Gupta,
Some background information first: We are raising our children German-English bilingually in the U.S. I am a native German and I speak German with the kids, but my husband speaks English and pre-school, school, etc. is all in English. There are not many other German-speaking families in the area we live. Our four- and six-year-old girls both speak German (with some grammar mistakes). I mainly contribute this to the twice yearly visits (usually for 2-3 months) from my German speaking parents and our yearly visits to Germany over the summer.
The oldest just turned six, she is in Kindergarten and just got her IOWA test of basic skills results back. She did very well overall but it was interesting to note that her vocabulary skills were well below all of her other skills. Reading, comprehension, listening (and math) were all well above 90%, but the vocabulary portion came in as 62%.
I was wondering if that is something common to bilingual kids? Do you know if others have had the same experience?
The books we are reading to the girls are mostly in German (Daddy reads only 1-2 per week in English on average) and we tend to focus as much as possible on German since it gets so little attention otherwise during their daily lives. But I am wondering now if I do need to start working and focusing on the girls’ English vocabulary some more? I am thinking to include some picture dictionaries in English (and both German and English) into our readings.
Thank you so much for any help and advice you might have.
~ Concerned about English Vocab
For more on this topic see Do Bilingual Children Know Fewer Words than Monolinguals?
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