Home

A Toddler’s Bilingual Christmas

4 Comments

Toddler's Bilingual Christmas

During the Christmas and New Year holidays it was fun to spend more time with our son and see how his language skills in English and Welsh have been developing. As I mentioned in one of my first posts about bilingualism, my wife speaks to our son in English and I speak to him in Welsh.

While my wife was at a Mindfulness course on one of the last few Saturdays before Christmas, I took our son to a few Christmas events near where we live in North Wales. To start, we went to a butterfly farm on Anglesey where Santa Claus was making a Christmas visit. The fact that we’ve visited this attraction several times in the last few months probably explains why ‘pili pala’ (butterfly) became the first word that our son has said in Welsh before he had come out with the English equivalent.

Our son didn't exactly hit it off with Santa straight away...

Our son didn’t exactly hit it off with Santa straight away…

Our son was a bit scared about going into Santa’s grotto with me and seemed to also be unsure about meeting Santa Claus, despite the fact that this Santa Claus clearly knew me. After having a chat with us in Welsh about Christmas, the bearded gift-giver then asked in Welsh ‘is dad going to be on the radio talking about the football again this afternoon?’. It seems that Mr. S. Claus is a regular spectator at Bangor City, where I regularly provide an online audio commentary on the home games that reaches supporters in far-flung locations such as the USA, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand and southern parts of Wales. I am still trying to work out where and when I’ve talked to this Santa at the football as he certainly dresses differently at Bangor City’s home games.

After our trip to meet Santa and a load of butterflies, our next stop was Caernarfon for a Christmas event being hosted by a fantastic local book store than sells a brilliant range of books in both Welsh and English. All day, there were fun activities for people of all ages. Just after we’d had lunch, we saw a concert by local band Plu who had just released a new Welsh language CD of songs about animals for kids. We now play this song in the car, which adds some welcome variety after the previous car CD of choice featuring a ditty about a ‘dingly dangly scarecrow’ had become a bit repetitive.

Thankfully our trip to watch the band Plu sing some songs for kids in a local bookshop didn't produce the same reaction as being introduced to Santa.

Thankfully our trip to watch the band Plu sing some songs for kids in a local bookshop didn’t produce the same reaction as being introduced to Santa.

After this excitement, our son decided that it was time for a nap rather than a trip to watch our local rugby team. As I have a distinct preference for football (a.k.a. soccer) over rugby, I was pleased to see that he had his priorities right. Last time we went to a football match, he made sure that he got in his nap before the game. When he had woken up again, we headed to the Bangor Christmas market where our son seemed particularly interested in the Christmas lights. However, shortly after pointing towards the festive illuminations he started saying ‘seagull’ in a gesture that demonstrated a greater fascination with local birds that the decorations.

During the Christmas holidays, I was really struck by how rapidly our son’s English vocabulary was expanding. Whilst this was great, I did wonder how long it would be before he started coming out with lots and lots of new words in Welsh (the language that I use when speaking to him). As my wife spends more time with our son during the week and mainly speaks English to him, it’s probably natural that his English vocab seemed to be increasing so noticeably. That said, our son has been able to do quite a good job of pronouncing the LL and CH sounds in Welsh for a few months now!

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn't yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn’t yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

During the Christmas and New Year break, I was really pleased to see our son start to say a few more Welsh words that i hadn’t heard him use before. For a few weeks now, he’s often pointed up to the sky and said ‘moon’ in English after having noticed the moon one afternoon at the local play park. He’s now able to say ‘lleuad’, the somewhat difficult to pronounce Welsh equivalent of moon. While watching Wallace and Gromit’s ‘A Grand Day Out’ just last week, he spent quite a lot of time pointing at the screen saying ‘lleuad’ whilst the plasticine duo explored the moon.

I’ve also had a bit of fun teaching our son new phrases in Welsh over the festive season. On one trip out to a supermarket, I managed to train him to say ‘Siôn Corn, ho ho ho!’ (‘Santa Claus, ho ho ho!’). It was an afternoon well spent. Every now and again, our son will come out with some Welsh words and phrases spontaneously. Last week when we were in the queue at a book shop, he started saying ‘dafad’ (sheep) and pointing at a calendar which featured pictures of the woolly animals that populate so many of the fields in the area where we live. However, the one of the main language highlights of the holidays was regularly hearing him say ‘nos da, tad’ (‘good night, dad’) on the way to bed.

What languages do you speak with your children? What do you think are the most important things that we can do as parents to boost our children’s language development? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Want to read more about bilingual parenting? Here are some more posts that I’ve written about this topic:

Being a Bilingual Parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Interview with Ana Flores about ‘Bilingual is Better’

Bilingual Parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a Bilingual Parent in Wales

Being a Bilingual Family in Wales

Tales of a Bilingual Toddler

I have added this post to the following parent blogger link ups:

20 thoughts from my 20th month as a parent

7 Comments

20 thoughts from my 20th month as a parent Read about baking, bilingualism and bicycles in my latest monthly round-up of some of my little highlights of being a parent…

1. Our son recently helped to prepare dinner but started crying when we put it in the oven. I think we’ll have to try to help him get over this as I don’t fancy switching to a raw food only diet.

2. Any idea what the following have in common: an Alan key, a bank card reader, a stone, a toy car, cuddly toys, a large piece of polystyrene packaging and a plastic spoon? They’re all things that our son has tried to take to bed with him in the last few months.

3. In the last few weeks, our son has enjoyed pushing a doll round our front room. However, it looks like he still needs to work on his baby carrying technique (see below). 2014-11-08 11.32.50 4. When picking up our son, I often count to three in Welsh (‘un, dau, tri’) and then say ‘whoosh’ as I lift him off the ground. He now seems to think that ‘whoosh’ is Welsh for four.

5. After cycling home from work, it was great to come in to see our son having fun on his new tricycle. He was moving around pretty quickly but I don’t think he’d be able to keep up with me on my trip to work on the cycle path yet. 2014-11-30 09.11.59 6. On the way to work last month, I saw a man who had painted his face purple. I think he was doing it for MAUVEmber.

7. When I bought a new bicycle recently, I decided to get one that had a horn on the handlebars. I tried to explain to our son that this was because I thought I might win the no bell prize.

8. While eating yoghurt today,19 month old son stopped, put finger in air and said ‘potato’. Can’t think where he gets weird sense of humour.

9. On a visit to a butterfly farm recently, our son’s two favourite things were washing his hands in the sink and watching a member of staff use a hoover. He wasn’t as interested in the meerkats or the llamas. 2014-11-30 15.57.43 10. Our son met Father Christmas for the first time at the same butterfly farm recently. He enjoyed it even less that seeing the meerkats or the llamas. Still, he did at least get a little red football from the man with the beard.

11. Talking of Christmas, how did Mary and Joseph know that Jesus was 7lb 6oz when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger!

12. Our son said the word ‘funny’ for the first time a few weekends ago. I’m surprised it’s taken him over 19 months given the quality of my jokes.

13. Our son has shown an interest in some books more than others recently. A few nights ago, he quickly gave up on his Thomas the Tank Engine book before spending ages engrossed in a book of ice cream recipes.

14. In fact, he’s been so interested in reading that I’m thinking of employing him as a researcher for this blog. He’s been hard at work on this task recently (see below). 2014-11-15 17.18.12 15. He’s also keen to play a role in writing on the blog now… 2014-11-18 08.19.02 16. In fact, our son was actually on eBay when I took the photo above. He was trying to put in a bid for Rudolph and Blitzen. I had to stop him and tell him that we couldn’t buy them as they were two deer.

17. Our son quite enjoyed helping to decorate our Christmas tree recently. However, he also enjoyed starting to un-decorate it (see picture below). 2014-12-14 10.06.58 18. Our son seems to be looking forward to Christmas at the moment, although I’m not sure quite to what extent it is capturing his imagination. At a recent Christmas market, I thought that he was pointing up at the decorations but instead he started saying ‘seagull, seagull’. In some ways this is a good thing as seagulls are present in North Wales for a larger proportion of the year than Christmas decorations.

19. The floor of our living room in our house was recently covered with toys, as it often is. This apparently wasn’t enough for our son. He went into the kitchen and grabbed two leeks to play with. Leeks are very much associated with Wales but it’s not – as far as I’m aware – customary for toddlers in Wales to use them as toys.

20. Our son recently started trying to peel the labels off tin cans in our food cupboard. Next time we try to make a Thai curry, it might have coconut milk in it or it might have baked beans instead. 2014-12-15 19.06.09 What do you think of this post and what do you remember from your first two years as a parent? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Similar posts

Being a dad – celebrating the little things

6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent

7 thoughts from my 7th month as a parent

8 thoughts from my 8th month as a parent

9 thoughts from my 9th month as a parent

10 thoughts from my 10th month as a parent

11 thoughts from my 11th month as a parent

12 thoughts from my 12th month as a parent

13 thoughts from my 13th month as a parent

14 thoughts from my 14th month as a parent

15 thoughts from my 15th month as a parent

16 thoughts from my 16th month as a parent

17 thoughts from my 17th month as a parent

18 thoughts from my 18th month as a parent

19 thoughts from my 19th month as a parent Baby’s first year in 12 photos

I have added this post the following parent blogger link-ups:

A toddler’s Christmas in Wales

16 Comments

A Toddler's Christmas in Wales

As a child, I generally spent Christmas in Scotland with my parents and sometimes we went to see family in Ireland over the festive season. We also spent Christmas 1982 in California as we lived in San Jose from 1982-1983. As our son’s only 19 months old, we haven’t really got into a Christmas routine yet as last year was his first Christmas. Indeed, he was kind enough to write me a blog post about what it was like.

At the age of only 8 months old, our son was kind enough to write a blog post about his first Christmas...

At the age of only 8 months old, our son was kind enough to write a blog post about his first Christmas…

Last year, we went to the south east of England to spend Christmas with about twenty members of my wife’s family. This year, we’ve decided to do things slightly differently. We moved to a new house just over three months ago and have decided to invite my parents and my wife’s parents to spend Christmas with us here in Wales as we now have a bit more space. The local area is rural and quite hilly and I’d go as far as saying that it can almost look like Narnia when it snows.

DSCF2283

I’d really like there to be snow this year as our son is yet to have his first experience of walking in snow or building a snowman. That said, wet weather will be good too as I know that Santa Claus thinks that it helps his rain-deer. As you may have guessed from the last sentence, I’m quite keen on the British tradition of telling corny jokes at Christmas. In fact, I talked about this last year in a post entitled 5 things I like about Christmas in the UK.

In a lot ways, we probably don’t always have a very traditional British Christmas as my wife, son and I are vegetarian. Instead of having turkey, we often make a spicy nut roast with tomato chilli gravy. We do have the traditional roast potatoes and brussel sprouts, but I quite like to stir fry the sprouts with soy sauce, chilli and paneer (an Indian form of cheese). At work last year, my colleagues collectively decided to forego a traditional Christmas meal for our end of term evening out and instead had a fantastic Chinese buffet. Consequently, we had fortune cookies rather than Christmas crackers. As it happens, we’re going back to the same place for our pre-Christmas outing again this year.

2014-11-22 09.41.46

Our son has already been getting into the Christmas spirit and has been enjoying wearing his two Christmas jumpers. We actually let him wear them before December had started as we went to a Christmas market about ten days ago in the nearby town of Llandudno. Doing anything to mark Christmas before it’s actually December, such as putting up decorations, doesn’t really feel right but it was fun to take him out to the market.

As it happens, some of the students that I teach at university were talking a few weeks ago about how they found it irritating to see decorations up while it was still November. I had to break it gently to them that we were about to study a book whose first word was ‘Noël’. The novel in question was Azouz Begag’s Béni ou le Paradis Privé, which tells the story of boy who is born in Lyon to Algerian parents. The opening sees the boy talk in a jovial manner about his experiences of being from a Muslim family in France in the weeks before Christmas. As part of this revolves around the boy wanting his parents to get a Christmas tree, I decided to deliver the first class about the novel with a miniature Christmas tree and Father Christmas on the desk at the front of the classroom. It was still November, but I think my students let me get away with it.

2014-11-24 13.17.32

Whatever you are doing to mark Christmas this year, and even if you’re not, I’d like to wish everyone reading this a great end to 2014 and a fantastic 2015.

I’ve written this post as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs series ‘Christmas in Different Lands’. Click on this link if you would like to read more posts by parent bloggers about Christmas around the world.

What did you think of this blog post and what did you and your family enjoy most about Christmas?  Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Baby’s first Christmas

20 Comments

PicMonkey Xmas Collage

In a guest post, my eight month old son talks about his first Christmas….

Well, a lot of these posts on this blog are about me so it’s only right that I should be able to have my say on here from time to time. A lot of people think that I’m making at the moment are ‘just babbling’ but there is more to it than that, and I hope to show how I’m developing an understanding of the world around me in this blog post. You may think that it’s odd for an eight month old to be doing a guest post, but remember that quite a few of the posts on this blog are proofread by the fluffy tiger pictured below.

2013-06-12 10.20.55

Christmas Day started early, at 5.30am to be precise (…although some would argue that really it began just after the clock struck midnight and Christmas Eve came to a close). Mummy and daddy told the rest of the family that they opened their presents to each other at 5.30am because I’d woken up but the reality is that they tickled my feet so as they could have an excuse to start opening their presents.

A lot of people think that playing with wrapping paper is one of the highlights of Christmas for babies, but the more well-informed parent bloggers (such as the one who writes at The Ugly Volvo) realise that this is not the case. I did shake some of the wrapping paper and presents, although this was mainly my way of expressing my frustration at being up at 5.30am during a time of year that is referred to as part of the holiday season. Teething and have a nappy that needs changing are good reasons for getting up early, but I’m not sure if this whole ‘Christmas’ thing fully justifies waking at such an hour. My first present was a knitted dinosaur that my mum made for me. My grandad tells me that it’s a wool-a-saurus.

2013-12-25 05.48.03

I enjoyed a Christmas breakfast of porridge followed by a prune, which is pretty similar to what I have most days really. Lunch was a bit more of a big thing though as I was allowed to help myself to some of the food off mummy and daddy’s plates. I ate my first mini Yorkshire pudding and also tried some sprouts, carrots and a roast potato. It was all quite nice but I decided to pass on the nut roast and Christmas pudding.

During Christmas lunch, I played with one of these things that are called ‘Christmas Crackers’. In case you don’t know what these are, I think that my daddy explained this in his recent blog post entitled 5 Things I liked about Christmas in the UK. Christmas crackers contain jokes and, like my daddy’s jokes, they aren’t always the best jokes in the world. My dad told a lot of Christmas cracker jokes on Christmas Day. Here are some of the less bad jokes that he shared with everyone:

Why did no-one bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay? Because they are two deer.

A drum kit with no drumsticks is a great Christmas present. In fact, you just can’t beat it.

How did Mary and Joseph know that Jesus was 7 pounds 8 ounces when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger.

See what I mean about the quality of his jokes? In her wedding speech last year, mummy apparently told daddy that she was marrying him despite his sense of humour rather than because of it. With jokes like that, I can see why. What is it with dads and bad jokes?

My daddy told me that he saw these two guys at the elf service counter when he was at the supermarket...

My daddy told me that he saw these two guys at the elf service counter when he was at the supermarket…

As it happens, I almost missed Christmas lunch. I’d been put upstairs in the room mummy and daddy were staying in at mummy’s aunt and uncle’s house but thankfully mummy and daddy were using a device called a baby monitor that they’d just bought. To me it’s not a baby monitor, it’s more of a parental room service call device. I just make a noise and they come to see what’s up. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

I was taken up and down to the bedroom quite a few times on Christmas Day as I was so excited that I didn’t really want to go to bed in the evening. Mummy kept taking me up to bed and giving me a feed to try to get me to sleep but ending up having to take me back downstairs to see everyone again as I kept refusing to go to sleep. Every time she did this, I found daddy telling more Christmas jokes and I had second thoughts about whether deciding not to go to sleep was the right decision. He had a long list of these jokes as he apparently told 100 Christmas cracker jokes while commentating on a football match online just before Christmas.

Vote for Dad’s The Way I Like It!

Anyway, daddy said that I could be as mean as I wanted about his jokes as long as I mentioned that he’s been nominated in the Best Newcomer category of the Love All Dads dad blogger awards for 2013. Once you click on that link in the last sentence, a single mouse click on ‘Dad’s the Way I Like It’ is all it takes to vote for him. He’s said that he might even reduce the number of Christmas jokes he tells next Christmas and also let me do another guest post if he wins, so what more incentive could you possibly want?

What did you think of this blog post and what did you and your family enjoy most about Christmas?  Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740375757/.

5 things I like about Christmas in the UK

28 Comments

In this post, I’m going to talk about the little things about Christmas in the UK that I cherish most. Some of them may be quite well known, while others are not. Indeed, the first item on my list is something that I wasn’t aware of until this year. This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series being run by Multicultural Kid Blogs.

The height of festive fashion in the UK!

The height of festive fashion in the UK!

1. Christmas Jumper Day

In recent years, it has become ‘in’ to own and wear a Christmas jumper. These sweaters typically portray a winter scene (e.g. snow coming down on a hillside) or feature pictures of Santa Claus, reindeer or penguins. They are a bit retro and kitsch, but they have apparently somehow gained a sort of coolness. My wife has some cousins who always go to a local pub on Christmas day where they compete against another family to see who can wear the most tasteless Christmas jumper.

At our work Christmas meal this year, at which I was wearing the highly tasteful Christmas jumper pictured on the left, one of my colleagues mentioned that there is now an annual Christmas Jumper Day. This year it fell on Friday 13th December. The idea is that schools, colleges and workplaces encourage people to wear a Christmas jumper on the day and donate at least £1 to Save the Children, a charity that seeks to promote children’s health and education around the world. I think it’s great to have this sort of event that encourages people to give something that can really make a difference to people who are in poverty or facing other hardships (…which reminds me that I have a bag of old clothes and DVDs that I need to take to a local charity shop).

 

2. Christmas crackers and Christmas cracker jokes

Pulling Christmas crackers before tucking into a festive meal, especially lunch on Christmas Day, is a bit of a tradition here in Britain. Christmas crackers are made of cardboard tubes wrapped in shiny paper. One person pulls on each end, and the crackers snap making a small bang due to a thin paper banger inside them. When they break, the person who ends up with the larger part of the cracker gets to keep the contents (typically a paper crown, a joke that they have to read out and a small novelty or toy).

Christmas crackers are renowned for containing jokes that some people see as not being of a particularly high quality. I quite like these and have been tweeting a Christmas cracker joke on Twitter (@j_ervine) every day during the month of December using the hashtag #ChristmasCrackerJokes. Here are a few of my favourites:

What did Santa say to the smoker? Please don’t smoke, it’s bad for my elf!

What do angry mice send each other in December? Cross mouse cards!

What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees? Horn-aments!

You’re probably all groaning as much as laughing, but I do enjoy these jokes from time to time. Christmas jokes are generally fairly predictably bad, but there’s something about them that I can’t quite put my finger on that I really like about them. If you want to hear a few more festive rib-ticklers, click on this link.

2013-12-16 22.30.25

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

3. Watching A Child’s Christmas in Wales

I’ve heard quite a few discussions about favourite Christmas films recently. For me, a 1980s telefilm called A Child’s Christmas in Wales tops the list. I remember watching it on television during Christmas 1988 with my parents and the charm of the adventures based on Dylan Thomas’s short story of the same name in which what happens at Christmas is told from the innocent and somewhat romanticized perspective of a child. In the telefilm, a grandad played by the actor Denholm Elliott tells his grandson about his memoires of Christmas time back when he was growing up.

For years, we relied on an old VHS recording of the 1989 television broadcast of A Child’s Christmas in Wales but last year I managed to get hold of a DVD copy. It’s impossible to find a UK DVD version, but the fact that the telefilm was a Welsh-Canadian co-production means that a North American DVD version exists. Last year, I watched the DVD as my wife and I geared up for what was my first ever Christmas in Wales since moving to work here in 2007.

4. Being a vegetarian and the culinary freedom it brings

For many people in the UK, a turkey is the centre-piece of the main Christmas meal that is eaten at lunchtime on December 25th. However, this is something that I have never tasted as I was brought up as a vegetarian and remain one today. I like the freedom to pick and choose a bit more when it comes to the Christmas menu without feeling the need to be traditional. Vegetarian Christmas dishes that I have enjoyed eating include a vegetable pine nut roulade that my mum used to make on a regular basis.

Nut roast is another vegetarian festive classic although I feel that it can sometimes be a bit bland. For that reason, I quite like Masala Nut Roast which includes quite a few spices as well as the nuts and vegetables. Last year, when my wife and I were hosting both sets of parents, we made Masala Nut Roast and served it with a spicy tomato gravy, roast potatoes and a stir-fried Brussels sprout and tofu side dish. Sprouts are a very traditional – it not universally popular – Christmas vegetable in the UK. They really benefited from being sliced and stir-fried in this recipe that also includes mushrooms, tofu and chilli sauce.

IMAG0554

Plum pudding

5. Good company and good food

I guess that this last point is not really UK-specific at all, but it is certainly the most important. In a lot of ways, what I enjoy most about Christmas is relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Even though I may now be in my mid-30s, I still do get a sense of excitement about Christmas and I really enjoy some of the special foods such as Plum Pudding and Christmas Cake.

This year will be my first since becoming a parent in April and my wife and I will be staying with her relatives in the south east of England and introducing our 8 month old son to many of them for the first time. I was thinking that he’s bound to be happy as long as he can play with the wrapping paper, but a recent post on The Ugly Volvo blog humorously suggested that there are a lot of other things that babies of this sort of age really want to get their hands on at Christmas. I’m not entirely sure what to expect but I’m looking forward to it all and am sure that it will be special!

What did you think of this post and what do you like most about celebrating Christmas? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it – here’s the link to its pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740284268/

%d bloggers like this: