Hello! I am Heather from TinyTalk baby signing and I teach baby signing in Leicester in the UK. I love what I do and come across many different families while teaching. I have been teaching now since September 2008 and lots of children no longer attend and are doing very well in school. I have had children that do not speak English as a first language. I have heard many debates on if each parent will speak their own language the child might be slower to talk and then pick it up. I have also heard that if a child's parents both speak the same language but not English then the child will pickup the mother tongue really well and also English if they attend lots of social sessions etc. A big debate there in a sense but teaching from birth is the key as a baby has a amazing brain and it is the time the neurons are truly active. Now I don't know too much about the neurons in the brain but I did read a lot from the book baby minds by Susan Goodwin and Linda Accredolo. I also heard a lot about those neurons when learning more about ADHD and we can go on. I do know though that the families that have used signing with their children have been able to communicate with their children using both their own language and English. If parents speak another language then the same form of signing is used by each parent in England here we use BSL, but use the system for your country you live which may vary place to place. That you know as if it is the same as the country you live in then other people that also know the signing system will understand as well and it really does build confidence. So yes both parents use the same signing system but say the words in their own language. For instance had my husband listened to me and spoke Turkish or Kurdish to our children and perhaps it would have been Turkish ( he didn't unfortunately as worked a lot and he thought he would have confused the children, such a shame as they do not understand grandma on the phone it is very sad so please do not let this happen to any of you), I begged him every time, in fact Azad may have understood quite a lot but spoke quite early and because he spoke English my husband spoke back in English also) we would have signed food/yemek the same as in food or eat bunch hand to the mouth. Remember it is very important to talk clearly as we sign to hearing babies and even perhaps to Deaf babies as they can learn to lip read also and link that with the signing although with Deaf children it would be good for them to mix with Deaf culture to get used of the body language that also is a form of communication. We only sign the ley words in the vocabulary to begin with and as you learn to sign you can start to add more also as your little one learns those signs, it is good to wait for the show of recognition such as excitement when signing milk etc .
A girl that came to my classes her parents both came along and joined in really well and they spoke in their home tongue at home to their daughter but spoke in English out and about and to each other, this little girl who English was not her first language sang baa baa black sheep so beautifully at the sweet age 2 I was amazed, she sang really clearly and lovely and I understand it to be due to many factors, her parents both help with the child care both parents talk to her a lot and explain many things and also that she came to TinyTalk tee hee, the signing really helps link the two languages together.
It also helps when they start school in the very first year, here in the UK they start what they call Foundation One in parts of the country and the children are as young as 3 as it is the September after their 3rd birthday that they join well in Leicester it is any way, different parts of the country have different methods, the foundation one is part time and then the following year is foundation 2 or the reception year and that is full time school, anyway some children will go to school not speaking very well and more and more schools are incorporating signing to be used, last year my son Azad helped the teachers learn some signs to use. What I am getting at is if children have learned signs from a early age to help communicate before they can talk and also to bridge that gap reducing the frustration and carried on learning for fun, then when at school can help those that may need to sign or those that have learned to sign but English is not their first language and they might have to learn to understand and speak it and do so with the help of the signs they know as it can all link together.
There are so many benefits for using signing with young children whether they have one or two or multiple languages, it has helped my son at school help others that were not quite talking, this year they used signing in the Christmas play I was very impressed. The signing also uses different parts of the brain and so has even more benefits working the brain and also having some visual learning.
So there you have it using signing with children that have different languages, I might add though if one parent does not partake the child will not be able to link together so well but will still get there and learn the other language. I have found when more people sign with baby especially if they have older siblings they learn very quickly indeed so have fun relax, play signing games too and until next time my dears.
Heather TinyTalk Leicester
I am a mother of 4, teach baby signing and also BSL level 2 qualified, love TKD and much more.