[quote=“tomthorne”]In fact, pretty much nobody in first or second language acquisition agrees with (outside of Taiwanese buxibans ). Language can not be taught to a fifteen month old child - either first or second language. A lot of posters on here don’t think that language can be taught to people of any age. That perhaps is open to debate, but to a fifteen month old child ! All you need to do is increase the input - seven billion language speakers across the globe can’t all be wrong.
If your nanny isn’t providing the input, and you are able to speak Chinese, then why not start communicating to your child in Chinese? S/he is in an English speaking environment, so the English will come regardless of pretty much anything you do. If you are worried about not providing native speaker input - in my opinion it really isn’t that much of an issue.
Asking for books, methods, or the availability of teachers to teach a 15 month old child a language is the sort of thing I used to hear from Taiwanese parents who then sent their kids to HESS.[/quote]
I sort of feel like the supposed disagreement here is purely semantic. Most of the teachers here are against “teaching” to children, where teaching means sitting at a desk listening to a lecture. However, most of the teachers here would be for “language activities”, which are natural, rich, linguistic interactions centered around various activities in the child’s life and could be routine activities like diaper changing or could be non-routine activities like going to a park and playing with a dog that you encountered at the park. “Teaching” involves the child consciously learning something; “language activities” involve unconsciously and indirectly learning something through hearing and engagement. Correct me if I’m wrong but that seems to be the division line.
Despite using some words that are apparently very laden with bad history and are bound to bring up memories of misguided Taiwanese parents who want their infants to go to language “teaching” classes, I think that through this thread you can see that I have primarily been talking about materials that will help provide “language activities” so the child can indirectly and unconsciously learn language through hearing and engagement.
The materials I am looking for are to get the nanny to buy in by laying out for the nanny why and how rich language interaction results in language proficiency. From some of the suggestions provided here, I am now also considering simpler Chinese-language parenting materials that simply talk about the important of rich language interactions with a baby without any specific activities. Perhaps that will do the trick. But I suspect that a teaching manual will be more useful because it may give the nanny more concrete ideas of activities to engage the baby in, things to do with the baby, etc. I can’t necessarily rely on the nanny having the same vested interest in the child that the parent will have. A parent will naturally spend their free time thinking of activities or ways to benefit the baby; rather than relying on the nanny to do the same, since maybe only the best nannies might be so dedicated, having a teaching manual with activities laid out in an easy to follow fashion seems like it would work better.
As I’ve said, parents need to be taught how to parent too. For me, who had never really ever interacted with children before my own (except when I was one myself), there was no such thing as being “natural” with a baby. I had to be told what to do. There are a lot of parenting materials and guides that provide explicit suggestions for parental interactions with babies, some of which are intended to have linguistic benefits. After telling a nonresponsive baby you’re going to change his diaper a handful of times, the only thing that keeps you doing it is the little adviser on your shoulder that says, “hey, you read this thing in a book that told you to constantly tell the baby what you’re doing so he’ll absorb the language. keep talking buster!”
So if parents need some training, I don’t see why nannies can’t benefit from the same training too. The interactions suggested in parenting books are not “teaching” in a stiff formalized sense of sitting at a desk listening to a lecture. The suggested interactions are suggested activities to do with infants and toddlers that over time will have the effect of teaching them certain words or phrases and language generally. For example, playing hide and seek helps teach the baby its own name (“where is Jason hiding?”), the names of objects or locations in the house (“Is Jason hiding in the bathroom?”), location prepositions (“Is Jason hiding under the crib?” “Is Jason hiding behind the crib?”)
[quote=“bababa”]To the OP: since you are home when the nanny is with the baby, you can see what she is doing. Does she play with him? Read him stories? If not, just what exactly does she do for the four hours every day? Feed him, change his diapers, and then what?
And does the baby seem attached to her? If not, I would wonder about the quality of the interaction between the two, never mind what language was being used.[/quote]
Well, the attachment level is hard to tell. I don’t know if Taiwanese people are less emotive with infants than Americans. I haven’t seen any Taiwanese parents with babies. And there’s also the personality factor. She’s more reserved. She doesn’t get all silly with him and kiss him and hug him all the time like we do.
Because we’re that way towards him, he’ll run up to us and want to be held or hugged. We actively try to do things he’ll find funny and laugh. We may be more engaging because we’re his parents, or it could just be because our personalities are more warm, silly and active. We treat him like a real person who understands what we say. We try to get him to laugh, or we expect him to respond to our questions or commands.
With her, she mostly follows him around while he runs around. He’s quite active now, so he’s not a captive audience like he was before he could walk and run. She does sit him down from time to time and read to him or show him a picture book. I feel like she lets him run around too much without any actual interaction, and then the direct engagement she does have with him feels to me like it’s lower quality than our engagement with him. I want it to be more personal engagement of his personality, but is that just a reserved personality, or is that her not being aware that she needs to exhibit more of those qualities with a baby? It may also be a bit of a vicious cycle with her: he still doesn’t have any Mandarin comprehension, and she continues to behave like he’s an infant with no comprehension so she doesn’t actively engage him as much as she could. Or it could also be her personality and culture makes her more reserved around an infant.
She does many things right, in terms of being reliable, trustworthy, feeding him (he’s not easy to feed). And continuity of care is so important for babies. Plus it takes months for a nanny to learn the personality of the baby. So it’s not really a practical option to just change nannies whenever they don’t do something perfect. It’s much more practical to just retrain your nanny so that they do things better.