One complication is that little kids don't pronounce things correctly when they're learning to speak, but their parents can usually guess at the words based on context, and reward the language by giving them what they request. It makes it harder to guess what he's saying when it might be a mispronounced English word, Spanish word, or nonsense noise.
Collage of James's Spanish booksAnother unusual thing is that I did a little reading on raising bilingual children. It was my understanding that, at first, James would learn one word for each item without regard for language, but that he would only learn the one word. Well, this is not turning out to be the case. Like many little boys, James is obsessed with light fixtures, and he says both light and "luz," the word for light in Spanish. I'm not sure what to expect going forward. I exclusively spoke Spanish for 4 years before I started learning English so my experience was different than James's will be.
Here's his current list of words/ word-like-babble in order of frequency:
- "ight" = light
- "loosh" = luz (Spanish for light)
- "go go"= Diego (sometimes he actually says Diego, but rarely)
- Boos Coos = Blues Clues
- "ow" = used to convey painless injuries (he actually cries when he's hurt)
- agua/aba = Spanish for water
- tete = Spanish for pacifier, but I suspect he might also be referring to "leche" or milk
- "ba pa" = back pack (from Diego)
- Click = the camera on Dora and Diego
- arbol = Spanish for tree
James and "Mama" at home
"Dada" and James at the park