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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi, Great site! Can you help as I'm starting to worry about my 2 1/2 year old boy.

We are native English speakers and have been living in the North of Spain for about 1 1/2 now. We speak English at home with the children, but Spanish when out and about. We read and listen to things in both languages.

Our daughter (5) goes to a bilingual school (90% Spanish children, curriculum split 70/30 English to Spanish) and we've been told she is almost bilingual and has a better accent than some of the native kids so no worries there! However, our youngest is a little odd in that he will quite happily speak Spanish with our neighbours, with friends in the park (his and mine) BUT seems to refuse to speak at his nursery. He has been going there for almost as long as we have lived here, and spends 12 hours a week there (only Spanish is spoken there).

He was only 19 months when we moved here and said very little in English at that point, his English has developed slower than his sisters did but as he quite happily puts 6 or more words into a sentance he has no problems there. He can quite happily string sentances together in Spanish, although usually its 'mira otro gato alli' or something like that!! He understands if I ask him questions in Spanish and has shown understanding of different concepts in nursery too, however, the moment the door opens at his nursery, he goes silent and will say very little - mio, no quiero...although he has started to wave goodbye in the last two days, although he can say it!

This seems to have started since Christmas, when we were in the UK for a fortnight and he did seem to loose his Spanish for a while when we got back..Is he just taking a very long time to settle or what? Or is this just a power thing! He will start at the same school as my daughter in September so I don't want to move him - Any ideas!!


Kristina Campbell
Reply with quote  #2 
It looks like it could be a case of Selective Mutism - where a child doesn't speak in a specific social situation, despite speaking in other situations.  Is there a Speech-Language Pathologist in your area?  It would be a good idea to get an assessment from either the SLP or family doctor to see if Selective Mutism is indeed the case.  I've read that most children eventually overcome Selective Mutism, but the main reason to address it early is so the child doesn't miss out on social and academic opportunities.  I also think parental patience is key in the whole issue, and it sounds like you've got lots of that!

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