Linguistic principle: in order for someone to learn a language, that someone should be exposed to that language. That is where language acquisition starts.
I have always (well, since I learned it) been amused by this principle. I found the idea of exposing someone to a certain language and suddenly, this someone has the potential of experiencing restricted communication in another language, captivating.
My four-year-old daughter has been exposed to the English language since a few months after her conception. Interesting fact: even though her mommy does not speak English, my wife is highly proficient regarding listening comprehension. So my daughter linguistic context is the following: daddy speaks in English to her and her little brother, but in Spanish to everyone else. Mommy speaks in Spanish to her and occasionally some Guarani is introduced as well. Most of the children surrounding her speak Spanish and TV does it as well.
Nevertheless, even though my daughter’s linguistic context is mainly in Spanish, this English input by one of her parents does influence in her language development. I’ve been collecting sample expressions of the jopara (Guarani word meaning “mixture”) my daughter produces:
“¿me podés dar agua cool? (Can I have cool water?)
“voy a poner jabón en mi tummy” (I’ll soap my tummy)
“¡¡vamos a hacer bubbles!!” (let’s make some bubbles!)
“no quiero apple, quiero jugar con el ball” (I don’t want apple, I want to play with the ball)
In these examples we can see that she produces a whole Spanish sentence, but replaces one specific word in English. An adjective in the first example, followed by nouns in the other three examples. But this is not always the case. For her, the “peek-a-boo, I see you!” expression or the whole “humpty dumpty” song are so “natural”, so part of herself since she has been exposed to these English classics all her life. The secret? be consistent. I had decided to talk to my children in English way before they were born. I see results now, which make me very happy.
Following, English nursery rhyme “this little piggy” for you to enjoy