Playing With Language


Everyday now, Mr. T is gaining in confidence with his language skills.  I still don’t think he has realised that he is learning two different languages, but he is picking up more words and experimenting with more sounds all the time.  One of the joys of this has been to see he creativity with language and his ability to play with it.

On The Bus

One game that we developed totally by accident is a sort of ‘follow-the-leader’ or listen and repeat game.  One of his favourite toys is a London tour bus he got a few months ago.  Of course, his word for bus is ‘Mimi car’, which has no relation to the English word or the Portuguese ‘omnibus‘.  One day he was messing around with one of his toys and putting it on the bus and saying ‘Mimi car,’ so to annoy him I said ‘on the bus.’  He repeated ‘Mimi car’ and I insisted it was ‘on the bus.’

He quickly realised that whatever way he said ‘Mimi car’ I would copy him.  If he shouted it, I shouted back.  If he whispered, so would I.  If he said it very very slowly I tried to mimic him.  He thought this was the greatest trick ever.  The next stage was to get him to copy me, which didn’t take too long at all.

I didn’t do this in order to correct him.  I reckon he’ll figure out in his own sweet time what the ‘real’ words for a bus are.  It was just something to pass a few minutes and interact with him.  We end up doing it now at least once a day.  I was doubly fortunate because the English sentence ‘on the bus’ sounds suspiciously like the Portuguese word ‘omnibus’ so even my wife can join in this game without Mr. T. realising it is slightly different.


Every kid learns to say ‘No’ pretty early on, possibly because, at least in Mr. T’s case because that is probably the word he hears the most.  One of his favourite games has always been to play with his cars on the coffee table and to roll them across and let them fall on the floor.  As they were rolling I used to shout ‘No!’ in an overly dramatic way before they hit the floor.  Mr. T has now taken to holding a car on the table and imitating my plaintive cry of ‘No!’ and then  squealing with delight as it crashes into the ground.  He has even started to build the tension by saying ‘no’ a number of times, each time building up the volume and pitch until the car eventually rolls over the side.

It’s a bit like watching this:


Abou is Mr. T’s word for acabou, which is Portuguese for ‘finished’.  His favourite practical joke is to have a cup of water or juice which is obviously half full and then shout ‘Daddy, abou’.  I look at him and ask him ‘Is it finished?’ at which point he looks at the cup, looks at me and says ‘Nooooo!’  Once he has finished giggling to himself he then puts the drink back in his mouth.  If he is in the mood this can go on for ages.


A note on the image used above.  I have tried to find who produced the photo but so far I have been unsuccessful  If you created it, please let me know and I will be only too happy to add a credit.


12 thoughts on “Playing With Language

  1. Your game on the bus sounds like fun and Lorna uses a similar game with her children only it is a more physical game eg they put their hands on their head, so Lorna would put her hands on her head, a bit like Simon says I suppose. Zoe still loves to play this game.

    I think your name of Mr T is going to stick and not only on your blog! Somehow it just seems to suit him.

    • He stil hasn’t figured out the the physical version that Lorna plays. I’m not sure if this means anything.

      When he woke up this morning at 1am, 3am and then finally for good at 6am I had some quite different names for him.

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Recently I’ve been enjoying reading different things you’ve written about you, Thomas & language learning. Very inspiring for me as the father of an almost 2-year-old girl, Joana.

    I just read your post after watching a video about Rudolf Steiner’s work & it strikes me how we’re doing something he proposed: namely, to learn from & not just try & teach our children.

    What are you & your wife’s plans for Thomas’ schooling in Curitiba?



    • Hi Robin,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.

      I suppose that because both of us have a background in education and ELT we are both aware that the good teacher learns as much as he teaches. I find it difficult, though, to see how you could bring up a child and fail to learn every day of the week.

      At the moment Mr. T goes to daycare in the afternoons. We have our eye on a school for when he is a bit older, but nothing has been finalised yet. This might be the topic of a post soon.

      Did you watch the video online? If you have the link I would love to see it.

      Speak soon,

  3. Pingback: Testing your baby’s language progress through play | Trilingual Mama

  4. Pingback: Testing your baby's language progress through play - Trilingual Mama

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