Two-Year-Old Bilingual

Now that Mr. T has turned two years old I thought it might be a good time to look at some of the language he has developed recently.


"Please, sir, I want some more." Fro...

‘Please sir, can I have some more/mais?’ (Wikipedia)

I am very relieved that he it still seems to be the case that he is acquiring language at roughly 50% English and 50% Portuguese, which means we must be doing something right.  While his vocabulary size in either language is smaller than that of his peers, if we take the two languages together I think he is about average.

It is becoming more common for him to string three or sometimes even four words together in a sentence.  However, he is much happier with just one or two-word utterances.  He has also taken to using ‘please‘ practically whenever he wants anything now so that it can sometimes be difficult not to give in to his demands.


We now have three words that Mr. T knows and uses in the two languages: ‘mommy’ and ‘mamãe‘, ‘bye bye’ and ‘tchau tchau‘, and ‘more’ and ‘mais‘.  I have a feeling that he uses ‘bye bye’ more with me and ‘tchau tchau‘ more with the other people around him, but not to the extent that I can definitely say he is aware of it.  His use of ‘more’ and ‘mais’ is still complex and he will often use them one after the other.


Ama: This is a corruption of ‘a man’ and is used to describe who is driving a bus or some other vehicle.  If you ask him ‘Who was driving the bus?’ he’ll sometimes say ‘Ama!’

Adah: He uses this to mean ‘yes’.  I think it is a corruption of the Portuguese ‘esta‘ which is the verb for ‘to be’.  In Brazil it used a lot when people agree with you or want to show they have understood.

A mão or Come on:  I am still not sure which of these he is saying.  If he wants you to follow him he walks up to you and reaches his hand out for you to hold it and then walk with him.  As he does this he either says ‘a mão’ (the hand) or ‘come on’ with a the first word unstressed.  Sometimes it sounds Portuguese and other times it sounds English.

Toy Story

Eeeooowww (Pete Zarria)

avão: This is a corruption of ‘avião‘, the Portuguese word for ‘plane’.

Bee:  This comes from the English word ‘big’.  I was quite chuffed when he came out with this as it is further evidence of difference concepts that he is learning.

Ninho: Portuguese has this (sometimes annoying) habit of adding a suffix ‘-ninho’ as a diminutive to practically any word at any time.  Mr. T has obviously noticed this because he uses it to mean ‘small’.  He started to use this word about two days after saying ‘bee’.


He now has names for everyone in the family on both sides.  He recently learnt the name of my wife’s cousin’s son (2 cousin?) who is a couple of years older than him.  Mr. T  proceeded to spend the rest of the day shouting for him at the top of his voice whenever they weren’t playing together.

Passive Vocabulary

It is rare nowadays that we say something to Mr. T and he doesn’t know what we are talking about.  This doesn’t mean that he knows the words, though, as it is very possible he is guessing meaning from context.  However, it is clear that e knows the names of lots of animals, food, drink and household objects because when we ask him to get them or point to them he doesn’t have any problems.

Body Language

It was this small (

It was this small (

Whenever he says the word ‘bee’ for big he holds either one or both hands up above his head to illustrate just how big it is.  And whenever he says ‘ninho’ for small he holds his index finger and thumb out in front of him with a small gap to show that he means it really is small.

He regularly taps himself on the chest when he wants to refer to himself.  He still hasn’t used his own name yet, or referred to himself in other way.

He has started to nod his head for ‘yes’ as well as say ‘adah’.

He puts his arms out to imitate a plane whenever he sees one go by or wants to play at planes.

He still runs his index finger around the palm on his other hand when he wants to watch TV.


He seems to be developing his own sense of humour.  I mentioned some of the games he likes to play with language in a previous post, but in the last week he has started to use these games with other people and not just me or his mother.

He loves doing simple  jigsaws, and even the more complicated ones that he can’t do are fascinating for him.  He has also learnt how to do jigsaws on his vovó’s i-Phone which I was surprised at because he needs to touch the piece, drag it without removing his finger from the screen and then drop it in the right place.


9 thoughts on “Two-Year-Old Bilingual

  1. My daughter just turned two, and I love, love, LOVE watching her acquire two languages simultaneously! She speaks noticeably less than her brother did at this age but is now putting two and three words together, occasionally more. Most of her words are in English, but she has a few in French.

    It sounds like your son is doing amazingly well!

    • It’s great to hear about other parents who bilingual children of the same age. Mr. T is doing well and taking it all in his stride at the moment. Since i wrote this piece last week he has picked up another couple of words, so I’ll write about that soon.

  2. I don’t have children yet, but my husband and I have every intention of raising our future children bilingual (English & Portuguese). Wonderful to read your positive observations.

    • Thanks for following. From what I have learnt so far there are two key ingredients to raising a bilingual child: a real and positive desire; a little bit of planning and preparation. When you get around to having a kid, let me know as have lots of things you can read.

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

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