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How do I get my toddler to stop speaking like my Caribbean nanny?

We love her, but she speaks very poorly. things like "I didn't say nothing"-- and now our 3 year old speaks the same way from time to time. I'm curious if anyone else has encountered the same thing. thanks.

Tue. Apr 10, 8:01am

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Absolutely - toddlers are little sponges aren't they? My 3 yr old nephew has a Russian teach at his daycare. She speaks very correct english and now he often falls into her speach patterns. He also says "Yes" very correctly and completely (like she does) when all the other little ones I know usually say 'yeah' or 'yep' - that's the thing everyone notices and remarks on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 9:29 AM

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maybe you could buy her (or get from the library) some books on learning proper english / grammar? i'm sure it would benefit her immensely and it would help you, too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 9:41 AM

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Is this a serious question?

If it is, there is probably nothing you can do except get a new nanny, or stay home yourself. Toddlers are like sponges - they are absorbing and learning new things every second.

If she's with the nanny more than she is with you it is inevitable that she will learn more from the nanny, including speech habits.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 9:42 AM

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Yes, this is a serious question. My wife and I both work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 9:58 AM

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You probably want to have a discussion with your nanny about the problem you're seeing, but be careful as it is a sensitive subject. If she were doing something else you didn't approve of - i.e. smoking in front of the toddler, and then the toddler began imitating - it wouldn't be hard to say "please don't do that in front of the toddler, it's teaching him/her bad habits," but with something related to levels of education, such as speech patterns, it's more difficult. But in a sense, it's the same thing.

At the same time, when you hear your toddler say something improperly, be sure to correct him/her. If he says "I didn't do nothing," you say, "you mean, you didn't do anything." The child will eventually pick up on it. Additionally, s/he will be in school part- or full-time in not too long, and the teachers will correct him if he speaks improperly (this is something you can specifically ask the teachers to do as well), and he'll be around other kids speaking properly, so he'll learn what is proper then as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 10:10 AM

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there are tapes and cd's that help people who are learning english. you could have these in the house for your nanny and child to listen to as they are in the house. they would both learn something. it would also show your nanny that you value her and want to help her improve her communication skills. have you discussed the situation with your nanny? maybe she would have some input, too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 10:13 AM

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For what its worth, I studied Linguistics, and children will absorb EVERYTHING including accents and multiple languages with ease. If you and your husband speak to your child in proper English, you child will absorb the way you speak.

However, when correcting your child's language, MOST DEFINATELY be positive!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 10:18 AM

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It's a phase. I have a brother who married a woman from Poland and she worked very hard to learn english but their small children often started a sentence in one language and finished in another or would use polish adjective followed by an english noun, etc. It was cute, but they were very worried. Now the children are at the top of their class and the speak very little polish (which they are trying to teach again). They just heard it growing up and did the same thing Mommy did. Its just a stage and once they are out conversing with other children on a regular basis it will diappear- If not sooner.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 10:31 AM

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The accent will fall off once the child goes to school. I wouldn't worry about it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 3:10 PM

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I agree that correcting your child when she misspeaks is the best bet. Your nanny may be very insulted that you feel she doesnt speak well. Its hard sometimes to get through to small children whos minds are usually going a mile a minute... I've found the best way to get my kids to remember things is not only to say it to them, for example : "Its I didnt say anything, not I didnt say nothing". But rather to have them repeat it: " Its not I didnt say nothing, whats the right way to say it?"... If they have to think about it themselves, they'll start to pay closer attention.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 7:37 PM

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