How to teach Japanese to a baby

Q: I am new to your web site, but am already hooked. I am half Japanese but was never taught how to speak the language by my parents.  The little I do know I learned on my own.  Now that I have a baby, I want to learn so that I can start teaching him early.  Can you tell me some common phrases that I can say to my baby, like…

I love you. (I was told this wouldn’t be said to your child because it has a romantic connotation).

Are you hungry?

Good boy! (Would this be – ii ko desu ne!)

Give me a kiss!

Did you poo poo? or pee pee?  (haha! But seriously though…)

Why are you crying? or Don’t cry!

Finally, I’m thinking that the way the “ask a question” page is set up, you cannot see every post.  It seems the Similar Posts column changes randomly as you pick different ones.  Is this the way the page is designed or am I missing something here?  It would seem more user friendly if they can be all viewed on one page.

Thank you for what you do. Your site is awesome! – Miyuki

A: Hi Miyuki,

Thank you very much for getting in touch and it’s great that you want to teach Japanese to your baby!  Now normally I would just translate the phrases you’ve sent and write them up for you.  But ….. the thing with baby Japanese, and I guess it’s also the same in baby English, is that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  If you say it with a straight Japanese accent then it would just sound strange.  What you need is called “parentese” and for that you’d need actually recordings and/or videos.

So my number one, super top tip is …….  get some Japanese “Baby Sign Language” materials!  Baby Sign Language is a fantastic and super stress reducing thing to teach anyway (if you’ve ever wondered why your 1 year old is crying, they can actually tell you!)  but if you got some Japanese CDs/Videos etc. then you’d also learn the Japanese words as well.  I don’t have any specific materials to recommend, but the website http://www.babysigns.jp/ comes highly recommend!

As for the Learn Japanese FAQ page,  I’d love to put all of the questions on the front page, but I’ve answered hundreds and hundreds of them so they couldn’t possible all fit!  Probably the best thing is to hit up the search box in the top right of the site!

Hope that helps!

Be genki,

Richard

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