Friday, December 30, 2022

Japanese Practice Baby Activities

I mentioned in my 6 months developmental update that I've been practicing Japanese with interactive play activities with my child. I figured I should go into more detail in a separate post about this.

In general, the basic idea is to pick a phrase or sentence, or a few linked phrases, and repeat them over and over with slight variation while acting out the appropriate context in play. Currently, since my child is only 7 months old, I'm not really expecting her to respond verbally, but I do try to make sure she's paying attention, and sometimes I manage to get nonverbal participation. But let's go into more detail with the specific phrases I've modeled so far.

  • _ はどこですか?ここです!(_wa doko desuka? koko desu!) Ask where toys are, then find them, or play peek-a-boo and ask where you or your child is. Remember that ここ is only appropriate for things that are pretty close to both you and your child, but I find it hard to get joint attention for faraway objects at this age anyway. Also, make sure you know the names of the targets you'll be looking for, so you won't have to look them up mid-play.
  • _ をください。ありがとう。(_ o kudasai. Arigatou.) Ask for objects near your child or in their hands, take them, thank your child, wait a few moments and hand them back. This one seems to have sparked a game that my child loves where she offers me things, I thank her for them, and I give them back. She initiates this now, and we've ended up doing it in several different languages depending on my mood when she starts it. Some of the later language stimulation activities in this list also build upon this game.
  • わたしは_です。よろしくおねがいします。(watashi wa _ desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.) Have your child's toys introduce themselves to each other or to you or your child, and model よろしくおねがします as a response. This one I used stuffed animal toys for, and practiced the names of different kinds of animals.
  • _がすきです。/_がすき。(_ga suki desu./_ga suki.) versus _がすきじゃない。/_がすきじぁありません。(_ga suki janai./ga suki jaarimasen.) Model saying that you like or dislike things, or that a character you're speaking for likes or dislikes things. Around this time, my baby got a toy box with several different modes, her favorite one being a carrot patch thing with removable carrots, so I offered carrots to various stuffed animal toys and answered based on whether or not I figured that species would be interested in eating a carrot (for example, her mommy/baby sharks did not want the carrots!).
  • なんびきのくまがいますか? (nanbiki no kuma ga imasu ka?) Model counting and asking how many there are of something that the 匹 (ひき ) counter is appropriate for counting - in my case, little crocheted bears that like to climb in and out of a Fisher Price bus. For more information on Japanese counters, check out this website. I started with 匹 because it uses kango counting, which I'm more familiar with.
  • ほんはいくつがありますか?(hon wa ikuga arimasuka?) Model counting and asking how many books there are, keeping in mind that books have a unique counter 冊 (さつ) only used for them. My baby has lots of books!
  • つみきはいくつありますか?(tsumiki wa ikutsu arimasuka?) Model counting and asking how many there are of something that can be counted using the つ counter, like blocks. This let me practice wago counting, which I'm less familiar with.
  • _つのカプがあります。_つのボルがあります。(_tsu no kapu ga arimasu. _tsu no boru ga arimasu.) Count other objects with the つ counter, and model one-to-one correspondence by counting multiple objects in the same amounts. I used cups and balls I made with this pattern, except that I made them in the aromantic pride flag colors. I needed more practice with wago counting, and one-on-one correspondence is an important counting-related skill, so I figured I'd model it a bit too.
  • (Body part)はどこですか?(_wa doko desuka?) Ask where body parts are, then name them and point them out. Basically a repeat of the first activity, but I wanted to practice body parts this time since I'd been pointing out toys the previous time.
  • どこからきましたか?_からきました。(doko kara kimashita ka? _kara kimashita.) Ask stuffed animals where they're from, answer with a country or habitat that has that kind of animal in the wild. (ケニア、カナダ、イギリス、うみ、etc)
  • これはいくらですか?_コインが かります。(kore wa ikura desuka? _koin ga karimasu.) Ask what things cost, answer with a coin amount and count it out with toy coins. I did this with the coin slot version of the above-mentioned toy box, and combined it with object permanence practice by putting the coins through the slot. Meanwhile, she revealed that she knows how to get the removable top off of the box and retrieved the coins several times.
  • はじめまして。わたしは_です。どうぞよろしく。(hajimemashite. watashi wa _desu. Douzoyoroshiku.) Have various toys introduce themselves. (In place of names you can use nouns like ねこ、うさぎ、etc.) 
  • _がほしい。(ga hoshii.) Say you want something and then take it, and then offer it back to the baby. You can also thank them (ありがとう) after you take the toy. This was an extension of the give & take game that she's taken a liking to.
  • (Name), _, どうぞ。あ, _, ありがとう。(name, _, douzo. A, _, arigatou.) Offer something to the baby while saying baby's name, the name of the object, and then どうぞ。If they offer it back, or let you take it, name the object again and thank them for it. Another give & take game.
  • おはよう、こんにちは、こんばんは。(ohayou, konnichiwa, konbanwa.) Use time-appropriate greetings throughout the day.
  • おはよう vs おはようございます。ありがとう vs ありがとうございます。(ohayou vs ohayou gozaimasu. Arigatou vs arigatou gozaimasu.) Model two levels of politeness by using or not using ございます. For example, if you have baby/adult pairs of toy animals, have the babies refer to adults more politely than to age peers, while adults are informal in return. I have a set of mommy & baby shark and mommy & baby whale, so that's who I used for this.
  • これは _ です。_ です。(kore wa _ desu. _ desu.) Name an object and then use an adjective to describe it further. For example これはにんじんです。オランジです。(korewa ninjin desu. Oranji desu.) or これはさめです。ちいさいです。(korewa samedesu. Chiisai desu.) I used this one to practice colors and basic adjectives.
  • これはいしゃですか?(kore wa isha desuka?) Using toys dressed in outfits associated with jobs, ask and answer what professions they have. I used Fisher Price people for this, if you have any set of toys depicting various professions, you can do it with them. Or get creative if you don't.
  • _ どうですか?(dou desuka?) This phrase can have multiple uses, but in this activity I use it to offer objects for my child to play with, for yet another iteration of the give & take game.
  • _ じゃないです。_ です。(_janai desu.) Say what things aren't and then say what they are.
  • _ がおちた!(_ga ochita!) Drop things while saying that they fell. The inspiration for this one came from when I was doing the previous activity with her barn Fisher Price set and dropped the farmer off the upper level of the barn. I looked up how to say that something fell, and then decided to make it the next Japanese practice activity.
  • _の_ Describe things that belong to other things, such as body parts. I started by saying various farm animals in the Fisher Price farm all belonged to the farmer, but she lost interest. After some milk and a diaper change, I resumed the activity by pointing out that her body parts belong to her.
I don't know how much impact this is having on her language development, but I know it's definitely been helping me practice my Japanese. And earlier today I caught her responding in Japanese-sounding babbles to me practicing with a Japanese learning app, which I take as a very good sign!

Labels: ,