Bilingual Kids and . . . Dogs?


Consider Nico-he is a bilingual dog-he understands and responds to both Russian and English because both languages are spoken at home.

Nico, the bilingual dog


Today it’s “Nico, idi suida, idyom gulyatz!” Tomorrow it might be, “come here Nico, let’s go for a walk!” Russian or English . . . either way, Nico knows we’re going for a walk.

How does one learn multiple languages? The younger you are, the easier it is to learn a new language. I came to the US when I was 7; I remember standing in the school yard at recess surrounded by kids who asked me one question after another. To all the questions, not knowing any other English words, I would randomly answer “yes” or “no.” They all laughed, “Ha! Ha! What a funny little girl!” But, within a few short weeks, I had no problems understanding and responding to any questions.

How do we learn a language? Babies listen carefully to what we say and somehow at around age 2, they suddenly start talking in sentences and sometimes in several languages (as long as they’ve been exposed). Is it because the younger you are the better your sense of hearing?-I’m sure that’s part of it.

But, there must be a lot more at play here. Consider Nico-is he my grandson? No! He’s my bilingual dog-he understands and responds to both Russian and English because we speak both languages at home. We got him as a puppy-but his special aptitude for Russian? I’ve always suspected that somewhere in his ancestry, there’s a Russian Wolfhound!


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