Frogs, Crows, Sheep and Language Development

“What does the cow say?” 

“Moo.”

 “That is right!  What does the sheep say?” 

“Baa.”

 “You are right again!  And how about the frog, what does the frog say?”  

“Kva!” 

“Oh, no baby, the frog says ‘Ribbit, ribbit.’”

 “KVA, KVAAA!”  insisted my little one with a hint of offense in her voice.  That was the debate I came to witness when picking up my toddler, Anna, from Nana’s house.  

“Oh sweetie, both you and Nana are right,” I exclaimed as I rushed to the rescue.  “You see, American frogs do indeed say ‘Ribbit ribbit.’  And you did not make a mistake.”  This, I assured her since Russian frogs do, undeniably, say “Kva Kva,” which Anna repeated, as if settling the matter with Nana.

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Later, we had a great deal of fun with my multilingual family, comparing animal sounds in different languages. 

My father-in-law is from Lebanon, my mother-in-law descended from Polish immigrants, and I am Russian. 

Our family, being so culturally and linguistically diverse, sure has lots of benefits, yet at times it can be a little too much to process for a toddler’s mind. 

In order to avoid future misunderstandings, I had to resolve the linguistic and phonetic dispute about animals from various regions of the world once and for all. 

Naturally, it must be done in a fun and creative way, so that all parties would accept this new multicultural “animal sound” language as quickly as possible.

What was my method?  You guessed it!  Music was my savior once again! 

Luckily, at Kindermusik, we had just finished the “Cock-a-doodle-MOO!” unit, which is all about farm animals and their sounds. 

Inspired, I organized a game where I played the “On the Farm” track from our home kit CD, and asked the adults to make animal sounds in their own language. 

This fun and beautiful track overlays real animal sounds with complementary music.  Did I mention it is also Anna’s favorite? 

It was a true pleasure watching Anna light up when it was a time for the grownups to play their silly roles! 

The first few times we had Anna dance and listen with us.  Later, I asked her to repeat an animal sound to a person of her choice in their language. 

In other words, to her American daddy she said “Ribbit, ribbit,” and to me she said “KVA.” 

By the end of the routine, Anna was nearly fluent in both English and Russian “Baas!” and “Moos!” 

While there is still some room for improvement in Anna’s Arabic and Polish, I am ecstatic about the results! 

Most importantly, we all enjoyed our musical time together; those moments will forever be cherished. 

The renowned American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famously declared, "Music is the universal language of mankind." 

Being a music enthusiast, I have always adhered to that idea, and I am pleased to have Kindermusik International as my comrade!

Written By Dorina Nikolaeva, Kindermusik Mom and Thriving Kindermusik Teacher, who is a master at making animal sounds from around the world. 

To learn how KIndermusik can help your child express their favorite animal sounds through movement and sound, join us at Thrive Arts Center today: