Google+ Authentic Parenting: Adding Another Language to the Mix

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adding Another Language to the Mix

We recently moved to Liberia with our two children. My daughter - now a little over 4 - has been raised bilingually French/Dutch and had picked up a couple of words and catch phrases in Lingala when we were living in Congo, out of sheer necessity.
Now, we came to a primarily English speaking nation, a language which my daughter had been in contact with only by watching DVD’s in their original language. I had the feeling she understood some English already, and she did grasp a couple of words like “dog”, “bunny”, “one, two, three”, but her grasp of English ended there.

It has been amazing to see her evolve - linguistically. We had thought it would take a while before she would want to communicate, maybe immersing herself first, in order to unravel words out of sentences, but quite on the contrary, from day one, she came to ask us for help to communicate with the staff. She’d say: “I want Peter (the gardener) to move the table”, and I would give her a phrase to reproduce.

We’ve been here for a month now, and I hear that she is really trying to incorporate as many English words she can. She still mainly babbles in French to our personnel, but she’ll add the words she knows to the mix.
Amazingly, she must also really listen when we speak, because I hear her adding words and phrases I didn’t spoon feed her.

She’s also teaching the staff French and Dutch, as she’ll translate words in several languages for them to understand her. I’m so excited to see her language evolve and wonder what will be the end product, as she learns from people with very distinct accents, vocabulary and use of grammar (Dutch, Indian, South African and Liberian). Quite funny to hear this small white child say: “Gie ma brotha”.



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