Friday, September 21, 2007

Emma and German

How does a 2 year old, just learning to speak deal with two languages (being raised as a bilingual child). Amazingly well, as do all of our children. I smile everytime I hear my older children rattle off long explanations of complicated things in German (their 2nd language). It's amazing.

But with Emma, I just have to laugh out loud.

Emma is just learning to speak at 2 years of age. This naturally comes by leaps and bounds. One day she is saying 2 word sentences and then a day later I hear 5-6 word sentences. She speaks primarily English. She lived in the United States until she was 16 months, and her older brother and sisters generally speak English. Mom is the designated English speaker in our home.

The hilarious thing with Emma occurs when mom happens to say a German word. This has happened a couple of times, but the funiest occasion occurred when Hannah's friend was over to play. Hannah's friend and Emma were talking about a dog for some reason and Tamara overheard Emma say "Hund" to the little girl. So, Tamara joined in and said "Ja ein Hund." (yes a dog).

Emma turned to Tamara and said, quite emphatically I must add, "Nooooo!!! ...... Dog!" Remember that Emma had just spoke to Hannah's friend and said "Hund." But all attempts by Tamara to say Hund were met with this same resistance.

She commonly does the same with the siblings when they speak German, but not as emphatically. With me she allows me to say the German word, but only if she knows the German word. At least I think that is the pattern. I will usually translate the word from English (the word she keeps insisting that I say in English) to German and then use the German word from that time forward. And she seems fine with that. Take for example the word "Horse", an animal we don't see everyday, but that we recently read in a book. After I said "Pferd", Emma began insisting that I say Horse. I responded in the following manner:

Emma, Horse hei├čt Pferd auf Deutsch (Emma, Pferd means Horse in German).

After I say this she stops insisting that I say "Horse" and I can use the German word "Pferd" from then on. Also amazing is that she generally remembers the german word days and weeks later. It's rather phoenomenal really, and a joy to watch.

1 comment:

Coleen said...

lol that's hilarious!! It sounds like she's doing really well!!

I can't wait to see you guys in just *2* months!!!

March 2007