Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bilingual Christmas Eve

Teaching Eve to speak a language which is different from the one that most people around her use is an exciting challenge. Everyone told me that bilingual children usually start speaking a lot later than those with only one language so I was quite surprised when Eve started jabbering away at a very early age. Even when she was tiny she used to love making our friends laugh by speaking Italian with an English accent or inventing strange verb forms that she knew were wrong just to see the reaction.
We don’t know many other English children so most of what she knows comes from me or DVDs or books that we read. She has phases of speaking like various characters and at the moment (Narnia phase) she says some really funny things:

‘Mummy, you brute! You’ll never get away with a mean trick like that!’
‘Ooooh, I’m really longing for the day when…when… I can have some Dora the Explorer biscuits!’

I was really proud the other day when she said, ‘Hey, I might’ve fallen over if you hadn’t been holding my hand.’
This probably won’t mean much to most of you but if you’re an English teacher you’ll know that it’s a very complex sentence. But a few minutes later when I told her to hurry up and brush her teeth as we were going to be late for school she said, ‘Yesterday I washed far too much with toothpaste my teeth.’


Yesterday I washed far too much with toothpaste my teeth!!!

Never mind. I’m sure no one else would have noticed… It’s what comes of having an English teaching mummy.

Singing Christmas carols the other evening in church I remembered how amazed I was when, as a child, I finally discovered that Holly Bears didn’t exist and that they weren’t berries either (Who can work that one out?) and that Ory and Tar weren’t mystical biblical lands. Made me think about how much stuff we say when we’re little that we don’t understand even if it is our own language.
Glad tidings we bring, to you and Jo King (as Eve used to sing)
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.