Friday, 22 May 2009

I thought she was fluent...?

People sometimes aren´t sure what to expect from a 4-year-old bilingual, and sometimes think that they can get Laniña to "perform" her Spanish for them - with very mixed results. One friend recently exclaimed, "Oh, I thought she was fluent!" which at least gave us a chance to talk about it; I can only assume that many others are thinking inwardly how mad I must be to keep talking Spanish to a child who doesn´t seem to speak it!!

Thing is, as far as I can tell, she does speak it; she merely in many contexts chooses not to. Indeed, as a 4-year-old, I suspect that in many cases she´s only beginning to make any sort of conscious choice at all. She is aware now, and indeed proud (at the moment) that she has two languages, but in most instances her speech is fairly automatic and, in common with most young children she uses whole phrases and words which she nearly understands, often with comic effect!

So when someone suddenly demands that she speak in Spanish, I can almost see the wheels whirring in her mind: "D'uh, that´s stupid, you don´t speak Spanish!" Obviously she doesn´t really say or think that, it´s just what´s in my mind. What I think I mean is that Spanish for her is not really a performance thing, not like dancing or singing which one obviously does for an audience "Watch me, watch me!"

So when someone says "Speak some Spanish!" the natural reaction is simply, "Huh?"

Quite right, too! If our wider society could get out of its monolingual English-only mindset and the sheer amazement that some people actually do manage to speak other languages every day, the whole thing would seem a lot more normal!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Colorín colorado

Oh dear...

At the end of reading a Spanish fairy tale, one commonly says this:

Colorín colorado
Este cuento se ha acabado

It's just the ritual end, like we always say "...and they all lived happily ever after."
Colorín colorado, however, doesn't really mean anything sensible, and este cuento se ha acabado simply means "this story has finished".

This evening, though, my brain wasn't working too well and I finished with "este cuento ... um, ha terminado" It's another way to say it has finished.

Laniña looked at me with wide eyes, laughed and said "Noooooo!! ¡Se ha acabado!"

Great. Corrected by a four-year old! Well, she has heard the phrase about 600 times, so it's nice to know that at least it has sunk in!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Online Resources for Multilingual Families

I got a list of these on a leaflet; thanks SG!

http://www.biculturalfamily.org/magazine.html
http://www.bilingualfamilynewsletter.com/
http://www.wfbilingual.org.uk
http://www.multilingualmunchkins.com
http://www.multilingualchildren.org/

I haven't even managed to look at some of these yet, but I do know the multilingualmunchkins list is great; enjoy exploring them!

More about Laniña soon!
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