Saturday, 28 November 2009

Out of the mouth of Cubling

Cubling loves the moon. She's particularly fascinated by it appearing, disappearing and appearing yet again. "Another moon!" She shouts. "Noch ein Mond!" she adds in German (always as a postscript). "Das ist der gleiche Mond, nicht ein anderer, es gibt nur einen Mond, es ist immer der gleiche!" I insist (that's the same moon, not another one, there's only one, always the same).

Her response today: "Look! A gleiche Mond! Oh, noch ein gleiche Mond!"

The moon is now called "gleiche Mond" (same moon).

The other day, as she was emptying a box of toys (as she does, she still loves just emptying them, rather than actually taking individual toys out to play), Mr Cartside asked her:"Why are you taking all the toys out of the box?" "I don't know" she wonders. "Maybe it's me?"
It's her new catch phrase.

Interestingly, she can now form full sentences in English, and is adding new words every day. When she speaks "German" though (and I use quotation marks because she never speaks a full sentence exclusively in German, so it's not proper German yet), her language development is still at the 2 word stage. She has a good range of German vocabulary and can say long words, however, spontaneously she will only say German nouns, some German verbs, and very few adjectives. So, her German sentences are a mishmash really: "This Essen is very heiss! (this food is very hot) is a typical, if made up, example. Her language awareness is amazing, she will go through lengths explaining that daddy says "digger" while mummy says "Bagger" and she switches language when requested, and will also "translate" a sentences for her daddy. She uses German for speaking German and English for speaking English. Sometimes, she is clear she does not want to speak German. Her default is English and it takes her some effort and thinking to utter German sentences. Mostly, she doesn't mind me insisting on German, so there's definitely no real reluctance. Just a preference for the stronger language, a bit like my own preference to use English in writing because I'm so much more used to it and it flows more quickly.

All in all I still feel that her active language is a bit lagging for her age, while she does tick all the minimum milestones for 3 year olds (and she's only 32 months of course) - that means she's doing fine and not lagging behind significantly and bilingualism hasn't held her back in any significant way.

The funniest thing ever though is that her cousin has now started spontaneously saying full sentences in German. I'm close to dispair. Here I am, trying my utmost to support Cubling's development of the minority language, and who is the first to talk back in full German sentences? Her cousin who I don't even try to pass German onto. It's not fair, is it?


Anonymous said...

I don't think there are any rules here! Little elf is way behind where her big brother was at her age and she's only dealing with one language! And then there's the gulf between what they understand and what they say.

It must be quite marvellous to watch her picking her way between two such different languages and asociated ways of thinking the world...

MrsW said...

I've known a couple of bilingual kids that are now grown ups and not one of them managed to "keep it up". It must require more effort than I thought! Having tried studying German for a couple of years at school I'm convinced it's a language you need to live to learn - it was way too difficult for me to get my head round. I think evidence does suggest that bilingual children display delayed speech but only briefly and certainly the benefits far outweigh any tiny statistical negative point - and by benefits I don't mean having people like me asking 7 year olds to "ooh go say that in Portuguese!" tho that was fun for me :)



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