Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Going quattrolingual...?!

Kaya, one of the bilingual kids I lived with, aged 2 -
"reading" the english dictionary!
Yesterday, I spent the morning on my "40 bags in 40 days" mission (more on that tomorrow!) and literally ransacked my larder. I took EVERYTHING out, cleaned it out, got rid of old packaging, put half full bags of flour and rice and pasta into my canisters, stacked my tins, recycled a tonne of cardboard and found lots of things I thought I'd lost!

While all this was going on, I had one of those "bad mother" moments... I plonked my six month old in front of the TV and put on "Aristocats."

Ava was merrily jabbering away to the television, and suddenly, with my arms full of canisters and a cloud of flour dust emerging from the bag I'd just emptied I heard...


Huh??? I swivelled round, and realised poor Ava had just watched 15 minutes of "Aristocats" in Italian. Poor child... as if three languages aren't enough for her already!!

Her complete oblivion to the fact that she was watching it in another language (she IS only 6 months after all!) just embedded the fact for me that doing this trilingual thing is the right thing for us. For those of you who don't know, Ava is going to grow up with three languages. Dave speaks Norwegian with her, I speak German with her and everyone else speaks English.

We've had a lot of reactions to this - odd looks, curious questions and compliments too! Why on earth would we choose not to speak our mother tongue to our child?

I have had contact with a number of multilingual families over the past few years - I worked in a bilingual Kindergarten in Austria, lived with a bilingual family there, have come across numerous bilingual kids as a teacher, and am married to a bilingual kid myself (Dave was brought up with english/norwegian). I am utterly convinced that the best way to "learn" a language is not to learn it at all, but simply to be immersed in it. If we can give this gift to Ava, then what a blessing it will be for her. I have prayed and prayed about whether it was the right thing to do, and am convinced that this is what is right for us now... it definitely wouldn't be right for everyone, and I know some people find it a little odd, but I'm convinced that its working for us as a family now and feel real peace about it.

I hope that, one day, Ava will be able to use her languages for God's glory... but for now, she's just soaking it all in... and why not throw a little Italian in there as well...


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