Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bi-lingual Kids on the Block

A Pinay married to a non-Pinoy. Speaking a mix of Tagalog, Deutsch and English in the house. Having spent some time in Thailand, thus, speaks enough Pasa Thai.

Now we have two kids. How difficult it would be to choose from so many languages then? Very! Our first born started speaking when she was more than a year old. A few spatter of baby words. Then she simply stopped. She started using more mimics, body languages and grunts!

It was a bit of a shock for us when we finally realized it, which took time, too. But reading through websites, we didnt worry too much. Her pedia also said it is a natural condition for toddlers who hear different languages spoken in their household. Because they are taking time to learn and to assimilate and then decide which language to use.

It was on our way to Asia, she was almost two years old then, when she decided to really talk. A Thai airways flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok. The flight took almost 14 hours then. When the plane was taxing the runway, ready for take off - she simply said 'hell' (light) and dark. Two words from two different languages at the same time.

We proceeded to play tourist in Bangkok for a few days then. I used the Pasa Thai to most of the people during that visit, she picked up some, too. The end of our Asian destination is Manila. Tagalog words came easily to her. Her words became a mish mash of Thai, English and Deutsch.

Back in Germany. Her oma, to cope up with this, had to learn a spatter of these languages. Which was funny because as she always told us, 'I used to teach kindergarten in the border near France. And I never was interested in learning the French language.' And now, you can ask oma what bola-bola means!

My eldest daughter is now five years old. She finally chose Deutsch. English is something she is comfortable using at home. Just too shy to do it in front of other people. The need to belong. Peer pressure maybe. I am happy that she knows enough Tagalog words. Enough to hold her end of the conversation with her Pinoy cousins.

My youngest daughter grasped words faster. She was babbling baby words when she was a year old. Her first words were: ball and baby. We can neither confirm if this is English or Deutsch because both words are the same in both language. Only the accent varies. When she was 18 months old, had more words than we can really comprehend! For example, kakay which means carry! I guess, it helped a lot that her older sister was like a live wire this time. She simply repeated everything that she heard.

And like her sister, speaks English and Deutsch. She is not yet shy to converse in both languages, anywhere. Her Tagalog words are increasing as she still listens enthusiastically whenever I read to her in Tagalog. For her sister, Tagalog books are already boring.

Anyway, both of them are in kindergarten. The youngest is used to calling her sister 'Ate'. I already told the teachers in kindergarten to anticipate this word. And what it means. The result? Most of the children in kindergarten are now calling my eldest daughter, 'Ate.'


Christianne said...

Ang galing! I guess it does help the younger sibling na naririnig niyang nagdadaldal si Ate buong araw.

What Tagalog books do you read to your daughter?

raqgold said...

i have books from lampara, adarna, anvil and phil children's televion foundation -- lahat galing pinas. give me time and i'll blog more on them... all of them have english translations. titles such as juan tamad, nagsasabi na si patpat, mariang marungis..etc see the pictures on 'get caught reading'