Sunday, October 12, 2008

Language acquisition

How do you tell your three-year-old is picking up some foreign language skills? Oh, he'll tell you.

Kitty Bill threw a wild tantrum out in a public park the other day. He's been amping up the tantrums over the last few months, so that wasn't news-- he's been seriously displaced by this move. What struck me is that he chose to throw this tantrum in German.

It was time to leave, and he plainly didn't want to go. So he threw himself down on the ground and screamed at us with all his might, "NEIN! NEIIIIIN! NEIN, BITTE! BITTE, NEIIIN!"

After I stopped laughing (I know, but it was too cute) I scooted down on the ground next to him and asked him what he was so upset about. Did he even know what he was saying? He said, "No, please, I don't want to go."


We're currently living above a restaurant staffed by a large Italian family, or several small families, it's hard to tell. They have convinced Kitty Bill that his name is Mimi, because that's what they squeal to him whenever they see him. "Mimi, mimi." And he says it right back to them, and they do this touchy, touchy thing and give him a fresh bread roll. Every time, sometimes several times a day. The kid is up to his ears in bread rolls. And then when they part he says "Ciao, bello" right back to them.


Tonight he asked me to read a board book in German, that was actually IN German, then he moved on to our worn copy of Maisy Drives the Bus, in English, which he wanted read in German. "You read it to me," I said.

"Maisy drives the bus, German. Schlack and kluck and nacknock bus German." It's definitely weird. He sort of spits when he says it, so he has the basic idea.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:53 AM

    I find the whole immersion language learning by children, who do it so effortlessly and seemingly miraculously, utterly cool! I'll bet he really was too darned cute when he was pitching his Swiss German fit. ;)


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