i know what you mean!

english speaking kid

Posted on: September 3, 2011

right on cue, May starts speaking English after having Katie, Nathan, and Chau in our house for 1 week straight.  She clearly understands much more English than she has been letting on.  Previously, she might have understood the daily conversations Son and I carry on in English, but perhaps she didn’t really have an opinion on what was said, so she chose to pay attention to other things instead, like the pattern of paint on the wall for example.  Now, since she has an opinion on many things, she reacts to our conversations.

Me: Son, can you prepare her for bed tonight?
May: [in Vietnamese] I don’t want to go to bed!

Me: has she pooped today?
Son: no, not yet.
May: [in Vietnamese] I don’t want to go on the potty!

Maybe we’ll have to switch to French now.

Her English acquisition is quite a thing to behold. For one thing, it disproved some of my previous notions about children foreign language acquisition. I thought that adults make things hard for themselves because they try to translate literally from their native tongue into the 2nd tongue. Turns out, May does the same thing. For example, May would pin a bunch of toothpick animals onto the apple, and then says “Somebody’s on the apple!” The “somebody” here is the direct translation of the vietnamese “ai,” which is used in both the case of asking “who’s on the apple”(ai ở trên trái táo?) and also in the case of answering “everybody is on the apple!” (ai cũng ở trên trái táo hết – the exact thing she said in VNese to me) May’s understanding of “somebody” up to this point is that it means “who,” as in “is some body on the apple?” có ai trên trái táo không?

Another interesting thing is that she thinks about her words and then makes some choices rather than simply parroting. For example, she was jumping around today while saying to me “jumping on the house!” In Vietnamese, she meant “nhảy trong nhà,” and while she clearly knows that “in” means “trong,” she deliberately changed the preposition, because she also knows that in the past, she was always jumping “on” something – “jumping on the bed,” “jumping on the sofa,” “jumping on the table” (yes, I let her do that :-p ).

Anyway. So yeah, we have an English speaking kid. I show her that I understand her desire to practice her new found skills, so when she starts speaking English to me, I acknowledge and repeat what she tells me to make her feel more confident. I correct her pronunciation and grammar as necessary (believe it or not, she’s ready for such thing). But after I notice that she’s quite done with her practice session, I cut the English out completely and reiterate that we will use English when we are with non Vietnamese speakers, but we will always use Vietnamese to each other in the family. We’ll see how that works, heh.

5 Responses to "english speaking kid"

…meanwhile, K’s making tons of jargon utterances with Vietnamese intonations to me…

Tui cũng muốn dzậy á, nghĩa là with non Vietnamese speakers thì tụi tui nói tiếng HL.
Ra ngoài đường tui hỏi chuyện nó = tiếng HL, ở nhà tui nói chuyện với nó = tiếng Việt. Từ tuần trước nó mới phản ứng lại với tui khi tui hỏi nó tiếng HL, chứ trước đó tui nói cái gì với nó mà ko = tiếng Việt thì tui ko thấy nó phản hồi gì ráo ặkặk
Mà mẹ SM tiếng Anh thì hay rồi, tiếng HL của tui oải lắm nên tui cũng hơi ngại nếu tui nói với nó mà ko đúng, làm nó nói tiếng HL cũng ko đúng theo thì chết. Nhưng cũng ráng heheheh

ha ha, tui tha^’y pha’t a^m tie^’ng HL tui cu~ng re’t lol lol. Tui tha^’y con ni’t lu’c mo+’i no’i no’ no’i sai bu’a xua, nhu+ng ddi ho.c trong vo`ng 3 tha’ng la` chi?nh xong he^’t, tha`nh ra tui ghi~ ne^’u pha’t a^m 0 chua^?n thi` 0 lo, ta.i lu+.c ba^’t to`ng ta^m, nhu+ng ra’ng sao cho 0 no’i sai ngu+~ pha’p la` thu+o+.ng sa’ch 🙂

A` ma` funny la(‘m, S ma` no’i tie^’ng HL vo+’i con May thi` no’ ngo.ng luo^n, no’ ha’ ho^’c mo^`m 0 bie^’t ba(‘t dda^`u tu+` dda^u, nhu+ng bo^’ me. S ma` no’i tie^’ng HL la` con May la(.p la.i ddu+o+.c y chang, ha hahahaha, con tui thie^.t la` FOB

Đó là mẹ SM chỉ mới nghe tiếng HL của người Bỉ thôi đó nha, người HL nói nặng hơn chút nữa, hỏi S thử thì biết, tui chán muốn chết luôn à.

Mẹ SM nói chí lí, phát âm sai sau này đi học là ok. Thôi, vậy tui phải gồng mình mà nói tiếng HL với nó thôi hahahah

Con cu?a ba.n chi. bo^’ me. pha’t a^m chua^?n ma` ddi ho.c preschool ga(.p co^ A^’n ddo^. ve^` nha` no’ nha^’t ddi.nh ca~i la.i va `no’i ngo.ng theo co^ no’! DDu’ng la` bo’ tay luo^n! Tie^’ng Vie^.t cu?a MK thi` va^~n co`n mang a^m gio.ng mie^`n Trung.

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