Wednesday, March 21, 2007


When Kezia was born. I decided to speak to her directly only in English, although obviously the language of the house is Nanda and Jaime's national language. Obviously, our aim is for her to grow up bilingual.

Jaime's exposure and repertory, soon after I had first met him and Nanda, was limited to "fuck ... off, you, this, or the other " which he used (and I use quite liberally in the broadest sense of the word - I am not a linguistic conservative) ... but thank you're deity he has now forgotten his first lesson in Anglo-Saxon.

But he has probably relearned ... my experience is that kids learn "bad" language but also learn where it is appropriate i.e. not in front of adults (teachers and parents) but ok in the playground and street.

Anyway, when all this shit happened in May of last year, Kezia was beginning to produce her first language and passively understand quite a lot of my English. Now I speak to her on the telephone in her first language - only fair as she does not have all the para-linguistic tools (facial expressions, gestures etc) to help her understand. However, I'm not too worried as she will be starting playgroup in September and I guess my brother's family, the nursing staff at the hospital etc are speaking English to her.

I am now more concerned with Jaime. He is doing very well with his second language, English, because of his exposure at school. His teacher seems very happy with his progress.

However, he is no longer learning literacy skills in his own language. When he comes back here, this could be a problem. I phoned A. last night who spent several years in Germany with her younger son when he was in his formative years and she confirmed the problem. On their return she had to arrange home-tutoring to bring him up to speed.

As A. works in education and as I'm doing some English proof-reading for her right now, I've asked for "payment" of two years of first-language primary school textbooks to take with me in April.

Not sure how Nanda will cope with the role of teacher or if we can arrange someone else. Of course, I will be bringing this up with the school and our social/healthworkers but I'm sure there will be severe limitations to how they can help.

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