Posted by: trierbound | March 21, 2010

Leaps and Bounds in Language Acquisition

This entry is going to be mainly about my daughter’s language acquisition because, let’s be honest, her language acquisition process is far more interesting.

Her first German phrase was “Guck mal!” or “Look at this!” way back in October. In early December, upon being asked if she spoke German she pointed to herself and said “ich” or “I”. When pressed for more words, she simply shook her head. Since then she’s been steadily increasing her communication in German. Primarily, she speaks some hybrid form of German, English, English words pronounced in a way so as to sound German, and gibberish. She speaks this language, that is consistently increasing its use of German and English made to sound German, almost constantly when playing by herself or with dolls or ducks or whatever the toy of the moment is. She then started speaking it with me, and has been speaking with me more and more often in this hybrid language as she’s grown more and more comfortable with it. In fact, most days we switch back and forth between the two. I try not to start it, not wanting to push her too much, but once she starts speaking in German I’ll keep going, explaining where I need to, until she either ends the conversation or starts getting frustrated.

However, two very exciting things happened within a week of each other:
The first one is that my daughter started speaking to my friends in full German sentences. Granted, she only got out about two before switching back to her hybrid German/English, but it was still pretty exciting. We had all met up together at a bistro because my friends Yuri and Leah were leaving the next day, both on their way to Japan, directly and indirectly. We arrived first, only to be greeted shortly afterwards by four more friends. As they were sitting down, my daughter started speaking (over the greetings and talk of everyone sitting down and getting situated) in full out German. No one was really paying that much attention until Yuri looked up at me from across the table and said “Oh, sie spricht auf Deutsch!” or “Oh, she’s speaking in German!” Immediately, all eyes and ears were focused on the little one as she got out her two sentences in German… and then said a few more German phrases that didn’t really fit together and ended up in a German/English hybrid that I, at least, could understand.
The second exciting thing happened one day as I was picking her up from school. Several times as I’e gone to get her from school another child who is also being picked up has said “Oh she’s here…” and tells me where to find her. It’s quite helpful, actually. Well, one day we were walking down the stairs at the end of the day and the mother of another girl walked in. This is the mom I think I frightened in October by suddenly talking to her child, who I recognized, on the bus. I then, of course introduced myself and said that my daughter went to the same school. Anyway, the point is that she definitely was aware of the fact that we spoke English. Well, on this day my daughter called out to her and said “Lorriane ist in der Garten” –pretty easy, “Lorriane (the girl) is in the garden”. There was obvious shock on both her face and mine as she stuttered through an “Oh… thank you” and turned towards the garden.

On a lesser note, my google results for the past two weeks or so have been giving me the option to translate all of my search results into German. It’s amusing.

Tomorrow we are off to Munich to meet up with my mom and brothers. We’ll be touring Neuschwanstein, Munich, and Salzburg before coming up to Trier to see all the cool gladiator stuff and, of course, where I live. The last evening and night will be spent in Luxembourg, as our travelers have a very early flight to catch. I’ll try to post around the middle of the week about our adventures thus far. Also, I’ll be including a list of new habits I’ve acquired in Germany, since I’ve been wanting to do one of those for a long time.

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