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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

English and the YO

The struggle to turn the YO bilingual continues.

While the EO picked up English simultaneously with Bangla, thanks to me being the primary care-giver (oooh! that's a big, scary, professional-sounding word!!), the YO did not get the benefit of me and my education as I was too busy ferrying the EO all over Kolkata thanks to school, extra-classes and his very busy social life. The YO, therefore, spent a lot of time and still does, truthfully speaking :( , with the ayah. So it comes as no surprise that his vernacular is much stronger than his foreign language speaking skills.

It's been close to a year since he started school and he's finally turning bilingual...except not in the language that I thought! Thanks to 15 of the 17 kids in his class coming from Hindi speaking homes, the YO is bombarded with the language. Add to that, there are story-telling sessions in Hindi in the school, owing to the fact that 96% of the students will eventually choose Hindi as their Second Language when they to to Big School -- so it's considered good practice for them from now. It's no wonder that he can recite "Machchli Jal Ki Rani" with more ease than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

So you will understand why I nearly fell off my chair today, when my little one approached, me holding out his car on the palm of his hand, and said, "Hejj cawrring you." (He's calling you.)

After I lifted my jaw off the floor, I asked him, "He's calling me? Why?"

Nodding his up and down in a perfect imitation of his idol, Noddy, he very seriously said, "He want chokeett."

Aaahhh! The cheeky little imp! But I had to celebrate our longest English conversation till date and so I pulled out an Alpenleibe from my purse, slowly. On seeing the familiar wrapping, my YO's English flew out the window and he looked at me with eyes as round as Ben10 watches dials and said, "Tumi aamaar jonno rorripop enechcho?" (You got me a lollipop?)

Ah well, tis a good start. And while I won't be reading out Shakespeare to him just yet, I'm thinking Lewis Carrol? No? *Sigh* Guess I'll just continue with Mother Goose.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha Shakespeare can wait :) But it's great that he will be proficient in three languages eventually :) I read somewhere kids can pick upto five languages in their first five years!!!

The Ketchup Girl said...

don't u fret about languages. My daughter only knew bangla when we moved to Sydney. She infact could also dish out lovely sentences in oriya. And then Sydeny happened and the Aussie air corrupted her ability to speak in two regional languages. She now speaks english in that awful aussie accent. But in a rather cute way- 'like Mum can i have more chicki Bhaatu phlease?' and oh mum, not that Ghumu jama, i's like to wear the Minnie one'. But its totally adorable that your YO says 'r' to 'l'. Shweeet.

Monika,Ansh said...

Nothing to worry there M4. Ansh says "mujhe sharam aati hai" in speaking English at home but his teacher tells me that he has picked it up pretty well at school.
YO sounds so adoarble.

Passionate Goof said...

I know what you feel. The DH and I having varied mother tongues, the BB is missing out on those. I really want him to pick up both Hindi and English atleast.

Mama - Mia said...

oh well! even cubby is more comfy with Hindi tho i keep hearing a l'il english sentence dropped here and there thanks to the school.

frankly i am not worried tho his teacher said he should be comfy in english, i think its a ridiculous expectation to have from 2yo! english se bachke kahan jaayega?! :)



Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

@IHM: So you think I should start with French? :)

@KG: I was born in the States, lived there for ten years, but I was fluent in Bangla thanks to my parents. Of course I spoke it very USA-like 'n all, but I spoke it. Speak to your little one and she'll always have it with her. As for the YO and English, I'm not worried, re. He understands it really well, just shies away from speaking it...but that seems to have changed in the past few days :)

@Mon,Ansh: Not worried sweetie. Was just waiting for the conversations to start...they sound so adorable!

@PG: I so understand! The DH and you should definitely start speaking to each other in Hindi and to him as well. He'll pick it up in no time!

@Namesake: Like I said before, am not worried at all. I recorded this conversation more for the car wanting chockeet, rather than anything else :)

WhatsInAName said...

haha a very cute conversation and heres wishing the YO many more Alpenlibes ;-)

dipali said...

Olebaba!This is so sweet!

noon said...

Man, I wish I had this problem! :) Here it is a struggle to make sure they retain the Tamil. Once they cross KG into 1stgrade with their native language intact, then there is hope. But kids here loose it once they go to KG. Am praying KB retains his Tamil. I wish I could teach him Hindi too. English - am sure even if you didn't want it he will get good at it once he is in full time school. It is the Hindi and Bangla that you have to worry about!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

@WIAN: He get plenty of those, believe me!

@Dipali: Thank you!

@noon: Don't stop speaking to them in Tamil...ever! Even if they stop answering back, at least they'll know the language. The biggest mistake friends of my parents made is that they started speaking to their kids in English when they abandoned Bangla once they were in school. Now they rue the fact that their children don't even understand the mother-tongue.
And look at the Hispanic community there -- they are very bilingual and I admire them for it.
My sons can't escape Bangla, it's their 2nd language in school. As for Hindi, all their friends speak it, so they are learning that language as well.
Good luck babe. I think you're doing just great!