Thursday, July 16, 2009

Multilinguality

Mommy is happy that Juan Or is showing signs of understanding several languages. Early this morning (yes, during the wee hours in the morning when Juan Or refused to go back to sleep!), Mommy showed Juan Or the alphabet board book. In the book, under the letter 'A' category, there were several objects that start with the letter 'A', one of it being 'apple'. So Mommy pointed to the 'apple', pronounced it and then asked Juan Or in Hainanese language to pronounce it as well. Juan Or immediately said 'apple' in a very babyish sort of voice, but the pronunciation was very clear. Oohhh...Mommy was thrilled to hear that because so far, Juan Or has never opened his mouth to repeat after Mommy whenever Mommy reads with him. Then Mommy asked Juan Or to say it again and he said,"Apple". Then Juan Or started walking around as part of his play routine. Sometime later, Mommy took the same book again, pointed at the apple again and asked,"Juan Or, what do you call this?" "Apple!," Juan Or replied and he continued walking around and playing. Then about an hour later, Mommy took the book again, pointed at the same apple picture and asked him in Hokkien,"Juan Or, che si keu ha mek? (what is this called?)" Juan Or replied,"Apple!" Woohoo....Mommy is thrilled to know that Juan Or understands Hokkien as well since that is the least spoken language to him!


In the house, the most spoken languages are English and Hainanese, second comes Cantonese because Grandma is Cantonese. In the babysitter's house, Cantonese is mainstream, followed by Thai language because the babysitter is a Thai lady married to a Malaysian Chinese man, but the babysitter is able to converse fluently in Cantonese. The babysitter told Mommy before that sometimes she scolded Juan Or in Thai language and he seems to understand. Mommy only speaks Hokkien with Juan Or when Mommy is having private time with him such as during his wakeful wee hours in the morning or when Mommy is scolding Juan Or.


Other words that Juan Or spoke before randomly were 'car', 'What's this?' and two other words that Mommy just can't recall at this point of writing (getting forgetful nowadays!). At the babysitter's house, when Juan Or refuses something, he'll say,"Moi" which means 'no' in Cantonese, but when in own house, he'll say,"Mai" which means 'no' in both Hainanese and Hokkien.

9 comments:

little prince's mummy said...

Wah! So geng!!! Know so many languages?!

mNhL said...

Sometimes I tried to speak Hokkien to YX but then automatically, I will speak in english and mandarin again. Still not used to it but hopefully YX can master hokkien dialect.

Alice Phua said...

Hehehe....but he has yet to say a substantial number of words for each language - just a little bit here and there.

Yes, now I remember....Juan Or also said the word 'towel' before. The other word I still can't remember.

Alice Law said...

Bringing up a multilingual kid is always one of my concerns.

I tried to stress Juan Juan with her mother tongue(Hainanese) and English...but unintentionally she picked up Cantonese, Mandarin and Hokkien. Moreover, her "silly" father keeps spooning her with German and Thai.

Here's an interesting site to share:
http://www.multilingualchildren.org/getting_started/pro_con.html

narelleserline said...

Not too much to absorb? Narelle will be exposed to English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Thai and Korean.

cheeyee said...

It's never too late to expose children with different languages. My Lynn was exposed to Mandarin since she was a baby, and she manage to catch up on English and Cantonese at age 2. As for the boy, we try to expose him to English language since he was born, and mix with Mandarin. Both kids pick up the Cantonese from my parents.

Cynthia said...

I need Hainanese tuition.. can ah? I can speak in other dialects but not my own.. what a shame!!! Juan Or, Aunty Cynthia salute you!

Alice Phua said...

To All, thanks for your comments. I agree it's never too early to expose them to multiple languages, in fact the earlier the better because that's the best time for them to pick new languages as if that's their mother tongue.

Aunty Cynthia, can, why not? Heheh...can earn money from giving Hainanese tuition! Hahaha....didn't know that Aunty Cynthia is 'kaki nang'!

Kev said...

Hi there, the first few months up till about a year, it is crucial to expose your child to various languages as they learn rapidly at this stage. With good diet, a child would develop well.

I've a niece who's seven years old, and she's highly bold, independent, intelligent and could speak two languages well while learning a third language.

say hi to your kid for me :)