A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Language Issues

I have a pearl on a chain that I got when we were in China.  A few nights ago, Hannah was on my lap, when she asked, "Where did you get your necklace?"  My response was, "Where did I get this necklace?" knowing that she knew the answer already.  "From CHINA! When you got ME!" That's right.  She then asked Paul and I, "How did you guys get me?"

"We wanted another little girl in our family, and we saw your picture on Mommy's computer, and we asked China if we could be your family!  Then we did lots and lots of paperwork and China said yes, we could come get you.  So we flew alllll the way to China in a big feiji (plane) and got you!"

Simplistic, right?  Almost too simple, for your average, home-grown 5 year old.  But what I'm increasingly discovering is that Hannah's English has some Swiss cheese holes in it.  Here's a couple of examples.  This morning, she folded the kitchen towels on the couch in the play room.  She brought them to me, "Mommy!  I'm done folding!"  Awesome.  Without thinking about it, I said, "They go in the top drawer."  She takes off and disappears.  "Um, Hannah?  What did you do with the towels?"  Turns out, she put them back in the Secret Passageway, our term for the butler's pantry that runs between the kitchen and Paul's office.  There'a a nice counter in there, out of sight from the rest of the house, where I sort the clean laundry.  That's where the kitchen towels had come from before she folded them.

When I asked her where I told her to put them, she couldn't tell me.  I realized she had no idea what a drawer was.  "Hannah, what's a drawer?"  "Um, um, ummmm, um, I don't know."  Ah.  This also illustrates that she's good at "faking it" most of the time.  Between visual clues, like pointing, and context clues, she can usually guess what we want.  But she won't ask for clarification, ever.

Homeschool park day was at a park with a sand pit recently.  She can't get sand in the hinge of her prosthetic, so I wanted her to stay away from it.  I was about to tell her this, when I thought, "She'll say 'Yes Mommy!' and skip away, whether she understands me or not."  So I asked her, "Hey, Hannah, what's sand?"  Again, no idea.  Totally outside her sphere of reality.  (We've kept her away from sand at parks because of her prosthetic.)  So I had one of the big kids take her over and show her so she could understand.

I need to remember that 18 months ago she understood NO English, and she's doing WAY better than I would be, if I'd been left in China all this time, trying to speak Mandarin.

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