Monday, March 01, 2010

Selective receptivity

Most toddlers have phases where they filter out requests (did somebody ask me to go brush my teeth?) but we've noticed Emma is especially good at tuning out requests that aren't put to her in English - both in Kindergarden and at home. And it's not about her not understanding.
Although English is in fact the language she's been in contact with the least, she really has taken to it like a fish to water.

Perhaps it's because English was introduced to her at the right time (in terms of brain development etc.) or because it sounds softer than the German and French languages and because its structure is easier or perhaps because she associates it to Peppa Pig...

Maybe her selective receptivity is precisely due to it not being the "official" language at school or at home (like the fact that she will go get ready for school when the timer rings rather than when I ask her). Sort of like a neutral party.

I remember, as a much older expat child, taking quickly and passionately to a language that was neither my father's nor my mother's; French. It's perhaps another way of breaking free and affirming one's individuality.

Whatever the reason, it seems natural that her seemingly "favorite" language is the one she reacts to most positively. Luckily, both Steph and I understand and speak English sufficiently well to call upon it when a swift reaction on Emma's part is required.

Unfortunately, we have broken the (very difficult to stick to) rule of one language / one person since I have taken to responding to Emma in the language she is using at that particular moment (bar German of course!) occasionally filling in the missing word if she is mixing languages in the same sentence or giving her the equivalent in the language we have been speaking so that she can learn it.

I'm certainly not going to complain about her eagerness to learn but I hope we are not causing too much confusion.

N.B. I actually wrote this post on February 19th but somehow never got 'round to posting it.

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