Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breaking the Long Silence

Even though Tootle spoke Chinese at a preschool level when we met her, once Tootle learned enough English to communicate with us, she emphatically refused to speak Chinese. She wouldn't listen to my friends/neighbors who tried to speak to her in Chinese. Despite my efforts to assure her that it was OK, even desirable, to retain her Chinese, she seemed to need to let it go in order to feel secure/fit in with us. This made me sad, but I gently encouraged rather than pushed her, aware that her secure attachment to us was more important than retaining a language.

After picking up a friend at an after school Chinese class last year, Tootle expressed interest in the class, but it was far too late to join in. This year she is part of the class, and this week she had her first lesson. She was so excited to share the words for teacher, here, goodbye, etc. She seemed a bit surprised that I knew most of these words too, and I explained that I had taken classes before traveling to China to bring her and her sister home. (I'm not sure why she was surprised: she already knew that I could say hello, how are you, I love you, I am your mom/sister, little sister, big sister, numbers from 1-10, etc.) I can't wait until she is able to teach me some words that I don't know, and I know that her tones will be far superior to mine. This is a pretty basic class that only meets for one hour a week, but it is an important baby step for Tootle.


Beverly said...

how exciting. It was sad for me when G lost her tones. She and I read our number books and surprisingly she could speak the tones clearly but after a year longer being home she couldn't even do that. She wasn't speaking anything but Chinese baby babble when I traveled. I could pick up Ayi clearly in her cries. I am looking forward to G's interest in it too.

AZMom said...

That is way cool. I would love for Bug to go to Chinese school but it is in downtown Phx at 8am and we just cannot make it work. I hope she enjoys the class and you learn a word or three as well!