09 September, 2015

She said YES!

She finally said YES!! Well, actually not only once, my little princess started saying “YES”… instead of “SI” when I speak to her in English which is a big milestone since no English words seemed to be in her stockroom… 

This happened back in May. Now she turned 2 years and 6 months old she is like a mini-pink-cutest ever-strawberry cupcake-chatterbox, but mainly in Spanish…
The fact is she understands everything in English but she is still reluctant to answer in the same language. The closest reference that we have is her brother, and to be fair I think she speaks more Spanish (more precise, right verbal tenses, accurate and conjugated adjectives…), BUT less English than him at the same age, as he had his 2 year old spur in a more balanced way between the 2 languages.

The good thing is that when I get stricter and I pretend not to understand anything she is asking for, she switches and tries to say it in English, so I know she gets the OPOL picture. Now that I sat and mull this over, I think the difference lays a lot on 2 facts:

1.       I don´t turn a deaf ear on Spanish as often as I used to with the boy, I just don´t have the time now that there are 2 monkeys jumping around and more things to handle at the same time. The result is that she doesn´t have to switch mentally as many times as her brother did to get what she wants.

2.       My wife didn’t have the need to switch into English with the boy to increase exposure so we didn´t work on this option. Now apparently we should reconsider it, seing the results…
The big boy plays an important role too. He speaks in English to her sometimes but not very often, and lately he speaks Spanish to me sometimes, with her witnessing the scene. I answer in English and we zigzag a little until we follow the conversation in English. But in the end, when you look at the whole pic, again she doesn´t really feel THE NEED, which is the key point that prompts the speaking part.

Despite all this, I´ve perceived a change in my mindset. I feel much more in peace with the whole situation when hard phases come along, given the great results reached by the big boy. I mean he is a competent user of English now; he is 5 years old and if dropped in an English speaking country (let´s say) he´d be more than able to communicate and survive. As an example, we went to the beach during our holidays last month and while we were there he met a group of 4-5 year old British kids and started playing naturally with them... in English. I just felt like we had got something big, really big in fact, like all the pieces were matching together.

There´s also an interesting (revealing) thing that I´m noticing lately, and this is that, as I read in some books at the beginning of this adventure, what mum does impacts a 70% on the outcome, and what dad does matters only the other 30%, provided an equal amount of exposure… This, translated into a practical example is as follows: no matter how many times I ask the question in English, the girl´s answer is in Spanish, mum asks the question in English ONCE, and she automatically makes the effort of answering in English… Here you go Papi, in your face… but hey! Papi never gives up, Papi never surrenders…


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