August 11, 2010

That Language Thing

PK's language skills have been progressing really well. She speaks primarily in English, but she does say a few words in Portuguese here and there, and can count to ten in Portuguese. I'm trying to encourage her to say more words in Portuguese so that we can someday have full-on conversations in that language. I'm finding that in speaking with her in Portuguese, my own Portuguese has significantly improved. I am also making more of an effort to write e-mails to my mom in Portuguese, which is really improving my spelling and grammar. I think I write at a grade 3 or 4 level, and though I can easily read Portuguese, reading books in that language can sometimes be a slow process, with my vocabulary being rather limited.

With having lived in Canada for 21 years and speaking primarily in English, my pronunciation has degraded somewhat and I probably have a bit of an accent when I speak. Though to be sure, my accent is not nearly as gringo as my sister's. I speak in Portuguese to my mom (though her English is perfectly fine), but that's only for maybe a couple of hours a day at most. My sis and I speak strictly in English, since we find speaking in Portuguese to each other to be totally weird and embarrassing. I *sometimes* speak in Portuguese with my dad, though I feel more comfortable speaking to him in English. I keep thinking that he is constantly judging my grammar or something.

The point is, speaking in Portuguese to PK has been a wonderful thing. I wasn't even going to speak to her in Portuguese initially, leaving it all to my mom, because I was kind of ashamed of my pronunciation. But the more I do it, the better I get. And the better PK gets at learning the language.

It's the same thing with French. I totally kicked ass at French in high school. I only learned it starting in grade 5, but I picked it up pretty quickly, since it's so similar to Portuguese. My high school had a 50/50 French program, which meant that I could take half of my classes in French. As a result, I spoke pretty fluently for a while. I even participated in French public speaking competitions in grades 9 and 10, winning 2nd and 1st places, respectively, at the provincial level. But then high school ended and as the years went by, my French degraded. After PK was born, however, I started buying her tons of French books. The Indigo near us has a little French book section (and by little I mean a small shelf), but that was enough to get us started. I try to read to her in French every day and I am always amazed by how many words I've forgotten in the 13 years since I finished high school. But at the same time, I am grateful that I have this "excuse" to buff up my French vocabulary and pronunciation. Plus PK really loves her French books. It's win/win.

Her English development is of course the most advanced of the three, and I can't believe how much it has improved in the past couple of months. She knows her basic colors and shapes, can count to ten, and sings a bunch of songs (they are *somewhat* intelligible, though definitely becoming more so every day). And she uses two, three, or even (occasionally) four-word sentences. She says stuff like:

"PK do that."
"Right here."
"Mommy soon. Daddy soon."
"Mommy here. Daddy here."
"Help please."
"PK eat? Yeah?"
"Mommy doing." (translation: "What's mommy doing?")

And so on.

The coolest thing that she said though, was last night, when she said, "This is a light." I know that the items above count as "sentences", but this has been by far her most "complete" sentence. It is becoming increasingly easier for us to understand her, and we can ask her to choose between two items, or ask her what she wants to eat. She still says a lot of stuff that sounds like complete gibberish, but that's becoming more of a rarity. I really love that fact that she is able to express herself so well, but I will definitely miss the baby babble.

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