Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foreign Languages?

When I was in high school I took two years of French. It was either that or Spanish and I thought French a more romantic language. Also my friends were all taking French so I figured if I had trouble they could help me. Now more than two decades later I only remember how to ask if someone speaks French and how to introduce myself. If I ever go to France I'll have to dehydrate myself because I will have no way of asking where the restroom is.

My oldest child is taking Spanish. The first grading period she did better in Spanish than she did in her English class. I found this quite amusing as English is our native language. I joked about this for quite some time. Now the two grades are right in line with each other. I feel a bit better about it. I might mention that we encouraged her to take the class so she could order for us at the Mexican restaurant. We thought it would be a good idea after our son who is eight once asked us if the people working there were really Mexican or if they were just pretending to be like we pretend to be British at home.

We are quite fascinated with languages around here. Sometimes we try to speak with a British accent, sometimes Irish, sometimes Jamaican. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that apparently sometimes I speak Dutch. The thing with this is that I don't even realize I'm doing it. I don't even think I know what a Dutch accent would sound like. I have no idea how they speak. But apparently without knowing it I speak it to my children. This can be the only explanation really.

I first noticed this when they were younger and I would discipline them. I would be trying to talk to them and they would be looking at me like I had just dropped from the moon. They seemed to be trying to figure out what I was saying. Then as they got older I noticed it when I would ask them to do something. Again with the blank stare and the look of complete bewilderment. Then it occurred to me... they must not be able to understand what I'm saying. I mean I was pretty sure I was speaking English, which as stated before IS our native language. They are old enough to know most if not all of the words I was using. So apparently I wasn't speaking English.

I was talking about this to a friend of mine and she said that she had encountered the same type of thing with her children. Then she mentioned that she asked them if they understood what she was saying. If what was coming out of her mouth was English or if in fact she had broken out into Dutch. We established that apparently we both know Dutch and break out into it frequently without even knowing it. It's the only explanation as to why at times our children don't seem to compute what is being said to them, even though they are looking directly at us.

I have to say that I was quite relieved when I realized the problem. I still only hear English coming out of my mouth when I speak, unless I am trying to impress them with the very little amount of French I still remember. But I have hopes that one day they will record what I'm saying when I do apparently break out into Dutch so I too can enjoy the accent.

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