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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Most Mandarin of All?

My youngest son got to go to Language Stars* for the first time this week.  His older brother was sick and make-ups are difficult for us because of our schedule, so I took Will instead.

I knew he would love class before we walked in the door.   We've been working on Mandarin since he was about 6 months old, so hearing the language is nothing new to him.  In fact, I talk to Will in Chinese more than my other 2 children.  Perhaps it has something to do with him being a captive audience in his high chair during lunch time . . . But when I talk or sing to him in Mandarin,  his face just lights up.  He knows it's different and special somehow and he loves it.

So, needless to say, Will seemed to feel right at home in our parent and tot class at Language Stars.  Even though he's only 15 months old, I was still expecting that "what-in-the-world-are-they-saying-mom" look of confusion.  (Maybe I'll own that one:  I probably have that look at lot!) Yet, my son had no such response.  He plowed right on, playing with toys and being all shy with the teachers as if it was perfectly normal that everyone around him was speaking Mandarin (There were 2 teachers this week.  One is a new teacher in training.)  To me, it's just more evidence of how young children process language much differently than we do.  He didn't care if he understood every word or not.  It was as if he was saying, "As long as there are toys and fun activities, count me in, Mom!"

Will probably did recognize some words, though.  The theme was "bedtime routines." We had already learned some of the words from a video that we have.  We use them every night as we get ready for bed.  As the class practiced the vocabulary, Will was so excited to take a washcloth and pretend to give the teddy bear a bath.  (Perhaps he was just glad that, for once, he wasn't the one in the tub.)  Kid-friendly, age-appropriate activities like this kept him engaged the whole time.

The class pretended to give Teddy a bath
I think Will is going to be able to speak the most Mandarin of all.  Even though his only words so far are "Ma Ma," "uh oh!" and "deng" (light in Mandarin), he seems the most interested in the language and has received the earliest exposure.  It will be interesting to see if I'm right.  But whether I'm right or not, there is one thing I'm sure of:  All 3 of them will be able to speak more Mandarin than me!

* We get 50% off our tuition for blogging about our experiences at Language Stars.  I say "we," but I guess it's just me since my 4-year-old can't type yet!
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