Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Retaining a First (or Second) Language

GG came to us at 3, fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin. We fully intended to help him retain at least the Mandarin, but he's pretty much refused to utter a word of it since the day he came home. This was emphasized today when we went for Chinese food at lunch. We learned that the restaurant owners are from the same city in China. (What are the chances?) A waitress is from a nearby city. So, naturally, they wanted to talk to him. They tried and tried and tried. He stared at his plate, refusing to even look at them. When they begged him to talk with them he said, "NO!" in a very firm, somewhat loud, voice. After they left, I reassured him that it was okay to talk with them, that he is staying with Mommy and Daddy. He showed a tiny grin. The next time they came over, he flirted with them from behind Daddy's sleeve. But that was the extent of it. As we were walking out the door, he got out "zài jiàn" (goodbye!)

We really don't know if he remembers any Chinese at all. He watches Muzzy and laughs at all the appropriate places, but when I ask him if he understands he says no.

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