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Further Lessons in ValenciSpanglish

By Jo Green - Mon 30th May 2011

As the end of my daughter's first school year at pre-school approaches, the developments in her learning - particularly her speech - have been amazing.

Obviously, we speak English at home, however, she is taught in Valenciano at School, but speaks Castilian to her friends and the parents of her friends in the playground. The parents all tell us that she speaks Castilian fluently (or as fluently as any three and a half year old can) and with no trace of an English accent. Her Valenciano is even better (apparently) and she is constantly singing nursery rhymes that she has learned at school to us. We clearly have no idea what she is on about most of the time.

During conversation she will often start speaking in English, only to dip in and out with certain words, or sometimes whole sentences in

Valenciano or Castilian - sometimes both. Apparently this is very common for children in this situation - they are learning 3 languages simultaneously and although they can grasp that there are differences, and that there are three different words for the same thing, they can't grasp which word to use in which situation.

Fortunately we can understand what she means when she speaks like this, but many people haven't got a clue.

If we ask her the colour of something In English, she will often answer with all three words - just to hedge her bets.

Worse still, my other half is in the habit of (trying to) speak with her in Castilian, as he works from home and has very little opportunity to practice. He was gutted the other morning when she asked him why he was 'talking funny' and asked him to stop because he wasn't making any sense.

Then there is the 'rolled r'. Like many three year olds, she has a little difficulty in pronouncing her r's properly; the word 'Three' would be pronounced 'Free', and so on... However, not so in Castilian or Valencian. I caught her practicing her rolled r's to herself this morning, sounding like the cross between a motorbike or a cat.... " Grrrrrrrrr.... " - No problem with pronunciation in the Spanish languages !

Even at the Vets a few weeks ago, the vet commented how our dog was very "Guapa", only for her to berate him that our dog was infact 'Macho' and as such was 'Guapo'.

To be fully tri-lingual at any age is deffinately a gift, and one which I wish I had been given myself, and it is fascinating to see how she is getting grips with the technicalities between learning three languages at the same time. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time until she fully understands which particular words to use and when.

Comment on this Blog

EDIT : News in just this morning that the Valencian Regional Government are to commence teaching Castilian / Valencian / English equally ( Will this mean that my daughter's other languages suffer at the expense of being taught a language that she will already know to a comparatively higher standard ? )
Jo Green - Tue, 31st May 2011

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