Call me a language nerd but gosh this is getting exciting!
Alex has been home now for two and a half months, after the summer's seven-week injection of Slovene. Mateja still speaks to him in Slovene, of course, and he understands everything but unsurprisingly, given the amount of English he gets at creche and our recent visit to England, the words are coming out much more in English.
The big news, grammar-wise, is the presence of I/me/my, as he becomes aware of who he is and that his possessions belong to him. Actually, to correct that, he claims that lots of things belong to him even when they don't, like a children's sized supermarket trolley today ('mine!'). He now says 'I want it/one' and 'I need it/one', for example, whereas a couple of months ago it would've been simply 'Alex!' In short, this is useful stuff.
The other thing I've noticed that he does brilliantly is copy. And I don't mean just words and phrases, though that too is impressive (Me: Take off your sweater or leave it on? Alex: Leave it on). No, I'm referring to intonation, body language and facial expressions. For example when he's offering something he leans his head ever so slightly to one side, looks up and raises his eyebrows. That is real and realistic communication.
In terms of pronunciation, he's getting much better at consonant clusters. The names of the other kids at creche are pronounced much more accurately than they were. One great example is Oscar. Mateja's step-sister has a baby son called Oscar, which used to come out as Oko-u (the second syllable like moker 'moko-u' and bagr 'bago-u'), but this afternoon it was close to perfection.
He also gets French in creche - to be precise, it's one week English, one week French, alternating - and a couple of weeks ago he shouted, quite randomly, 2014 (deux mil quatorze) at me. The nursery nurses tell me his French is coming along but there's little evidence at home. Maybe that will come out in due course.
Today we got a phrasal verb: tidy up. It's just a copied chunk of language, but that's really nice English.
The thing that really strikes me at the moment is that our conversations, especially on the way home from creche, are heading towards decent dialogue, with listening, asking questions, turn-taking and so on. Sometimes he doesn't answer the question and answers a completely different one but that's fine. The timing of his answers feels realistic.
Lastly, Alex's love of music shows no signs of abating. We attended the Philharmonie's open day last month and, from our point of view it was a great success. We came home with a poster showing all the instruments of the orchestra, which Alex has more or less memorised, and some nice memories, including attending mini-concerts, workshops and so on. We've also watched this Jack Teagarden video countless times. It's great on many levels, not least because of the incongruous nature of a 2 year old in 2014 watching a podgy-faced old maestro from the 1950s playing the trombone. I also love going through the instruments with him as they appear. Oh yes, the other unlikely new word from this video is 'coda'.
That's all for now, suffice it to say that the terrible twos have kicked in and it's not all fun...
useful verbs learnt lately: sleep, cry, sit ('sit daddy lap'), come, speak, work, play, put on, take off, turn over (and, just today) think!
PS just reading through this, I realised that there have been some choice phrases that need noting down:
- [pretending he'll sleep somewhere else] I sleep computer room, I sleep lounge. (I like this, not just because it's playful but also because there's an awareness of his surroundings. In a similar vein, 'daddy sit sofa' is really effective communication.
- Alex presses the intercom button from downstairs. Mateja, at home, answers and says hello. Alex: 'Open this door please!'
- Our personal favourite at the moment... Alex finishes a tantrum with the words 'finished crying'.