When she just learnt to say ‘花’, which is flower in Chinese, she couldn’t stop pointing to every single flower-like things and say ‘花’. That includes the real flower in the garden, cut flower in the vase, a picture of flower in the book, a dash of color of flowers when passing by the car, and the flower print on her dress. It’s as if she’s practising the word and sucks in all sensations of the words about 花: the pronunciation, the word, the recognistion of something that she knows (or the correction from her parents if she used the word to describe a wrong thing), the reaction of her mum (nodding head and smiles), and the pure pleasure of all of them. It’s as if she’s learning to master the word by repeating, repeating, and repeating again. And she clearly enjoys it.
Another thing that contributes to the process of her learning, I figured, is the patience of people around her. Whenever she used the word to describe a different thing, I would correct her gently, and point her to the right thing. Next time that happens, I would do it again. No matter how many time that happens, I don’t seem to be annoyed. And nobody around her seems to be annoyed.
It got me wonder, what if we show the same patience to an adult learners (of a foreign language, or anything really)? What if we give our unconditional support without judging them, without taking for granted that they should know something by the end of 1st trial? What if we embrace their repetition and mistakes by acknowledging that it’s just part of learning? What if the adult learners never have to feel embarassed or sorry for having to repeat again and again? What if all that we can feel while learning is the pure joy?
Now Nina has about just about 10-15 words of vocabulary, equally distributed among English, Chinese and French. She obviously has a preference in the language when it comes to PRONOUNCE (not understand) any given thing. For example, she says ‘花’ for flower (although she understands ‘flower’ and ‘fleur’), ‘ball’ for, well, ball (although she understands ballon and 球）, and ‘Pied’ for feet (although she understand 脚 and feet).
I cannot really figure out how she chooses the pronounced vocabulary (is it the first word she hears? is it the easiest to pronounce? is it purely accident?), but she does seem to have preference.
I cannot wait for the day when she utters ‘flower’ or ‘fleur’ equally happily and effortlessly.
P.S. the photo attached is nothing to do with Nina’s languages. It’s a chair made by my husband and a mosaic bunny that I painted on our chalkboard. I am quite satisfied with both 🙂