Saturday, January 19, 2013

Learning Spanish

Second week of working with Celeste was different. Instead of doing a memory verse, I chose to try to speak purely in Spanish to her on 2 nights. I speak Spanish fluently (though I did learn it as a second language)> I have mostly been very focused on trying to teach her Fanti. This is my father and husband's tribal language in Ghana, West Africa. The problem is that I do not speak this fluently. I know phrases and some words. I have been teaching her pretty much everything I know in Fanti, which is really not that much. My husband has some trouble keeping himself speaking purely to her because he is quite frankly, more comfortable expressing himself in English since he was formally taught in English both in Ghana and the US and he certainly speaks it most of the time here. Also, of course, I don't understand everything he is saying so this makes it tough to not be tempted to switch back to English. I remember pestering my father when I was in high school and college. "Why didn't you ever speak to me in Fante??? I wish I could speak another language. It's all your fault I don't speak anything but English!" I would immaturely say. I always did wish that I could speak another language back then. I recently got images in my head of Celeste at age 13 saying the same thing to me "You speak Spanish! Why didn't you ever speak to me so I could learn!" I felt really bad. This hit me even more when we recently visited a Spanish only speaking couple's home. I was conversing with them in Spanish of course and Celeste walks up. They started to greet her in Spanish and turn to me, "Does she speak Spanish?" " guess I've been focused so much on teaching her my husband's language that I don't do any Spanish at all." I would say. I don't know what the right approach to this is. I know that I am finding it challenging to teach her a language that I myself am not comfortable with. My husband is interested in learning Spanish, so I suppose we could try as a family, but I did try once during dinner preparation time to speak only in Spanish to them both and he would just turn to me annoyed and say "I don't know what you're saying".  Aaaah...of course it's going to be harder for an "old dog" to learn compared to the young little sponge I have.

Well, the short bit of Spanish only time with just Celeste was mostly during bath/bedtime. It was incredible how much she understood just by my intonation and gestures. The most amazing reward was that at the end of the week, I think a couple days after the last time I spoke to her in Spanish I was bathing her again and she turned to the tub where I had just unplugged the drain and said "Bye bye agua" (water) I was so surprised! She retained this word after just teaching her. Again, I don't know the proper way to do this, but it looks like even the smallest most pitiful effort on my part will yield some results. I guess that's how I'm taking this entire working full time and trying to preschool my daughter thing. Every little bit is better than nothing.....

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