Three is a magic number 三歳がんばれ

Nina is suddenly making huge progress with her Japanese. Until now, everything seemed to be unconscious repetition. I speak. She repeats. She associates “inu” to dog, because I point at a dog when I said it. I wasn’t sure if she realized “inu” = “dog” in English. Same with her Chinese. She is about to turn three later in January and suddenly, she’s making a conscious effort to learn Japanese. We’ve always read Japanese books with her. I only read Japanese books, I’ve told her I can’t read English books, so she only brings me the Japanese books. She would listen, and sometimes repeat, but I didn’t know if she understood the book in full, especially some of the more difficult ones. Suddenly, she’s interested in words she doesn’t understand. She would ask “Mommy, what’s _____?” and I can give her the word in English and she goes, “Ohhhhhhh, OK.” Now, when she says “Mommy, can I have water please?” in English, I can ask her “Nihongo? (Japanese?)” and she thinks about it for a second before she asks again in Japanese. She’s starting to realize that I want to have a conversation in Japanese and tries to formulate sentences in Japanese using the limited vocabulary she has. It’s fascinating to see her make those efforts. Cool new development. We realize this is a big opportunity so we are thinking of a longer stay in Japan this year to boost this positive change. She used to confuse and combine “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” before (quarter Japanese, quarter Chinese, quarter English and quarter “Bah Bah Black Sheep”), but now each language is a separate song!
In terms of her Chinese, her Chinese teacher told me the same thing. In the beginning of the year, she only knew about 3 or 4 words of Chinese that she actively used. Now, she has a whole range of vocabulary and she’s making proper sentences with it. She has far surpassed me in my studies. More incentive to study for me! Three seems to be a magic age for our little one to start making new leaps in learning languages. Can’t wait to see what she does next!

最近の新菜の成長がすごい。日本語は今まで、聞いて、復唱して、が主だったのに、突如、彼女のなかで言語として、日本語を覚えようという気持ちが出来たらしい。例えば今までは、犬を見て、いぬ、とは言えても、実際に 「犬」を「Dog」と同じ意味の、違う言語の言葉として理解しているのかがはっきりしなかったんだけど、最近になって明らかに言葉と言葉をリンクして覚えようとしている。私は日本語の本しか読めないよ、といって日本語の本だけを読んであげてたんだけど、今まではただ聞いているだけだったのが、分からない言葉を認識して英語で何て言う言葉かを聞くようになった。しかも答えをちゃんと理解して覚えようとしている。「Mommy, Can I have water please?」と英語で言ってきても、「日本語は?」と聞けばちゃんと考えてから「お水下さい」というように。今まではテキトウだったのが、私には日本語で話しかける努力をするように。いや~、これは大進歩。でもそうなると、今までより本人にとって言語を覚えるのが自然ではなくなっちゃうのかな?この機会に日本に数週間帰るべきかを今検討中。きらきら星も英語、中国語と日本語をめっためたにして歌ってたのが、ちゃんと一曲ずつ歌えるように。

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