Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Does she speak Chinese or English?

At Adopted the Comic, a cartoon all international adoptive parents can relate to!

I got the comment even before Zoe came home, by someone who knew she'd be under a year old when I met her -- Will she speak Chinese or English?


Anne said...

One of the secretary's at Steve's office asked exactly the same question. And the receptionist at my vet's office actually called me at home after I left from an appointment to find out if Mae would always say her l's like r's or whatever it is native speakers do when they learn English later in life. For God's sake, she wasn't even doing it then and she was only two or three!

OmegaMom said...

Oh, yeah. Of all the eyeball-rolling questions one gets at first, that one ranks in the top ten. (Though I still like, "Are you going to tell her she's...[whisper]...adopted?"

Anonymous said...

A friend got this comment at a store "Does she speak English?"

Her answer "Yes, she just does not want to talk to you."

Americans need to get a bit more savy about the world. Travel folks, travel.

Anonymous said...

While many of these people may be asking out of complete ignorance, hence the eyeball rolling I believe there is a shred of truth in the question.

Language aquisition does mean that a child adopted from say China is learning Chinese grammatical structure, vocabulary, non-verbal communication from the moment they are born in that culture, even if they aren't verbally producing it in the first year of their life.

When they come "here" they bring that first language with them structurally in their brain and they have to learn English now. In some cases they may seem like they are speaking English as they learn, but in fact are still using many Chinese grammatical structures, non-verbal, etc.

They may make subtle errors in English and non-verbal communication in doing so that show their original language. This whole process is often called subtractive bilingualism.

It's not really as simple as saying yes they talk English, because it often negates the actual process of what it takes for the child to become fully functional in the new langauge.

That is why you do see delays in many adopted children with regard to English. These can appear in the preschool and early school ages.