Sunday, August 15, 2010
My 11 year old daughter and I are vacationing in Thailand this month partly due to her desire to speak Thai - her father's language. Andara was born in the U.S. where I spoke English and her father spoke Thai with her. Although she went to the Thai temple and visited Thai friends, she could understand Thai but never really spoke it. With this in mind, we travelled to stay with my in-laws and her father's family, living in an environment surrounded completely in Thai. The Thai family does not speak English, in fact, they speak both the Thai language and a northern Thai dialect to make things really interesting. The first week here was typical for a new speaker; I could tell Andara was listening to everything said to her, trying to make sense of it all, but it wasn't until the second week that she attempted small words and answers to direct questions - emerging slowly out of that silent phase after only one week. Her family has been very helpful not only asking questions slowly and repetitively but also answering the questions for her, modeling how to speak Thai. Today she even answered the telephone! It's been quite extraordinary watching her come to terms with a language she has been very familiar with but never really understood - until now.