Thursday, December 24, 2009


Apparently, we are doing what is called "raising bilingual children." I am finding myself completely and utterly fascinated by the process. If we were living in America, sure the kids would be in a Jewish Day School and would learn Hebrew there. But, our house would certainly not be considered a bilingual one. From my own experience, the Hebrew learned in Jewish Day School is not exactly the same as the Hebrew learned from growing up as an Israeli kid! Big's vocabulary at almost 6 years old already surpasses mine. He's had 2 and 1/2 years of living immersed in Hebrew, compared to my 12 years of Hebrew at school in America. And, of course, he actually sounds Israeli when he speaks Hebrew. I sound like the immigrant that I am!
I asked Krazy's cousin who has lived here for years whether it ever gets old listening to her kids speak in Hebrew. She said she is still consistently amazed at how easily and fluidly they switch between the languages. I think it will always amaze me as well. And if we end up not staying here, I will be sad when they lose their super-cute Israeli accents.
Over Chanukah, we were in the mall with my sister-in-law and her kids. We were eating pizza in the food court and my 11-year old niece didn't finish hers and wanted a box to take it home. Although she knew how to say that in Hebrew, she was shy and didn't want to do it. I, mostly out of curiousity to see if he would do it, turned to Big and asked him to go to the counter and get a box for his cousin. Without hesitating, he ran over and I heard him say loudly and clearly "b'vakasha, efshar l'kabel kufsah?" (please can I get a box?) He NEVER would have done that a year ago. His confidence is just incredible. As is his intelligence (not that I am a bragging mother, of course!) and ability to absorb and learn 2 languages at once.
His teacher pulled me aside yesterday to tell me how great he is doing. She said he is not only writing all the letters, but he can sound out words and figure out how to spell them. And most of the time he gets it right! He is starting to do that a little bit in English as well, but seems to have an easier time of it in Hebrew. I think that is primarily because the Hebrew letters are more consistent in the sounds that they make than the English letters so it is somewhat more straightforward.
Little is also making progress. He still speaks a lot of gibberish and says it's Hebrew, but I have caught him having conversations with himself that are actually in Hebrew. I go with him to a gym class that is entirely in Hebrew and while he doesn't talk much during it, it is pretty clear that he understands most of what is going on because he follows instructions for the most part.
I find his mixture of Hebrew and English to be charming. Yesterday he told me: "At Gan Frieda (gan means kindergarten and that is the name of his school) there was ein or." That literally translates to "at school there was there was no light." Apparently there was a black-out, but I love the way he said it.


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