So Caitlin was just here visiting me recently, along with Caleb and Hot Mummee and Grandma.
Caitlin’s English has been pretty good all her almost-7-years life. Thanks mostly to us speaking to her with it, TV and the kiddie movies, and also to an extent the podcasts and online games she plays (no, not those you are thinking- these are just the simple Disney ones / online-extensions of the TV-channel programs).
So when she was here in Melbourne and whenever we went out, I’d try and get her to speak to some people- such as asking for directions, ordering food, etc.
She was apprehensive.
I guess she is aware that she is in another country, in a place where English is generally the first language of the locals.
As a parent I have kinda been conscious to not highlight too much to my kids the difference between people. Sure, in her studies they are already taught the differences between races- Yes, seriously. But I guess Grandma has also been “prepping” her for her journey here, that perhaps she may not be able to understand the Aussie accent, and maybe even that she should learn to speak proper English.
I may be wrong, but I think if Grandma had in fact been doing this, it may have had an adverse effect- the apprehension in Caitlin now.
She clearly did not want to interact. Sure she may not have been as brave in KL but I think she was especially apprehensive here. At one time we were in a local hypermart store and she wanted to check out some toys. I asked her to ask the staff where the toy section is. She blatantly did not want to try. She even offered me: “I don’t understand what they are talking about!”
Back home after shopping, in trying to ease her worries, I thought of this: Since their arrival I had left the TV on ABC’s kids channel. Here they air as much local content as possible. I asked her a simple question: “Do you know and understand what the real people (and sometimes the animated characters) are saying?”
Her answer was a quick and simple Yes.
“So then who said you don’t understand Australian English?”