Linguisting it up a little

The twelve-month (possibly even less for Hubby) countdown to Blighty has begun, so we have at last had to get down to the task we’d been putting off for so long: turning him into a speaker of English.

Now this might sound like a doddle, especially given that English happens to be my mother tongue. “Just speak to him in English all the time” is the advice most people offer, “he’ll soon pick it up!” Which is great in theory, although a little less great if you have important domestic information (and occasional snippet of gossip or declaration of spousal affection) to communicate to one another in the paltry hour or two we get to spend together most days.

Plus English is currently Maya’s strongest language, and we worry that if she hears her father addressing me in it, however stiltedly, she might well be tempted to abandon using Romanian with him altogether.

And then there is the fact that Hubby and I have always spoken Italian together, even though it is neither my nor his mother tongue. Attempting to change the common language after five years not only feels stiff and unnatural, but it also carries the risk of us losing our hard-won Italian once we are back in the UK.

Luckily I am a qualified (in so much as very short TESOL course qualifies one for being qualified) teacher of English as a foreign language, so for a bleary-eyed hour every evening, we now sit at the dining table and work our way through a chapter of Essential Grammar in Use -the first in what is quite simply my favourite series of EFL books (heaven would be finding similar guides for all those languages I still hanker after).

Thus I am doing my bit; and if Hubby takes on board my implorations to listen to UK radio on the way to and from work, make the most of the original language button on the Sky box and actually pay attention when our daughter (or indeed any English speaker) and I are nattering, I am hopeful he will not die of starvation should I be forced to send him into the wilds of Northamptonshire a month or two before we are able to follow.

But that is not the only attempt at linguistic advancement currently taking place in our house, for I am contemporaneously trying to up my game in Romanian.

Admittedly I do have one advantage over Hubby in this, as learning new languages is one of my most favourite things to do as opposed to a reluctant necessity. So I do pay attention when he is nattering to our daughter (or indeed any Romanian speaker), and I am keen to watch Romanian television or listen to Romanian radio when I have the occasion, even though vast swathes of it go over my head.

Other than finally being able to indulge in a decent chit chat with those of my in-laws not conversant in Italian, another motive for increasing my level of Romanian is to help Maya get more exposure.

Because whilst her Tati spends as much time as he can interacting with her, and we try to ensure at least some Romanian cartoon time, she hears precious little of it elsewhere. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Hubby and his adult relatives use a Romanian/Hungarian dialect, although they speak Romanian to their children; apart from the sister-in-law in our village, who speaks to her two in Italian. So if I am able to hold even simple conversations with my husband in Maya’s presence, it will hopefully add a little something to her currently rather one-dimensional Romanian-language experience.

Of course if any of us end up communicating coherently in any of the three languages after all this, it will be nothing short of a bloody miracle 😉


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4 Responses to “Linguisting it up a little”

  1. Exwageslavea Says:

    Listening to native speakers talking in the language you are learning is so important – when I started learning Italian and was in Italy and people were talking amongst themselves, the temptation was to switch off and rest my brain. WRONG! Listening in gives you such an insight into phrasing, intonation, sentence construction, then gradually you are absorbing this into your own speech. Eventually the lightbulb moment comes when you are coming out with a few sentences without having to painfully search your brain for each word, conjugation etc. BLISS!

    Liked by 1 person

    • statusviatoris Says:

      Listening, and talking. Throwing yourself in at the deep end is the only way – you can read grammar books until the cows come home, but it you are too scared to open your mouth in case something comes out wrong (a common native English-speaker problem) you are unlikely to make much progress. I think Hubby will find it easier to try out his English on relative strangers than on me or in front of me, so I am hoping that from now on he will be taking the plunge when I am not around!


  2. farfalle1 Says:

    How long I have been absent from your blog, and I see there’s much to catch up on. You’re moving back to England? I shall go back and read past posts to come up to speed. Our own departure from Italy a year ago and subsequent ‘life’ has kept me from my old bloggy friends. I envy you your facility with and love of learning new languages. Some do it more easily than others. But as long as you’re all talking to each other, in any language, it’s good, right? Now to go search for some pics of Maya who is certainly bigger than she was a year ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • statusviatoris Says:

      It’s lovely to hear from you again! I’m obviously behind, because I hadn’t realised you’d actually left, I thought you were just on your usual break to the US. I will also go back and read some posts to get up to speed 🙂


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