As you may know, Hahna is in 1st grade now and my younger girl Ava goes to preschool twice a week. Ava is 3 years old and she mixes Czech and English way more than Hahna but that’s because she is just now learning to speak fluently in full sentences in both languages.
Anyway, my good girl Hahna usually reminds her to speak Czech (when it is appropriate to speak Czech) which is just darling. Overall they are comfortable speaking English and Czech together when they are playing which is awesome.
When Ava plays by herself she ALWAYS does it in English which is interesting but I have a feeling that Hahna did the same thing when she was three.
What is new and super exciting is that Hanicka learned the Czech ‘r’ and ř! I was ready for her to struggle with it much longer. I heard that some bilingual kids won’t learn it until they are 9 or 10 years old. Anyhow, how did it start? She just got curious herself and wanted to speak like mommy ever since she was about 5. Then her same-aged friend Kacenka (whose parents are both Czech but live in the US) started to show signs of the Czech ‘r’ when we saw them about 6 months ago and from then Hahna really put herself to work and was practicing all the time, mostly in bed when she was falling asleep :). And then one day, voila! She did it! Czech “r” followed short time after that. I think she feels like a total grown up now.
And then there is of course, our Czech school. Both girls are now attending it and they love it. They don’t necessarily need it but what they need is the sense of a Czech community – Czech friends, Czech teachers,…and Czech homework! They always proudly say: “Mommy, we got TWO schools, an English one and a Czech one!
They even had their first Christmas performance, singing into a real deal microphones. One of the songs all the kids were singing was a traditional Czech Christmas carol called “Narodil se Kristus Pan” (“Jesus Christ was born”). The three oldest kids (4 to 6 year old) had a solo which consisted of 1 sentence. But the sentence is in archaic Czech which made it a ‘bit’ harder on the kiddos. My daughter’s solo sounded like this: “Jenz prorokovan jest, radujme se, ten na svet poslan jest, veselme se”, which means “The predicted one, let us be happy, was sent to Earth, let us be merry”. Well, the word ‘poslan‘ (meaning ‘sent’) is really close to the word ‘posran‘ which means ‘crapped on’ and that is what my totally innocent daughter sang instead. You can imagine how hilarious that was to the parents!
Hahna has a few Czech-American friends (kids of my Czech girlfriends living here) that she has play dates with. It is sooo fun and sooo rewarding to see them speaking Czech together but also very challenging since they tend to switch to English a lot. Hahna is usually my police/hound dog who tells her friends to speak Czech but sometimes she forgets and then it is up to us, Czech parents, keep our antennas on and whenever we hear them speak English we yell “CESKY!!!” (speak Czech!). Of course, it must be very fun for them to switch into this ‘forbidden’ language and to conspire against their crazy Czech mommas that way.
Now a story about Ava. Not so long ago I took the girls to the park. One of the parents attending was a Russian lady who spoke to her child in Russian. A 3-year-old Ava overheard it and said to her in Czech: “Ty mluvis cesky? (Do you speak Czech?)”. Or course, this unfriendly stone-faced woman says “Pardon me?” If it was me I would start sobbing and run into the bushes somewhere. But Ava persisted:”Ty jsi Ceska? (Are you Czech?)”. Then the Russian lady says they are Russians and that’s it. I was just amazed what a good ear she has at 3 years of age if she can recognize Russian as something similar to Czech!
OK, that’s it for today :). Here are my previous Mommy Diary post in case you are interested:
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