This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Video + language update

Hot off the press, er, camera! Yes, another phone video...this time Olivia and Emily were talking on a real phone with Daddy (in speaker mode). It was the first time Olivia actually stayed on to say more than just "hello!" It's neat to see her get so excited about everyday things :)Just a reminder, you may have to double click on the "play" arrow and it may stutter and hiccup a lot the first time through. After it all buffers the first time through it'll play much smoother if you try again.

In answer to some questions about language...

Olivia's very good at communicating through words and gestures and is pretty good at letting us know what she wants. She looks like a toddler and the language fits right in with a toddler's style of communicating, so it's not that different than having a toddler with emerging language. It hasn't really been much of a problem and she's picking up words every day. If she can't tell us something, she'll just say, "come on" and drag us to what she wants. Fortunately the first words she learned were "go potty." If she's wants a drink, she'll get a cup and say "milk" or "juice." She loves going outside and in the car and will try to get us out by bringing her shoes and saying "shoes on" or "go bye-bye."

If she doesn't want something, she's quit to let us no by shaking her head and hand and saying, "no." The basics aren't too hard to figure out, but there are many times when she jabbers to us in Chinese and it'd be nice to know what she's saying. I think she knows we don't understand though and doesn't seem to get frustrated about it. She's learning more and more English every day and from what I hear, she'll probably be conversationally fluent within 8-12 months of arriving and sound like any other American kid. Pretty amazing, huh?!

The sad part is that since she's not immersed in Chinese, even if she were enrolled in a Chinese class, she will lose her native language and the ability to understand it. It's officially called subtractive bilingualism; her English is going to replace her Chinese instead of acquiring a second language. Immigrants who still hear their native language at home become bilingual, but unfortunately Olivia won't have that luxury. Even if we wanted to attempt to retain her language, there are no classes available in her native tongue which is a little Cantonese, a little Mandarin and a lot of a local Guangxi dialect that most other Chinese can't understand or translate for us. Most Chinese classes are in only taught in Mandarin and our school district is now offering it. It'll be interesting to see if Mandarin will come easily to her if she chooses to take it in school. I imagine she'll be able to pick up the sounds and tones more readily than most.


The Geroux Family said...

Too Too cute! I just love it Karyn! I bet Emily has had to learn a LOT of patience. Emily looks like she does well with Olivia but it must be tough for her. I love how Olivia just rambles on and on and the way she says "Emily and Daddy", ohmigosh!
Jill G.

Caroline said...


We are missing the girls so much. Over the weekend Craig was talking about how amazing Emily did on the trip. We are experiencing many of the challenges that your family did in China.

Please don't give yourself a hard time about the language transition. TanTan is an amazing and beautiful girl. She is tough beyond all of our comprehension. We have no doubt that later in life if she wants to relearn Chinese she will be at the top of her class.

All our love to Emily & Olivia,


PS - The high five is the best