Thursday, January 24, 2013

From baby-speak to proper-speaking

A common comment by friends often refer to Jay’s speaking ability. At 18 months, he was able to communicate with us clearly (for better or worse). Xav (when he feels like it) can also properly express what he wants and doesn’t want – which can consist anything from “I want to open this present now” to “I want strawberry” to “Where’s Daddy, Mummy?”

There’s really no secret formula to the kids learning to speak properly. I just happen to be predisposed to helping them along this journey. No thanks in large part to my grammar nazi other-personality. Which turns up whenever I hear improper usage of English, or poor pronunciation.

First off, I was adamant that my kids address me as “Mummy.” That’s right. “Mah-mee.” Not “Mama” (which was taken by the Grandmother) or other short forms like “Ma” or “Mee.” My youngest nephew, till he turned four, was calling my sister “Neenee” for short. Was he referring to “Mummy”? Undoubtedly. But I sure don’t want Jay or Xav calling ME that. The price? It took the kids till they were about 12 or 13 months before they could call me.

At the risk of sounding severe, it’s really very much like training  a dog. It requires a lot of persistence and patience. Each time the kids tried to address me, I will go “MAH-MEE”, and gleefully cheer when they get it closer and closer each time. This happens several times a day.

And I am just talking about one word here.

Now, whenever Jay shares about his day, I will also interject with the right phrase or verb. Now, Jay is so “trained” he automatically corrects himself whenever he says something wrong.

Jay: What we doing after school Mummy?

Me: What ARE we doing after school?

Jay: What are we doing after school, Mummy?

Me: Oh, we’ll be going to have dinner at Parkway.

And so you see? It takes an almost anal mummy to doggedly be at this 24-7.'s Talkative Thursdays


Dominique Goh said...

I too insist on the kids speaking proper English. I feel it's really irritating when they lapse into broken English even though I have repeatedly corrected them.

mummybean said...

Lol! I'm exactly like that too! That conversation sounds exactly like what happens in my home. But I like "Mama" :) Always feel a bit sad when the kids progress to calling me Mummy.

MummyMoo said...

Siao Liao... C can't even speak properly yet! Don't say grammatically correct sentences. Hahaha!

Now Mama is used when he wants HELP.

HELP!! San - I park him over at your place pre-pop, k? Give him tooshun. Haiz.

Madeline Heng said...

I do that too! Research has shown that a child's expressive language is very much dependent on his mother (not father!) so it's us that determines how well our kids speak :)

Sandra Tan said...

Haha... I enjoyed your comments, girls!

And aside to MummyMoo - C might not be able to take my anal-ness! Hahaha... But when he goes school, I think things should improve. After all, he will learn speaking is really about "survival" too! :P