Language through young eyes

  • 2016.06.03

My four-year-old boy has recently started trying to speak like an adult. He tries to copy everything from mannerism to facial expressions, intonation to vocabulary. It’s very entertaining and makes us all laugh out loud. This morning at the breakfast table, perfectly copying how his daddy speaks, he said, “I’m coming home early today. Then I’m going to Odori.” When his dad inquired, “Why are you going there?” He answered with some serious attitude, “Just gotta do some stuff.”

Strangely, this reminded me of how I improved my pronunciation and accent. One day, after a long chat with my English roommate, I noticed that I had started to sound like her. After that, I tried to pretend I was her talking on the phone at work, and it worked really well!! Obviously, children are more flexible and more open to new words and other aspects of language. They are immune to uncertainty and adventurous in trying anything we adults do and say. I believe this is the most effective attitude to have when it comes to language learning. As adults, we tend to panic when we encounter a word we don’t know or miss what someone has said. Instead of doing this, maybe it is better to continue following the conversation and trying to guess the meaning as we go – maybe we can pick up again what people are talking about.

When it comes to learning a language, as with many things in life, we can learn a lot from kids!



★mannerism: この単語には、物事のやり方が決まり切っていることを表す「マンネリ」という意味に加え、「(話し方・身ぶり・動作などの)独特の癖、さま」という意味があります。4歳の子が自分のお父さんの話し方や身振り、顔の表情からイントネーション、使う言葉まで真似するのですね(^v^)

★attitude:  「態度、心構え、気持ち、姿勢、身構え」などの意味のあるこの語は、ここでは強調するために斜体になっています。ここでもお父さんになりきって真剣な様子で‘Just gotta do some stuff’と言ったのですね!

★immune: 「免疫の、免疫(性)があって、」という意味を持つこの語は、ここにあるように「 (…を)受けるおそれがなくて、(…に)感じないで、動じないで、影響を受けないで」という意味でも使います。 

★uncertainty: 「確実、確信、確実なもの」を表すcertaintyの反意語で「不確実性、不安、不確実なこと」を表す名詞です。-tyをとった形容詞certain「(…を)確信して、確実な」、uncertain「確信が持てなくて、不安定な、不確かな」も合わせて覚えられると良いですね!子供は不確実なことに動じることなく言語を次々と吸収していくのですね!子供のころのように冒険心を持って言語習得を楽しめたらいいですね!