Kids say all kinds of funny things. Listening to them talking and playing helps us learn more about the way children think and see things. Most of the following conversations were recorded and transcribed. At first, I recorded them to follow their language development and preferences. Later, it was so much fun reading all those conversations and getting a better insight into their thoughts and ideas.
This conversation was recorded during their play. They were preparing a surprise for their dad and had to tell him something.
Einstein E: I'll say that
Power P: But don't forget
Einstein E: Hey! I still have a robot here inside my head. And when I hear or do something, then I do something inside my head, and I know what is going on.
Power P: But, you know, silly,
Don't forget to turn your robot on and tell your head to turn the robot on.
Einstein E: No, the robot inside my head is always on, and the batteries never go empty.
Power P: I know.
Einstein E: And I can always make new plans and then I can make a new game tomorrow.
This was recorded during a mealtime. They were talking about food they liked when they were three and four years old and things they remember when they were even younger.
Mum: And how do you remember what happened when you were four?
Einstein E: I remember even when we were one year old, maybe. But just maybe.
Mum: And how can you remember that?
Power P: Mummy, can I have some water please?
Einstein E: Well, I don't know. Maybe it's because of the computer.
Mum: What computer?
Einstein E: Well, the one inside my head.
Mum: What kind of computer inside your head?
Power P: It's the brain. Everybody knows that. I have two computers. One is the brain and one computer with buttons for the brain so that it can work with it.
Mum: I still don't understand how you remember things.
What does this computer do for you to remember?
Einstein E: I control it to remember. Like that.
Power P: No, the brain controls the whole body.
Even though we know that one way to encourage children ask questions is to question them, we should know when to stop. They are not always in a mood to satisfy our curiosity. So, this conversation was recorded when we were on our way home from the kindergarten. They visited a nature garden that day and I wanted to learn more about the event.
Mum: And did this man talk in German or Croatian or English?
Einstein E: In German.
Power P: In German.
Mum: And what did he tell you?
Power P: You should go there and then you will hear.
Mum: But I'm not going there. That’s why I'm asking you.
Power P: Well, I don't want to.
Mum: Why don't you want to?
Power P: Because I don't like answering all those questions. Just go there.
Multilingual development is fascinating. You can learn more here.
Parents have their strategies for using more languages at home, but children have theirs. And to give some context to this extract, both my husband and I have certificates showing that we actually can speak German very well (C1 level). But obviously, that's not good enough to play with five-year-olds.
Mum: But I don't understand something. Why do you always play with me in Croatian, and when you two play, then it's in German?
Power P: Well, because you don't know much… because it doesn't sound right when you say something like that in German.
Einstein E: And besides that, if it has to be something different in a play…
And you don't know how to say it in German, then we have to stop our play all the time.
Mum: So that you can explain to me how to say something?
Power P: Yes.
Mum: And you can speak German very well?
Einstein E: Yes.
Power P: And we can speak Croatian also very well, and you too.
Mum: And what shall we do with English?
Einstein E: Well, that will happen when we know a lot of English.
Mum: And how much English do you know now?
Power P: Well, not that much.
Mum: Not that much?
And why don't you want to play in English?
Power P: Because I like playing with you in Croatian.
And if we play, then in German.
Mum: And what is with English?
Einstein E: Well, we just don't like it with you.
Mum: Ok, I understand all of that. You just tell me why, and we can continue with our play?
Why don't you want (to talk) in English?
Einstein E: Because we don't know much English and then we can make a mistake.
Power P: No.
Einstein E: But I do.
Power P: My body is just like that. My body likes Croatian and not English.
This conversation falls into the category of I`m-not-sure-if-I’m-embarrassed-or-proud situations with kids. So, there we were, at the doctor’s office for one of those pre-school screenings. One of the activities was about pronunciation and mimicking different sounds.
Doctor: OK, now, you are going to be a parrot. What can parrots do?
Einstein E: Well, they can fly.
Doctor: Yes, and what else?
Einstein E: They can stand on branches.
Doctor: That's right. Anything else?
Einstein E: Well…they can crush something with their beak.
Doctor: OK. And they can talk.
Einstein E: [looking all confused] No, they can't.
Doctor: [looking even more confused, probably wondering how does a five-year-old not know that]. Sure they can.
Einstein E: They can repeat a few words. Some parrots. They can't talk.
[Both staring at me.]