Regardless where you live in the world, communication is the most important tool you have to make yourselves understood. Words of course play a major role but we have found so many other ways to express ourselves. Be it signs, art and music. The list could go on; we just need to be creative. Communication skills is a must-have when applying for most jobs nowadays.

So what happens then when language becomes a barrier?

I could relate too well. I went to Germany as an au-pair, with only some basic German language skills. I was left with two kids, one of whom didn’t speak english or french. I was going around the house with my dictionary and would take 10 mins to tell her she should stop being naughty! Thank God this phase is over and I’m almost fluent in German.

Now to give you some background; I met my husband in Germany. We got married in Mauritius a few months later. We now have 2 kids, Cameron,6 and Dean,2 (not very German names!). My husband speaks German and English, which in a country where English is the official language, should not be an issue at all. Not if you know the Mauritian history.

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Mauritius is a former Dutch (1638–1710), French (1710–1810), where the island started developing effectively, and British (1810–1968) colony. Though the English occupancy is still very well felt in the Government and even educational system, most Mauritian will speak French. The French brought slaves from Africa. As a result, and for better communication, Mauritian creole was born. Meaning, it is easier for us to speak and understand French. Even if the school books are in English, the language used for teaching is mostly French. (I’m only trying to write in English to get more viewers :p)

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Cameron grew up with both French and German. At first she would mingle the two languages, but by the time she was 4, she could clearly tell which was which. I was proud of her, but also happy I could scold her in public, without anyone understanding what I was saying(don’t judge me πŸ™‚ ) But then, about two years ago, my husband and I had to take a decision which was hard for all of us. He went back to Germany for work, and I stayed in Mauritius with the kids. Dean was only 5 months old. During his time abroad, we communicated via Messenger and Dean ,though not really “knowing” is father was aware of him.

As a working mom, I decided to go back to live with my dad. It was the best choice for the kids and myself. My grandma lived next door and she took care of them while I was at work. The children were surrounded by the family. My dad, brother and cousins, aunt and Grandma. They had the chance to live what I had the chance to experience as a kid; Family values.

Of course, I am ashamed to admit that during that time, not a single word of German was spoken. Our daily life went on in a very Creole atmosphere, spiced up with some French. Back to the roots! It is true that kids learn a language very easily at that age, but it is also true that they forget quite as easily.

Now the issue; Hubby came back from Germany yesterday. Though the Homecoming was one filled with emotions, my laziness of not nurturing my kids in their second language is being felt. They do not understand their dad! My daughter would pick some words and sentences back up through her selective memory. Funny to observe how kids can be so cunning these times. She would do as said when being asked to bring this or that, give a kiss or hug, but answer with a i-don’t-know-what you-mean grin, when being told to behave. Even funnier – she would answer back in basic English she learns at school (though she always told me she didn’t learn anything when I asked how was her English class).

Until we find a place for ourselves where the language will be heard on a daily basis, we are trying to slowly introduce German language back in the children’s life. So far we are not doing bad at all. Dean already understands when I ask him to show me his feet or hands. It should be easier for him, since he is just about learning to speak correctly.

Hubby’s only back since yesterday, so we have a lot of time in front of us. This journey to German language should be a funny one. One I too needed. We hope that we will be able to achieve it by the end of the year. All I can do for now is help and fantasize about being able to enjoy not being understood from the public in a few months from now.

If you have had the same experiences, I would welcome all tips to shorten the deadline I gave us and I hope you enjoyed the reading (though my English skills still have a long way to go for perfection).

β€œWhen the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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