Sunday, October 19, 2008

Foreign Language Students (and Immigrants) Take Note(s)

Terri of Barriers, Bridges, and Books asks the question: “What have you learned or become that you might not have without and encounter with disability?”
If I would answer honestly, you might end up having a post the size of an abbreviated “War and Peace”…I could elaborate on learning acceptance, patience, learning to use the computer, etc etc., etc………
A funny answer, yet a true one, is that my mastery of Hebrew (I live in Israel) has increased ten fold. I joke with my new immigrant friends: “If you want to learn Hebrew really well, have a special needs child….
But I am not kidding here. I raised several children in the sunny country of the prophets before Ricki, and my Hebrew had reached a level that I could make “do” with. But I could “manage” because English is virtually the third language here, and how many serious discussions did I have in Hebrew anyway? “Put your shoes away.”, “I want two bottles of wine.” Just doesn’t need too big of an ability. But unlike my husband, who is a wiz at languages, I progressed slowly at best.
Fast forward to Ricki, age one and a half. Speech therapy. Years of speech therapy, therapy Mom sat in on and heard..
When Ricki turned seven, I hired a special once-a-week teacher for her. This teacher had aims that Ricki would know more than a basic pigeon Hebrew. She wanted her to learn literary words. Ricki did (and does). And so did Mom.
Then I had to fight half the country to get Ricki into inclusion, and then from a poor school to a more positive one. I had to advocate in Hebrew. In addition, I adapt most of Ricki’s work, which means that I have to read Hebrew texts and simplify them, all in good, properly spelled Hebrew. (And we are speaking her of a woman who could not write without “spell-check”, being that I am a terrible speller.) Words like “industrial revolution”, “capillaries”, “bluish” (as opposed to blue), and “miners” entered my wither-to raisin-dry (shrunken) vocabulary.
So if you want to learn a new language….take note, and at speech therapy…. take notes.


Anonymous said...

I think I could say the same about my professional vocabulary in English-- before my son (w/ special needs), it was ok (I am a special ed teacher, so I do have some background); now, I can hold my own fairly well w/ terminology/ jargon that impresses many...

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add to my previous comment:
I could never imagine being able to say/read/write all that in Hebrew though (and i do speak a decent conversational Hebrew!)-- Kudos to you! Now THAT'S s/t to brag about! :)

Batya said...

It reminds me of something related but from the opposite...
When we came back from shlichut in England, where dd#2 had had an IQ test saying she was gifted, I tried to get the precocious March-born girl into Kindergarten rather than 4 year old gan.
I called all sorts of offices and finally spoke to the secretary of an important person who said:
"How can your daughter be so bright, if she has a mother who speaks Hebrew as awfully as you do?"

So, she didn't skip a grade and she ended up with great classes and teachers, B"H. All because my Hebrew was atrocious.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

Very cool how you were able to learn that way. Interesting perspective.