Tag Archives: multilingual

Catalan Book Review




And then comes the moment that she brings a book from school to be read and reviewed…in Catalan language! Up till now she has done about 4 book reports on her previous class (1st grade) and 1 book in this new class, but all of them were in English. She doesn’t even get one in Spanish yet. So she’s quite nervous that she now has to read and review a book in Catalan. It’s not a very long and difficult book, but it does have quite some text to read.

14 months ago she only spoke a few words in English and zero Spanish except ‘hola’ and ‘adios’. Nowadays she speaks English quite well and also Spanish. According to herself her English is at this moment a bit better than her Spanish, but it’s absolutely amazing how quickly she masters these two languages. Saying so, learning Catalan is not her focus last year. She understands it a bit (much much more than we do!) but talking is difficult and reading also. Since Catalan’s writing is not phonetically spoken like Spanish. You read it differently than how you speak it. Maybe this year her teacher wants her to learn more Catalan, hence giving her a Catalan book to be reviewed. Maybe.


Most people living in Catalonia are bilingual. They switch between Spanish and Catalan fluently, which is amazing. Well, good thing and bad thing. Because while they mostly don’t mind to speak only in Spanish when they find out we’re not speaking Catalan (yet), they still tend to use some Catalan words in their speaking. So it happened that we suddenly heard our doctor said something in Catalan, but also the neighbour, office colleague, and of course on the street where it’s all written and said in Catalan (about 70-80%). We had one funny experience when we bought Sky’s bike from a guy living in Vic, a city about one hour riding from our house. As usual, we started the conversation by apologizing for our very simple Spanish. His answer: “Well, it’s not my first language either (Catalan it is), so we are equal.” That was a genius statement!!



For those who think that Spanish and Catalan are similar…no they are not. Well okay, the amount of similar vocabulary is significant and you will learn Catalan absolutely quicker when you already speak Spanish. When I read I can often guess the meaning of the text (based on my Spanish vocabulary). But when listening, depending on who’s speaking and the context, sometimes I understand completely zero and other times up to 40%. That’s it. I followed basic Catalan class last year, 20 hours in 2 weeks. All my classmates were South-American whose Spanish is their mother language. And they all need to learn Catalan from the basic. That shows how different those two languages are. I do not avoid to learn more Catalan, not at all. But at this point I think it’s wiser to strengthen my Spanish first. My plan is to continue learning Catalan next year. Poco a poco, they say. Poc a poc, in Catalan. Little by little.

Back to the book review. I promised Sky to read the book together with her, because we are learning together. I think that relieves her a bit, knowing that we are all in the same journey. That it’s not something scary we’re facing, but an interesting stuff for all of us. Learning language takes time, but it’s fun! 🙂


Her Spanish comics

how quickly children learn (languages)


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There are 4 non-Spanish children in Sky’s class. Two of them instantly become her best friends and both girls speak English (one also speaks Spanish as her second language and the other Catalans). Such a lucky situation, because their friendship improves Sky’s English (a lot!) and helps her through learning some Spanish and Catalans words. The teacher affirms that, and I notice it in many ways. Some days when she comes home from school she even answers me with “yes/no” or “si/no”, and I notice a slightly different “r”-sound in her pronounciation. Very English! Her Spanish also goes rapidly forward. Because I think she constantly hears (and uses) it at school. The other 22 children in her class speak Spanish, of course! Plus she gets extra Spanish lessons at school, together with other children from all classes who do not speak Spanish yet. I can’t measure it, but I think she actually understands a lot of Spanish (and Catalans) words now. Which is amazing!!!

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Three weeks ago one of the girls was celebrating her birthday. So we spent one lovely Sunday afternoon on a horse riding school, because both the girl and her mom ride horses. That was actually the first time I could “observe” Sky, how she behaved and talked with her friends. And wow!!! I can hardly put it in words, how amazed, proud, happy, moved I was…to hear her talking in English, just like that! She can do it, she does it, she has no problem with it…and she seems happy with all that. 🙂

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And when she doesn’t know how to say a word, she uses other words she knows or even mixes it up with Dutch, which is completely perfect. For example I heard her saying to her friend, pointing to the back of her helmet: “You have a ‘strik‘ on your ‘helm‘” (strik = Dutch for a bow). And the friend would reach to her helmet and felt the ‘strik‘, and she knew what that was, and they laughed together. So…so lovely…how children create their world without having to speak a certain language. Without expectation and prejudice… 🙂

Oh, and the horse riding itself was also very fun. The instructions were in Spanish, but once again the children were all okay with that (fun learning!). At the photo below Sky was making a pirouette on the back of the horse! And the parents and friends came from all over the world, we had a truly international table, which made me so thankful to be part of it. Blessed!

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family matters



Untuk pertama kalinya Sky bertemu dengan “opa Indo” (ayah Stella)! Juga bertemu dengan “om Sandy” dan “tante Amanda” (adik Stella dan istrinya)! Betul-betul peristiwa bersejarah nih…juga untuk kami, karena sudah lebih dari 7 tahun yang lalu saat kami bertemu mereka untuk terakhir kalinya. Bahkan kami belum pernah bertemu muka dengan Amanda! Yang oleh sebagian besar keluarga dianggap “normal”: famili yang secara fisik maupun mental bisa sering bertemu, saling mendukung dengan kehangatan dan kasih, buat kami adalah sebuah kemewahan yang luar biasa!

Opa Indo cuma sehari di rumah kami. Sebetulnya acara utamanya adalah mengikuti simposium 2 hari di Maastricht, dibungkus dalam paket tur 10 hari keliling Paris – Brussels – dan beberapa kota di Belanda. Jadi dia bisa “kabur” 1 hari untuk menginap di rumah kami, hehe… Om Sandy dan tante Amanda sedang berada di tengah-tengah tur keliling dunia selama 6 bulan (yaaa kami cemburu sekali lho, hehe). Dari tempat tinggal mereka di Sydney, Australia, mereka menghabiskan sebulan dulu di Cina untuk mengurus bisnis mereka. Sesudahnya 3 bulan keliling Eropa, dilanjutkan dengan Amerika. Mereka menghabiskan beberapa hari yang menyenangkan bersama Sky di sini (dan akan datang lagi selama beberapa hari di minggu-minggu mendatang). Sky suka banget dengan om dan tante “baru”nya, terutama tante Amanda sudah berhasil mencuri hati kecilnya, hehe…

Sekarang kami masih menikmati kenangan baru kami (tapi juga menikmati hari-hari tenang setelah beberapa hari yang sangat padat, hehe). Melihat-lihat ulang foto-foto dan video-video yang dibuat (atas permintaan oma Indo, yang sayangnya tidak bisa ikut). Entah kapan kami bisa melihat mereka lagi. Yang jelas kami bakal mencoba untuk membawa Sky ke Indonesia sebelum usianya 4 tahun (jadi harus masuk sekolah).

Minggu lalu rumah kami jadi berisi campuran beberapa bahasa sekaligus… Opa Indo dan om Sandy senang sekali karena mereka ternyata bisa berkomunikasi dengan Sky. Dia mengerti hampir semua bahasa Indonesia yang dikatakan kepadanya, hanya balasannya hampir semua memang dalam bahasa Belanda. Kalau semua mau bercakap-cakap tentu kami menggunakan bahasa Inggris (kecuali Sky tentunya). Bahasa Ibu tante Amanda memang bahasa Inggris, tapi dia juga fasih berbahasa Cina. Sebetulnya akan lebih lucu lagi kalau oma Indo ada di sini, karena dia akan bisa ngobrol dengan tante Amanda dalam bahasa Cina. Seru ya, keluarga berbahasa jamak seperti kami ini, hehe…



Sky heeft voor de eerste keer haar “opa Indo” (Stella’s vader) ontmoet! En ook “oom Sandy” en “tante Amanda” (Stella’s broertje en zijn vriendin)! Als dat geen belangrijke mijlpaal is…ook voor ons, want het is inmiddels 7 jaar geleden dat wij hen ontmoet hebben. We hebben Amanda zelfs nog nooit in het echt gezien! Wat de meeste gezinnen als “normaal” beschouwen: een familie die je, fysiek en mentaal, met liefde en warmte omringt, is het voor ons een grote luxe!

Opa Indo was maar voor 1 dag bij ons thuis. Eigenlijk ging hij voor een 2-daags symposium in Maastricht, ingepakt in een 10-daags groep tour van Parijs – Brussel – en een paar steden in Nederland. Dus voor 1 dag kon hij “ontsnappen” en bij ons logeren. Oom Sandy en tante Amanda zitten midden in hun 6 maanden wereld reis (ja we zijn ontzettend jaloers, haha!). Vanuit hun woonplaats in Sydney, Australië, hebben ze eerst 1 maand in China voor hun business gespendeerd. Om daarna 3 maanden door Europa rond te reizen, gevolgd door America. Ze hebben een super leuke tijd met Sky gehad (en ze komen nog terug om weer een paar dagen bij ons te spenderen). Sky is helemaal verknocht aan haar “nieuwe” oom en tante, vooral tante Amanda heeft haar hart echt gestolen. 🙂

We genieten nu nog na van de nieuwe herinneringen (maar ook van de rust na een paar chaotische dagen, haha). Van de vele foto’s en video‘s (speciaal gemaakt op verzoek van “oma Indo”, omdat zij zelf er niet bij kon zijn). Geen idee wanneer we hun weer kunnen zien. We zullen wel proberen om Sky, voordat ze 4 jaar wordt en dus naar school moet, naar Indonesië mee te nemen.

Een ratjetoe van talen was het wel in ons huis de afgelopen week, haha… Opa Indo en oom Sandy waren erg blij dat ze wel met Sky konden communiceren. Sky begrijpt vrijwel alles in het Indonesisch, alleen zegt ze de meeste woorden terug in het Nederlands. Als iedereen tegelijk wilde converseren dan is het Engels de voertaal (behalve Sky dan). Tante Amanda’s moedertaal is Engels maar zij spreekt ook vloeiend Chinees. Het zou nog grappiger zijn als oma Indo aanwezig was, want dan kan ze met Amanda in het Chinees gaan praten. Leuk hè, zo’n meertalige familie! 🙂