How to build up language confidence

Claire enjoys a lot her best friend and classmate Anna. Sometimes, she remains all day grumpy after a disagreement or a quarrel. Since good friends can go though little accident and learn from how to deal it by themselves, I never took seriously her complains and kept myself from being the referee.

One day, she was unusually mad and asked me seriously to stay at school next morning.

“For what?” I tried to figure it out.

“You will tell Anna that this is a U not a V!” she pointed at the word “Hug” printed on her cap.

“This is a U!” I confirmed, “she was just kidding!”

“No, she repeated this was a V. I told her but she thought she didn’t listen.” Claire was about to burst into tears.

“OK. Next time when I see her, I will tell her.”In fact, I just wanted to end this topic, which seemed insignificant.

“Will you tell her tomorrow?” she stared at me.

“OK! OK!” I was making short shrift.

“And don’t forget to tell her that it’s not good to wast hand soap. She always uses too much.” cheered Claire.

I didn’t tell Anna to recognize the right letter the next day. Claire kept reminding me my duty, even on the road to Anna’s house for a play date. I still did nothing, but hoped that Claire would forget it soon. For another reason, I still thought it wasn’t convenient to intervene children’s business.

Claire was disappointed. I could see. I told myself that thy were still best friends, even with this permanent small disagreement. They hugged tightly when Claire left school in the afternoon. The only thing was that Claire began to hate wearing her cap, which had been her favorite item for long time.

Weeks later, when I sent her in, she suddenly appeared frustrated. An idea stroked me and I stooped down to tell her, “I won’t forget to talk to Anna!”

I found her best friend at the play ground. Teachers were surprised to see me there, because usually I dropped my daughter in the classroom and she would go outside by herself to join the others. Anna was embarrassed to see me, for Claire was hiding behind me.

“Hi, Anna, shall we do a game? Guess what is this letter?” I pointed at the word “Hug” and tried to be as gentle as possible.

“U!” she answered in a tiny voice.

“Good job! Now you can hug!” I put Claire’s hand into Anna’s and pushed them together.

Why did I this? Did I intervene too much? At the parking, I had suddenly realized that recognizing the letter U or V was much more important to Claire than anything else. The two are all at the stage to learn alphabet. For Claire, confirming her capacity to learn well this foreign language is essential. She knew well that English is Anna’s native language and she admired native speakers. She could give in if someone pointed out her mistake in naming things or in her pronunciation.

I did that only to make my daughter believe in herself,  make her confident and comfortable with the new language. If she has the right answer but is doubted by others, she might have a inner battle. I must help her to win this battle, because it could be a milestone. She will encounter more language problems, but I wish that she would still have the courage to tell whoever that she is right, if it is.


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