"Hello, I speak German."
After a week in Australia, Finje had figured out, if she kicks off any conversation with this disclaimer she'll get on just fine. And it seems to be working for her. Within the first eight days of our holiday she has managed to hunt out a German waitress at our favourite restaurant, two German au pairs and a market trader keen to practise the language from her school days.
All that said, it does seem that our cunning plan appears to be showing some signs of success. It's tough love though. Thrown in at the deep end, Finje is afforded little empathy from the robust Aussie kids. Never known for reticence, Finje boldly ploughs into any group on any playground anywhere in the world. She is given short shrift from the children here though. I find myself having to concentrate on something else, like chucking another prawn on the barbie, in order to resist jumping in to translate for her. This time though, by George, I think she's got it! The penny has dropped and Finje has, at last, clicked that English and German are, in fact, two separate languages.
In fairness to the little people of Australia, once they realise she can understand them and reply using at least some words they recognise, they carry on regardless. And that's the thing about children isn't it? Actually, they couldn't give a flying fig. They might take a couple of moments to take in differences, but if you're up to playing tag or hunt the wallaby you're in the gang.
Watching from a distance, far enough away to render me impotent to assist, I watch the process, which seldom varies. It involves Finje's victim of choice first looking at her as if she were an alien from outer space. Shortly followed by a glance up to check the parents are within hollering distance should things get weird. Within around seven minutes they are best friends communicating with no difficulties whatsoever. It is a sight to behold.
Finje's English is improving dramatically and at speed which needless to say pleases me immensely. I have to wonder though if we leave behind us a trail of destruction. As we left yet another playground and yet another new best friend yesterday, the little Aussie chap protested,
"Oh not yet, I want with Finje to play some more."
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