Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Multilingual expat kids and the value of Disney

with one comment

DD and I were chatting the other day with one of DD’s Jordanian friends. With parents who were educated in the UK, DD’s friend is fully bilingual, speaking both English and Arabic with her parents.

We had a fun chat about which language she speaks to which parent, which language she dreams in, how she chooses which language she’s going to speak in when she’s with her family and so on. DD, who’s not bilingual in any way, shape or form, found it fascinating.

“So she’s a fluent Arabic speaker?” she asked, in awe of her clever, eight-year-old friend. DD’s Arabic is very much school-grade.

“No,” I said. “She’s a native Arabic speaker – as well as a native English speaker.”

“And I’m only a native English speaker?” She sounded disappointed (sorry love).

So we chatted about the difference between “native” and “fluent”, and I could tell DD was impressed. But then the bilingual friend pulled another rabbit out of her already packed hat.

“I also speak Spanish,” she said, sliding into the car. “Sometimes that just slips out.” She rattled off a sentence in high-speed Spanish. It started with “Buenos dias, senorita”.

“Wow,” I said. “Where did you learn that?”

“Handy Manny,” she said, seriously. “I used to watch a lot of Disney Junior.”

Written by mrsdubai

November 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Cute story! I know a lot of people back home who speak Spanish (not native to them at all) who learned it when they were growing up because there were only two channels on the island back then – a Spanish one and an English one. I speak Spanish myself and am amazed on how fluent they can speak Spanish just from that exposure alone! Maybe I should start watching those Arabic soap operas to see if I can pick up the language. 🙂


    November 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

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