Intelligence is the by-product of experience from using knowledge upon the environment.
The day my daughter asked me what this Hokkien word， 好吗？ho bo？, meant in English, I was totally stunned. She was 7 years old at that time and could already speak four languages. Hokkien is the only dialect I do not use to speak to her. She told me she had heard my brother spoke those Hokkien words to me several times. I thought she was not listening all along!
I have finally come to accept that:
- she has been listening;
- she is interested;
- she has processed the sounds;
- she can visualise herself speaking those words before she even asks;
- she is capable of asking the right questions to complete the process of learning a new language; and
- she has become more sensitive to other languages.
It is a demonstration of resilience as opposed to intelligence. Intelligence is the by-product of experience from using knowledge upon the environment. When you say someone is intelligent, you are saying that the person has gained experience in a particular field of work or subject to be able to demonstrate to you how that experience can further enhance his way of life and other people’s way of life. You cannot put a punctuation mark anywhere when you discuss a topic with an intelligent person; he is forever building up knowledge based on past experience and applied knowledge.
What I learn from this experience is that the true value of knowledge lies in the child’s ability to engage with her environment whether at home or outside the house, using her natural potential. The parent is the facilitator between the child and her environment; the child still does ALL the work herself.
- It is not enough to communicate with the child; you have to socialise with her.
- It is not enough to listen to your child; you have to pay attention to what she has to say.
- It is not enough to play games with the child; you have to get engaged mentally, physically and emotionally.
The child is selfish and selfless at the same time. The child is selfish as she needs to internalise impressions from sounds, images and movements she gathers from the environment. The child is selfless as she readily dispenses knowledge at will, whether rightly or wrongly.
I am not suggesting all kids are the same in terms of picking up learning skills. There are children who will need longer time to develop the potential to gain this skill. But the child is well aware of her limitations. The outcomes of their learning journey are clearly demonstrated during games, tests, writing scripts and social interactions.
When a child fails to produce good results, it is but a demonstration of her/his inability to engage with her/his environment using her/his natural potential. To say that the child is not intelligent is daylight robbery of her/his personal dignity. Even the humblest of creatures can show signs of intelligence. (Maria Montessori, the Absorbent Mind.) As we all know it ourselves, there are many intelligent people who have admitted to having failed many times in life, love and education.
Trust me. It was never so easy for me to work with her in four languages, let alone switching from one language to another in a single conversation. There were times when I felt I was doing all the talking and she seemed to be ignoring me, responding only in one or two sentences and using only one language.
I will be writing on how you can also help your child tackle more than one language or multiple languages with no loss in knowledge in other fields of interest. If you are interested to read about it, you can join my mailing list to receive the updates and how you can purchase it online when it is ready.
I wish you and your child every success in languages.