Cognitive development: pics and puns!

It’s been a long time since I used this blog to publicly marvel at the kid’s development, but this one’s too good to let pass unremarked-on.

In his preschool they’ve been working on drawing, and on writing letters and numerals; we’ve been working on reading and writing in Japanese (mostly hiragana) at home. He’s also picked up a little bit of kanji recognition, at least enough to notice and point out the character 雨 (ame, “rain”) without prompting.

(Tangential comment: It’s interesting comparing the various writing systems in the context of literacy education. Hiragana are ubiquitous in Japanese writing and thus both important and relatively easy to teach, but several of them are difficult to distinguish on the page – は and ほ, for example, or れ, ね, and わ – and a significant number of them are challenging to write – such as む or ぬ.

Katakana, meanwhile, are much easier to read and write, but not so commonly used, and thus less important and more difficult to teach. Kanji are arguably the part of Japanese that is hardest, and takes longest, to learn, but they’re also vital to any degree of literacy beyond Kindergarten level.

On the other side of the ocean, the Latin alphabet is a mess. Each individual character isn’t too hard to learn or write, but in contrast to the one-reading-per-character ease of kana, English spelling is a nightmare that (similar to advanced kanji usage in Japan) can be difficult even for highly-educated adults if they encounter an unfamiliar word.

In brief – trying to teach all of these to full literacy is, and will continue to be, a fascinating adventure!)

Where was I? Oh yeah, the kid’s artistic development. Since the start of summer vacation he’s been producing drawings at an accelerated rate. Common topics: the family, his friends, dinosaurs, monsters, trains, and rainbows. Often pictures include written captions or comments, such as a recent picture of him and me playing hide-and-seek, complete with numbers 1-20 and the traditional call-and-response もういいかい? -もういいよ! (Mou ii kai? -Mou ii yo!, “Are you ready yet?” – “Yes I am!”)

The thing that tickled me the most of late was a minor inclusion; he wrote ち9 on one picture. This is meaningless in and of itself, but it’s pronounced chi-kyuu… and chikyuu is how you pronounce 地球, the earth. And this is no coincidence: he told me explicitly that his goal in writing ち9 was this play on words.

I guess that’s all I wanted to say. The kid has learned the art of the pun, and I’m looking forward to what he comes up with next.

8^)

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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