Finnish acquisition: 18 months
Here are a few moments in the process of Finnish acquisition for the girls (ages 8.5 and 11.5; 18 months in Finland).
Magdalena speaks and reads like a native. Writing (and all those unwieldy case endings!) is coming along. The best part is seeing her ability to express her personality and skills in Finnish now, too. A class of third- and fourth-graders visited the university on Tuesday and I was in charge of teaching a 30-minute English lesson to some of them. I asked the girls for ideas beforehand, and Magdalena whipped up a lesson plan in Finnish for me.
Miriam reached a huge milestone this week: she read a book in Finnish for fun! She is running out of books in the English section of the library downtown, so we knew this needed to happen soon. She was hesitant to take the plunge, though - she reads extremely quickly in English, and it was frustrating for her to have to slow down to read in a second language. We got to talking about it at church a few weeks ago and a friend of mine piped up and said she'd pay Miriam €2 if she read a book in Finnish! And that seemed to be just the push she needed. The book was called Ystäväni Uljas and it was about ponies. I am so thrilled with this development.
She is also reading the Kalevala in Finnish at school - it's Finland's epic poem. I got it for her in English from the library, but she said it's actually easier in Finnish. Maybe the same way Beowulf is easier to understand if your mind isn't confused by modern English? Or so I've heard.
And Miriam also volunteered yesterday that she likes certain words in Finnish better - specifically kestää (to take a certain amount of time) and määrä (amount of something, but appends to nouns easier than in English, so you can quickly say 'vesimäärä', amount of water, etc.).
And that's how Finnish is going!