Speaking Amharic (Attempt 1)
Some good friends (we think) of ours anonymously ordered us beanbags with Amharic numbers and colors to help with the girls' retention of their language. (By the way, there's a great kid's Amharic book on this site too.)
Kailey and I cracked the beanbags out and lined them up. We began counting from 1-10 in Amharic thinking it would spark Neti and Meke's interest. We expected that they'd come over and help us count. They heard us very plainly but remained content to continue playing, almost determined not to hear (or to pretend they didn't hear).
I took a more direct approach. "Neti. Ahnd...Hoolet...Sost." ("one, two, three" in Amharic)
She looked up. Unmoved she went back to playing without interest. I sensed it was more than a lack of interest. Her body language spoke loudly. She was determined not to engage in this conversation at all.
I pressed a little more to see what would happen.
"Neti. Ahhhhnnnnd...Hoooooooletttt..." ("Onnnnnnnnne, Twwwwwwwooooooo...")
Nothing. They didn't finish the equation. They kept playing.
We've tried without success to engage them in their native language. We've repeatedly asked Neti "What's this in Ethiopia?" (pointing to something). The most common response is a shrug. A while back we put Neti on the phone with an Amharic speaking friend of a friend. Normally, she'll chatter away with anyone on the phone. The minute she heardAmharic on the other side she withdrew and wouldn't respond.
Not sure exactly what's going on. Maybe it's confusing for her to mix both languages. Maybe she associates bad experiences with the "old" language. Maybe she feels no need to use Amharic because everyone here speaks English. The ESL teacher at her school tells us it's normal for kids to reject their language for a period only to reengage later.
Meke's become a little more open to Amharic - as long as Neti's not around.