"This is carrots," said my mother, pointing to the word that might as well be Russian or Arabic for all I knew. "Carrots," she repeated, then told me what the word means in Chinese, my native tongue.
"Carrots," I said after her.
"Perfect." She pointed to another word in the thin picture book adorned with a yellow cover. The pictures showed a boy planting his own garden. "This is 'pineapples.'"