we have a kid at work who just hasn't talked this year. she started a term late because her family was back home in china for a couple months and when she started her dad said he though she had kind of forgotten her english since she hadn't used it in a long time. the second week she said a couple things to us (even was a little bit cheeky just like her big sister was when we had her a couple years ago) but then just stopped talking to us (both staff and other children). she'd get her point across when she needed to but wouldn't speak. her family said she was speaking both english and mandarin at home all the time. we would hear her singing along with the group when we did songs but she would never speak. another child told me one day that she played with her when she saw her at the park and she spoke then and and asked why she wouldn't speak at kinder.
i was quite like her as a child. people who tried to make me speak or speak louder just made me do the opposite (i was a bit of a spiteful child i guess) so i figured it's best not to push her or make a big deal out of it.
yesterday morning i walked into work and my co-worker stated that the child had been talking to our new placement student all morning (who just happens to be chinese). i assumed my co-worker meant she was speaking chinese to her. she wasn't. she was speaking english!!! later in the morning the student told the child to come show me a drawing she'd done. when she walked up to me i asked her what it was (it was a very obvious drawing of a house) and the child just said in plain english "a house". i had to try not to act shocked that this was the first time she'd spoken to me in months so i just asked her if she wrote her own name on it (which she had and i didn't even know she knew how to write her name). she continued to talk to us and other children all afternoon (even after the placement student left) and it was so cool to hear her voice (and the funny little things she'd say, much to the surprise of all the children around her).
today she started coming up to teachers and telling us things (like that she has play dough at home and in lots of different colours) and when she left she just kept singing the word "bye" to me and her dad was beaming that his child was finally talking to us all.
i think the fact that we didn't make a big deal of it (at least not in front of her, we've been chatting and laughing about it in the staff room a lot) made it easy for her just to keep talking once she started and not feel like we were really focused on it.