Wednesday, 15 May 2013

No Mummy! Speak French!

I'm still really struggling with my own thoughts around carrying on with our bilingual endeavour. I'm pretty tired with all that's going on at work and at home so it doesn't leave huge amounts of time to sit and think all this through rationally! One thing I have decided though, is that I must keep going unless and until I decide to stop. By that I mean, it doesn't make sense to stop speaking French to my children whilst I grapple with whether or not to continue since, if I do plump for continuing, I will have wasted time and potentially confused my children into the bargain.

That said, I have let myself speak English on a few occasions with both children recently. Apart from the nagging pang of guilt that I am letting them and myself down, it actually feels pretty liberating!

However, Poppette (who is now 31 months old) really doesn't seem to like me speaking English with her.

In fact, she positively resists it.

On the few occasions over recent weeks where, for one reason or another, I have chosen to speak English with her she hasn't accepted it at all.

On one of those occasions, I needed to carefully explain to her why what she had done was wrong (as in why it was not good behaviour) and that she shouldn't do it again. I switched to English because of my own fears of not getting the message across right and not wanting to cock up the lesson for her.

Another time it was because she picked up an English language book at story time and, quite honestly, I just didn't have the energy to translate so I started reading in English.

This morning, it was because she asked me a question in English "What's that Mummy?" she said, pointing at a traffic sign. I had a blank... what on earth is traffic sign in French. eek... "It's a sign, baby", I said.

"Non, Maman! Parle en français" [No, Mummy! Speak French!] she demanded just as she had done on each previous occasion.

Obviously I'm pleased! I mean, even when she chooses to speak in English to me, she still wants and expects me to reply in French. I am rather astounded though.

I remember reading somewhere long ago, when I was first weighing up whether I dare embark on our non-native journey towards bilingualism, that bilingual children tend to identify people by the initial language they speak with them and can feel uncomfortable when that person changes language with them. I guess that in Poppette's mind, mummy equals French.

Friday, 10 May 2013

I've Hit a Big, Fat Brick Wall

Today I am not feeling very positive about speaking French with my children.

I have woken up questioning the whole thing.

It's really weird but I feel like I did way back in the early months when I started out speaking French to Poppette as a small baby.

Sometimes, I see mothers with children older than mine and I watch the interaction between them and listen to the things they chat about and the types of words they choose from their native language to have these discussions in.... and I wonder whether we will ever achieve that. Will I be able to teach my children about all the things I should teach them and all the extra things I want to teach them in my non-native language....Or not?

Should I speak English sometimes and what will the effect be? Interestingly, Poppette really pushes back if I try and speak English with her... (I will write a post about that later).

My two and a half year old daughter speaks French, my one year old son understands it and over the past two and a half years, we have built a mountain of French resources. This makes me feel that if I stop now everything will have been such a huge waste... but.... if it can't or won't work in the long term, is it better to cut and run?


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

He Really Does Understand

Please pinch me.

Little Man (13 months) had a big weekend this weekend. He moved into his group 1, forward facing car seat and into his own bedroom all in one day and then he showed me that I should stop panicking about whether he hears enough French and just have some faith.

We were in the laundry room and he picked up a sock and showed it to me. I said "C'est une des chausettes de Papa. Tu lui la donnes?" [It's one of Papa's socks, are you going to give it to him?]... He literally turned on his toes and toddled off to give Papa his sock.

My heart swelled.

My Little Man. He's been listening to me babbling to him in French, absorbing the francophone conversations between his sister and me and watching Dans le Jardin des Rêves, Trotro, Bali, Grabouillon, Sam le Pompier et al and storing it all up.

Well done Little Man.

I'm so proud of you!

Raising Multilingual Children Carnival - April 2013

I'm really excited to see that the first ever Raising Multilingual Children Carnival is out!

The original Blogging on Bilingualism Carnival has come to an end as its organiser Letizia Quaranta is so busy with other commitments. Thank you Letizia, it's been an amazing journey.

I want to say a huge thank you to Annabelle of the Piri Piri Lexicon for setting up this new carnival so that we can each get our monthly fix! It takes a huge amount of work and commitment to organise and administer something like this and so many of us get so much benefit out if it.

This first carnival is being hosted over at Multilingual focuses on 'lessons learned' and it's absolutely packed with great posts from our wonderful multilingual blogging community.


Friday, 3 May 2013

Language Mixing & Code Switching

Poppette is now 30.5 months old and, the more her language skills develop and the more able she is to speak in full sentences, I notice her substituting words from one language for another.

I can't honestly say what influences her choice as, often times, she knows the appropriate word in both of her languages.

The interesting thing for me is how she always manages to construct grammatically correct sentences even when mixing the two languages together.

I want to capture these so I can look back and smile, so I'm going to add them to my "Poppette & Little Man" page.

A couple of cute examples are:-

Pas go au lit [Je ne veux pas aller au lit]

Don't want it, go au lit. [Je ne veux pas aller au lit]

Ça va très fast [Ça va très vite]

Ça move [Ça bouge]

She also has some cute language quirks where she uses the structure from one language when speaking the other such as calling orange juice 'juice orange' [jus d'orange] or like this morning when she proudly announced "I make big sleep" [j'ai fais gros dodo] i.e. I had a big sleep!