“I want bouche Mommy”. “Mommy fache?” “I range my room all myself!”. This is pretty common language in our French-English speaking household. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? As a French teacher, I know that language learning takes work, practice and effort and it is not something that just happens overnight. But the mother part of me always felt like French would just run through their veins and they would magically speak French because I thought so. The reality is, they don’t.
The other day I asked my daughter to show me birds (des oiseaux) in her book during story time. She didn’t know what an “oiseau” was. I asked her the same in English and it took her half a second. I came to the realization that some work needed done. In fact, if I am honest with myself, I will say that I know that I am not doing enough for them to actually speak and understand more French. I am very good at giving directions in French though. Put your shoes on / your coat on / go pee etc are very well-understood
This year, I have decided to shift my approach and be more proactive in passing on my language onto the girls. I find it easier with the little one because she is always asking: “what’s that?”, “what’s that” and I just have to answer in French and she’ll repeat. Sixtine on the other hand seems a bit perplexed at times.
Here are some of the things I have in mind to increase French exposure, understanding, and speaking:
- talk on the phone with family and friends
- listen to more French music
- speak more (this one is for me)
- ( her Montessori school provides a weekly themed-French lesson )
- engage in French community activities more often (library, pool, apple picking…)
- and of course, READ more in French.
While I am there, I would like to tell you about a wonderful book series I have come across. It is called THE ZAZOO and Sixtine is completely in love with her Paris book as you can see on the pictures. She takes it everywhere she goes. What I like about this book is that she recognizes places she has seen and visited in the past. She is especially found of the merry-go-round that is located by the Eiffel Tower and wouldn’t turn the page for a while. She always goes back to this page to talk about how she rode it and which color was her favorite etc… I also think that the two languages mingling are reassuring and helpful. It makes bilingualism feel normal and natural to them. You can read about the method on her website – it is very well explained in four principles. Judith Masini, the author, is a French woman living in London and she also caters to school and other educational facilities. She aims to promote French-English bilingualism to kids aged 2-7. The books are themed (what to wear, the beach…etc) and offer vocabulary pages – another great thing is the audio feature, as well as the activity books. The books and packages are available for purchase worldwide – she accepts $US, $AUS, $CAD, British pounds, Euros and Swiss Franc.
What I truly love about these books is that they are positive language learning tools. They will encourage your child to learn in a fun way and feel special and proud about their magic power!
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Are you bilingual family? I would love to hear tips and success stories! I know it is never too late but sometimes I wonder…