Saturday, 2 April 2011
RAISING BILINGUAL CHILDREN: Holiday
This photo is from our recent trip to CenterParcs - one of the UK ones, but we had so much fun we are going to try out the French CenterParcs next time! Housekeeping sweetly propped the children's books in front of their 'doudous' on their beds - you can see that Schmoo is reading 'Barbar' and Pan-Pan has one of the 'Editions Fleurus' books with photos of little plasticine objects.
We are now 2 terms into Schmoo's first year at the French school and couldn't be more pleased with her progress. I recently asked her teacher whether her French was up to the class standard (which, after all, is full of children either raised in the UK by French-speaking parents, or children just arrived from France) and she told me the language is not an issue at all :-) Despite Schmoo learning to read in English first and modelling her French reading on English (so she reads letter by letter, instead of syllable by syllable, and she might mispronounce words like 'part' in French that are said differently), she is coping very well with having all her schoolwork in French. One of the trickiest things has actually been maths, as in French the word for '70' literally translates as 'sixty and ten'. It gets more complicated with '80', literally 'Four twenties' and '90', which is 'Four twenties and ten'! I am struggling to help her, as I fumble with my own rusty maths and counting in French!
Meanwhile, Pan-Pan has joined the French nursery school that Schmoo went to for 3 years. It was a tricky transition, unrelated to any language issues, just the newness of school life after spending every waking moment till now with Maman, but coming up to Easter and he is finally (more or less!) happily going to school in the morning and coming out full of pride in his achievements. His French, which was frankly starting to die a death, has undergone a magnificent revival since starting in his immersion French class.
The funny thing is, the children at Pan-Pan's school tend to play in English together, so he seems to have got it into his head that you speak French with adults and English with children! He always talks to me in French now, a new habit, but with his sister it's almost always English. I asked Schmoo recently why she didn't talk more in French with Pan-Pan and she said, 'Well, he doesn't really talk French'! I think because his English is dominant, she just prefers to quickly chat with him in that language. Ah well, although I do love hearing their little conversations in French from time to time (and it ebbs and flows, sometimes they go through a phase of lots of French, no idea what the triggers are!), I do at least feel that both are now getting almost all the French they need from school. I am still talking French with Pan-Pan, though it's mainly English with Schmoo these days and it's great to finally be able to get on top of her English grammar and correct some of those 'ouch' mistakes! Even so, I do try not to underestimate the amount of French required in a non-French speaking country to raise my bilingual babes! So even with all the French input at school, I still try to bring as much French as I can into our home as well - so piano & violin lessons are in French, all TV and stories with mum remain in French, etc! Pin It now!