Monday, 2 September 2013

Back on the blogging horse

Wow, has it really been nearly five months since I wrote anything here on my beloved blog. Seriously, I can't believe it. Life has been a total whirlwind with my feet very rarely touching the floor for long enough for me to keep on top of everyday life, let alone indulge in the luxury of writing a blog post.

The last few times I wrote, I was most definitely feeling unsure as to whether I wanted to carry on speaking French with Poppette and Little Man. Knowing we were due a family holiday to France this August, however, I told myself that I would be a fool to stop before then as I ought at the very least give my children the opportunity to explore what they know (and, of course, show me and hopefully nip all my fears in the bud) whilst totally immersed.

I was right to wait.

Whoever spoke to Poppette, in what ever environment, be it in the local supermarket or pharmacy, the ticket lady on the merry-go-round, our French friends, our next door neighbours, she understood and spoke back to them. It was a crazy feeling to realise that my daughter (who will be 3 years old in less then two month's time) really speaks French and that, had I not pushed myself through the doubting and spoken to to her in French all this time, we would have arrived on holiday and she would have understood 'rien'! Likewise, for Little Man (now 17 months old) who, although he still only has a few French words in his spoken vocabulary, clearly understands French when it is spoken to him.

The holiday was amazing on many levels - I mean, put me in France and watch me float - just being there makes me happy. But to watch my children just fall into being a part of it all. Wow! Watching them play in French with our friends' two little boys (who are French and also French/ English bilinguals) was just brilliant... The game un, deux, trois soleil for one really seems to have stuck with both Poppette and Little Man who still cover their eyes every time they hear the words. Also, our friends spoke only French with my little ones which was priceless.

One day whilst in France, Poppette came to me and said "Maman, je veux manger" [Mummy, I would like something to eat] - until that point, she had always said "Maman, I want manger" so, in my eyes this was a huuuuge step..... the minority language immersion environment helped push the majority language out.

She's gone right back to saying "Maman, I want manger", now were home, but at least I know now that there are words in her head just waiting for the right opportunity to come back out and that this will be just the same with Little Man.

It's back to that old chestnut of just having faith. Believe it will work and it will. Keep working towards your goal. It's not always easy (far from it, at times, to be honest!!) but.... well, the proof is in the pudding.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

June's Multilingual Blogging Carnival

Leanne over at All Done Monkey is hosting this month's raising multilingual children blogging carnival. The theme is all about multilingualism and travel and there are stacks of really interesting and informative posts.

Highly recommended reading!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Project Life: Capturing the Everyday

I've just discivered Project Life and I'm hooked!

For those of you who have not yet heard of Project Life, it's an idea originally created by Becky Higgins as a way to record your memories (both big and small) without the commitment often required to keep detailed journals or scrapbooks. It encourages you to print off the millions of photos that otherwise stay hidden on your hard drive or in your iPhone and to slip them into a book where you can peak at them whenever the desire takes you.

I can hear some of you saying, well, isn't that what a photo album is for?

Well, yes and no. Project Life encourages you to add notes and ephemera to build more than just a photographic memory.

Take a look at these blogs where seasoned Project Lifers can tell you (better than me) how it's done.

A Vegas Girl At Heart

Ali Edwards

Elise Blaha

Cathy Zielske

Rukristin Papercrafts (this post has links to over 100 Project Life resources broken down into the following categories: manufacturers, bloggers, organisation, challenges, free printables, miscellany and digital)

Anyway, the relevance of this to you guys is that I think Project Life is a great way to record language development and sound bites. All of those cute little phrases that come out of your children's mouths day after day. If you're like me, you scribble lots of them down but, most of them don't end up anywhere useful and will get lost in time.

I've been trying for half an hour to upload a photo of some examples of what i've been putting in my album so far but let's just say, it ain't working and i've given up before I throw my computer out of the window!

Two weeks in and I know already that this is the perfect way for me to document our life and build our memories ... and, believe me, it's not like I have the time to take on anything life is one long to do list right now but, I'm squeezing it in where I can. It has already spurred me on to take photos of the 'little stuff' and to be more proactive in printing them off and it has made me think more about the tiny things that I don't want to forget. The things that build a picture of who we are but often get overshadowed by the bigger bits of life.

If i'm totally honest it has also allowed me to indulge in two other of my great life passions : Internet surfing (looking for freebie printables) and shopping (afterall, who can live without a corner cutter and a date stamp?).

I'd love to know if any of you guys are already doing Project Life or something similar, or if you are thinking about it.

P.S. Here's a link to my Project Life Pinterest board where I have collected lots of great free printable journalling cards etc

P.P.S The only place in the UK I have found so far that you can source Project Life stuff from is the Scrapbookers Inner Circle website. Although there are several other companies selling similar products.

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.