Thursday, 22 May 2014

Creating Opportunities for your Child's Language Development

I read an interesting article recently on a website called Playing With Words 365 which focussed on creating opportunities for your child to speak.

The main message is that we should wait... have a little patience... and let our children speak.

It's true to say that as parents, we often anticipate so many of our children's needs with the result being that they don't need to finish a sentence to get their needs met.

Reading this article opened my eyes quite a bit to that.

The article gives some useful and very simple tips such as moving things your child likes or needs a little out of their way or "accidentally" forgetting to do something like put their toys in the bath or zip up their coat so that they have to ask.

Most of the suggested tips are geared towards the very young child just learning to speak but the concepts can be easily translated to preschoolers and above. Really, the idea is about maximising the opportunity, space and time for dialogue during day to day life.

It just strikes me as a really simple idea that could have great benefits.

Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival

I'm a little late to the party, but here's a link to April's "Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival". April's theme is one I'm really keen to explore - how to teach mulitilingual children to read.

The carnival is being hosted by Adriana over at Homeschool Ways.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Poppette corrects Little Man's French

Poppette corrected Little Man's French last night.

I didn't know what to do first...(a) star jumps or (b) run for a pen and a scrap of paper before I forgot the details of their little exchange.

Guess what I went with lol

The conversation (which may lose a little in translation as the pronunciation is quite key here) went like this:

Little Man: "My chaussonzzz" (chaussons slippers) - in French the 'S' here is silent but Little Man went all English on us and pronounced the 'S' :-)

Poppette: "No, they're 'chaussons'"

(She did this with a silent 'S' and in a pefect little French accent)


One happy mama.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Maman, Le Monsieur Tond Le Gazon

Something Poppette (aged 3 ½) said to me recently spurred me on immensely. We were lounging around in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon when we heard the sudden roar of the neighbour’s lawnmower.

Maman” exclaimed Poppette “Le monsuier tond le gazon” (Mummy, the man is mowing the lawn). Seriously, this just ticks all the boxes. Not only had my daughter just spoken an entire, grammatically correct sentence to me in French but it was something so random and unexpected that it made me understand that she is just absorbing everything like a sponge.

Poppette’s language use at the moment can be summed up as being a real mix. She speaks English with English people, a mix of English and French with me and mainly English with Papa and Little Man with random bits of French thrown in. She very rarely uses full French sentences (although it appears that she can when she wants to). She comes out with things that surprise and impress me in equal measure.

I think the issue here is that I look at language acquisition from the perspective of a monolingual English speaker who learnt other languages through school etc and because of this, I have a subconscious sense that the words or grammatical structures I (and scores of my classmates) grappled with will also be tricky for her. This is not true. In reality, every French word is as easy or difficult as the next in the mind of a bilingual child or infant language learner. A word is just a word. A good example would be the fact that many English speakers struggle at first to differentiate between les chevaux (horses) and les cheveux (hair). Poppette proved to me that this is very much not the case for her recently as we drove past a field of horses and she exclaimed “Oh, des chevaux!” (oh, horses). She will never confuse the two. So the lesson here for me is that I need to stop projecting my weaknesses or concerns onto her and just continue to speak.

Little Man is also progressing in leaps and bounds. He has been a very chatty Little Man for a long time. By the age of 18 months he could put three (English) words together and has always had a really good understanding of the concepts of me and I etc which I think sometimes children don’t quite grasp at first. Now, at 25 months old, he chatters away quite merrily in both English and French although, in French he uses single words rather than sentences.

There are, in fact, some words that my children never say in English, at least, I’ve never heard them use the English word. Such as salon (living room), salle de jouets (play room), calîn (cuddle), essuie-tout (kitchen roll), linge (laundry), douche (shower) and serviette (towel). Also, there are a few terms that cause immense confusion when we have visitors... particularly the fact that Noddy is known as Oui-Oui (pronounced wee-wee in French) and he is Little Man’s favourite cartoon character... when Little Man wants the potty he tells us he wants to do a pipi.

So, I definitely feel things are moving along steadily in the right direction, DESPITE me having had the several wobbles over the past 12 months or so and DESPITE the fact that rather than speaking 100% French I speak more like 80% French with them right now and..... horror of horrors ..sometimes read books to them and sing to them in English too.

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.