Tuesday, 6 December 2011
It's a good thing for us all to remember that bilingualism is a fabulous thing but only if it does not come at the expense of relationships and harmony within ones family unit.
To this end (keeping things light and fun) our home at the moment is filled with music and stories. Poppette is really loving listening to music right now and always points at the stereo insistently whenever it isn't on. We have been stocking up on fabulous music CD's, story CD's and books. Some of the most recent and highly recommended ones are:-
50 Histoires à lire en turbulette a great set of stories and rhymes for young children with gorgeous illustrations.
Contemimes a CD with music and short songs for young children. The music here is really lively and so so different from any other CD we own. Very original and a wealth of great vocab for young ones to learn whilst having fun. This CD comes with a book with the song lyrics in and suggested hand mimes to do along to the songs.
Coco et les bulles de savon a short story book with illustrations accompanied by a CD with a spoken version of the story set to music and real sounds (such as the bath running at the appropriate point in the story). Coco is a cheeky little monkey who gets himself into all sorts of scrapes. There is a whole series of Coco CD/book combos available and we will definitely be increasing our collection.
If anyone has any suggestions of other fun books or CD's do let me know.
Ooh that reminds me - Maria over at Busy as a bee in Paris posted a link to another blog (The Inspiration Thief) which also took me to another blog (Oopsey Daisy) with a great idea for Christmas Book Advent Calendars. It’s a little late for me to sort for this year but it will be at the top of my 'To Do List' for next Christmas. The idea is that you get 24 Christmas themed books (or maybe mix it up with an activity or a project) and wrap them up for your little one(s) to open each day until Christmas... the opportunities this would open up for having fun in the minority language seem limitless.... Joyeux Noël everyone.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Although she is not currently saying much (although she does chatter away in her own little Poppette langauge quite merrily), she understands and reacts to more and more every day, showing us that she is soaking up the language around her.
By way of an aside, I have found what promises to be a useful website called 0-5.com http://www.0-5ans.com/menu_Accueil.html - it has a wealth of interesting games, recipes, nursery ryhme words and much, much more in French for the 0-5 age group.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Three days ago mum and I were sat playing with Poppette. She had been playing with her bilingual games cube. Suddenly, it chimed out 'au revoir', which it does whenever you don't press any of its buttons for a while. I immediately repeated the words. Then, to our total astonishment, so did Poppette!!!! I kid you not. Now, I don't actually think at this stage that she knows the word or the context in which to use it. I think she was definately just mimicking the sounds. For that reason, it doesn't make it onto our language development log just yet. But still, what a fabulous, fabulous achievement for my little one year old girl.
A French-speaking, English friend came to stay last week. She was amazed to see Poppette's response to me speaking to her in French. She commented that Poppette clearly understands a lot and responds accordingly. Like me, I think the fact that it is French that Poppette is responding to is what amazed my friend and that had the same interactions occured in English it would have almost gone by unnoticed.
It was great for me to have some honest third party thoughts on the situation.
A few examples of what Poppette understands are :-
'Tu veux manger?' (Do you want something to eat?) - to which Poppette will either say 'Ouais' (yeah) and point to her highchair, or simply shake her head to communicate 'no'.
Tu veux boire? (Do you want something to drink) - again Poppette will either say 'Ouais' or shake her head.
Va chercher Doudou! (Go get Doudou) - and off she goes :-)
Passe-moi tes cubes! (Pass me your building blocks) - which she does one by one until they are all back in the bag.
Viens! (Come on/ Come here) - whether she obliges or not definately depends on her mood :-)
Stop! Ditto ;-)
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
The club had originally been set up by a group of francophone parents who wanted their children to be able to play and learn in French alongside other French speaking children. It has grown and grown and now offers a playgroup for the babies and younger children and a structured school setting for children aged from 4 upwards. Here children, who are schooled in the English school system during the week, are able to learn to read and write in French.
I am so happy to have found the school. My only regret is that it is not closer to home. With a drive of anywhere between an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half each way dependent upon traffic, it is quite commitment. That said, it is well worth it.
So... first impressions. Well, Papa and I were impressed. The playgroup kicked off with all the parents taking it in turns to introduce themselves and their child(ren). I have to say, I had been nervous for the whole drive over and sitting there waiting for my turn to speak up I could feel the butterflies in my tummy. My French friend who we had gone along with (her son is one month younger than Poppette), gave me a wink to help quell my nerves. Some of the parents seemed a little surprised that both Papa and I were English and had taken on such a gargantuan task as to bring up our baby bilingual, but there was none of the negativity I had feared. All of the other families had at least one French native as a part of the parental mix.
Talking to some of the parents, it was really clear that even for a native speaker, there can still be many bumps in the road when trying to raise your child to speak a minority language in a majority language country.
After the introductions we sang loads of Comptines (nursery rhymes). I surprised myself by knowing far more of the words than I would have previously given myself credit for. It seems that the never ending stream of CD's and books are paying off...
Following the nursery rhyme session the babies all played together with toys whilst their parents chatted and sipped coffee. The older children all participated in an adult led activity - making masks. It looked great fun.
Before attending the playgroup, the question Papa and I had been asking ourselves was just how much Poppette would get out of it attending at her current age. Well, I don't think that the benefits of group play and seeing different faces and scenery can be underestimated, but she may not get any real language benefit for a few months yet.
Poppette herself voted with her feet.... or more accurately, her eyelids which were firmly shut as soon as the nursery rhymes had finished and remained so for the next hour and a half until the playgroup session ended...
That said, I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time in an environment where both children and adults were chattering away in French and am really pleased to say that I was fully accepted into the fold. It really does seem that my fears that people think we are odd for speaking French to our English daughter is more of a figment of my imagination than a reality and that actually people think that it’s really something quite admirable.
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
As a mother who has chosen to speak French only (ok...ok.. I'm not going to paint myself as the saint that I clearly am not.... so I will rephrase that ..) - As a mother who has chosen to speak French as consistently as possible to my daughter, I naturally have a vested interest in her French language development. Recently, I have been over the moon to watch her responding to more and more words and phrases. She now actually comes to me when I say "Viens!" (Come here!). It's amazing to watch a child's development and to witness the wonders of the human brain. How a brain comes to process and understand the spoken word is mind boggling whatever language is in play. However, I can't help being that little bit more excited about the fact that my 11 month old English daughter is more than capable of responding to a command/ request spoken to her in French.
So... when I went to collect Poppette from nursery last week, I couldn't help feeling a little bit protective towards her French language skills when the nursery nurse told me that she had been saying 'Ta' all day long, on each occasion that someone had passed something to her. I was surprised as 'Ta' is not a word that Papa or I ever use - clearly Poppette has learnt this word from her time in nursery. Argh... she has only been there a month and already they are filling her head with English... help...
Seriously, I am now starting to realise that I am going to have to talk, talk and talk some more at every given opportunity if French is to be given even a fighting chance. Five days a week in nursery are clearly going to lead to English immersion. Where's the balance in that :-(
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Poppette understands French!!!!
I have no idea why I am so suprised - afterall, I have been speaking French to her since she was around 3 months old (so for the past 8 months of her life). Still, it was such a shock when I first realised.
Without doubt she understands the following:
"Il est où, Doudou" - (where's Doudou (her little lamb comforter)) - when I ask her this question, she looks all over until she can see him then crawls over to wherever he happens to be and grabs him. So now we often play a game where I show here Doudou, then put him in a box or behind a toy or something, then I ask where he is and she sets of to retrieve him. Brilliant!!!
"Elle est où, la lumière" - (where's the light) - when I ask her this she looks straight up to the light fitting in whichever room we happen to be in and holds her hand up towards it.
I'm also pretty sure she understands "encore" (more) and "fini" (finished).
Actually, in my more excitable moments I sometimes wonder if I might have just heard her say "ouais" (yeah) but then I am not sure that this is really possible at the tender age of 11 months....
Thursday, 28 July 2011
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Over the past few weeks I have been grappling with the worry that my language skills may not keep up with the ever evolving needs of Poppette. Of course, I know that it's a moving feast and as time goes by I will, with the right effort and determination, pick up more and more appropriate vocabulary and turns of phrase. But really.... that commitment seems huge... especially in the dark hours of the early morning when I should be sleeping but my brain won't allow it! It's the seemingly little things that monolingual and native-speaking parents won't ever need to give a second thought to that create such potential minefields for a non-native ... such as making Halloween masks, baking cupcakes, making friendship bracelets....
At this stage... all I can do is panic! My common sense tells me that I just need to buy some French crafting and activity books and look out for DVD's in the same vein as Disney's Art Attack (but en français) and learn from them. It's a daunting prospect though... trying to keep one step ahead at all times.
I know that attending the French Saturday school we have found will really help; or at least I hope so. This is a place where Poppette can play with other children in French and I can mix with French and Francophone mums... both of us absorbing more and more language. School is now out for summer though and I await September term with real anticipation.
I read an interesting letter on the pages of InCultureParent Magazine yesterday which reinforced the validity of my concerns. The non-native (OPOL) Maman in question had written for advice as to whether she should give up speaking Spanish to her 3 year old son as it is becoming exhausting. She makes a really solid point in that, although she is fluent in Spanish, with the best will in the world it is still her second language and her level when compared with a highly educated native speaking Spaniard is ‘rudimentary’; the result being that her son is nowhere near as eloquent in Spanish as he is in English. The expert's response was reassuring, namely: - 'Bravo for how far you have come on your own so far' and 'Now it's time to get some help!'
If any one has any experience or advice about how (or how not) to proceed, or any resource suggestions, then please do either leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, 20 June 2011
I have hunted high and low for this book. It is out of print and sells for a king's ransom. I thought all my Christmases had come at once when the local librarian found a copy on the library catalogue... only to see his crest fallen face moments later when he realised it had been nicked six years ago.
Oh well... King's ransom or not... I just have to read this book.
It arrived this morning. I can see me not getting much sleep this week as I try to cram all 258 pages in during Poppette's downtime.
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
We already had a head start in that Poppette has a small bee with a very similar name - Poppette's bee is named Mireille after the character in her book by Antoon Krings - Mireille L'abeille. She also has a beloved little bear whom I have affectionally named Nounours (Teddybear). So, out came the two cute little soft toys and I set about learning the little story set out at activity 244 by heart...
Elle est jaune et noir
Elle aime le soleil, les fleurs et le miel.
Un jour sur sa route, elle croise un gros ours
Qui veut lui voler son beau pot doré.
Hors de ma vue, compère Ours!
Si tu voles mon déjeuner,
Je serai obligée de te piquer le nez!
Do you know Mireille?
She is yellow and black
She loves the sunshine, flowers and honey.
One day when she is out and about she bumps into a big bear
who wants to steal her golden pot.
Out of my way, Dear Bear!
If you steal my lunch,
I will have to sting you on the nose!)
What a gorgeous little story.
Bees aside, the other buzz of the day - Poppette made two more sounds! Almost a month to the day that she first said "Dada", this morning she added "mamama" and "nanana" to her repertoire. Although I am aware that these are just sounds and not actual words that Poppette is linking to people as yet, I would be fibbing if I said I didn't feel a tingle of excitement down my spine when she said "mamama" and I know that when Nanny hears her say "nanana" she will be hard pressed not to feel the same...
Friday, 10 June 2011
This is the reason for my constant (often inane) blathering.
It dawned on me today that, if anyone were to overhear the incessant monologue I direct towards my darling daughter, they would more than likely mistake me for a crazy person :-)
I mean, in reality, there are only a certain amount of things you can usefully say to a baby... "Come on darling, let's go change your nappy." etc so I took the decision not only to narrate to Poppette what I or we are doing but to try and play games which can be verbalised such as today's game of hide and seek with Madame La Grenouille (Mrs Frog)... "Allez Poppette, tu veux jouer à cache-cache? C'est moi qui compte... un, deux, trois" (Hey Poppette, do you want to play hide and seek? I'll count... one, two, three"). The amount of words you can get into a game like this is unbelieveable... "Où est-ce qu'elle se cache la Poppette? Est-ce qu'elle est dans le frigo...non. Est-ce qu'elle est sous son lit?... non"... (Where is Poppette hiding? Is she in the fridge... no. Is she under her bed?...no.) You get the idea.
Sometimes I catch her looking at me with the most bemused look on her face. She clearly knows I'm talking rubbish!!!
Thursday, 2 June 2011
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
It is at this playgroup that we met Le Chat Français. He is one of the many life-like puppets that the host of the playgroup brings along from time to time. At other times there may a dog, a camel, even a spider... but none of these other puppets claims to hail from foreign lands.
I was over the moon when we were introduced to Le Chat Français as making his aquaintance was most unexpected at a playgroup for English children.
Each time Le Chat makes an appearance, the host plays her favourite French song which is called 'Les Oignons' (onions)...I have never heard of this song and neither have any of my French friends. It is very wordy and rather fast - certainly not a song who's words could be easily understood and repeated by youngsters.
So... I have offered to give some of my music to the group's host to bolster Le Chat's repertoire. My hopes are twofold - a) as Poppette gets older, she will be able to sit and sing these songs along with the other children which will be great fun for her - she may even have fun helping them learn the words and b) the other children will find these songs fun and want to join in.
It strikes me that if we start with something like 'tête, épaules, genoux et pieds' (head, shoulders, knees and toes) we can't go far wrong. It is sung to the exact same tune as the English version and it will be relatively easy for the children to pick up these new words and then go home and show off to their friends and family. They will be language learning without even really noticing.... and surely that's the best way of all to learn.
Saturday, 21 May 2011
Yesterday I found him in the guise of Monsieur L'Hibou (Mr Owl). He's totally adorable and thankfully Poppette seems quite taken with him (I would run out of fingers if I tried to count how many times I have bought her what I think is the cutest soft toy on the planet only for her to pick up an empty Evian bottle and play with that instead!).
So, the plan is that, as Poppette grows and interacts more with her toys, she will (hopefully) always interact with Monsieur L'Hibou en français. For now, I will start to bring that alive for her by singing Dans La Forêt Prochaine with her whenever we play with him. It's a really cute song, whose lyrics are as follows:-
Dans la forêt prochaine,
On entend le coucou.
Du haut de son vieux chêne,
Il répond au hibou.
Coucou hibou, coucou hibou,
Coucou hibou, coucou.
A rough but not nearly as poetic translation would be:-
'In the nearby forest you can hear the cuckoo sing.
From high up in the old oak tree he is responding to the call of the owl.
"Hi there Owl", "hi there Owl", "hi there Owl", "hi".'
This version on YouTube is slightly different to the one on Poppette's nursery rhyme album (Toutes Mes Chansons Préférées) but the tune is the same.
I have also been thinking of creating un coin français which was suggested to me by another blogger...an area in our apartment where only French can be spoken.... even by Papa or friends and family. . . . I think that could be really good fun for everyone.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Hmmm. Well this is an interesting one. As I understand it, from a linguistic point of view this is one of the easier sounds to master and very often a baby's first sound. I do wonder though whether this holds true world over or just with Anglophone children. If anyone knows, please do drop me a line.
Now Poppette definately hears the words Papa and Daddy more than Maman and Mummy simply because whilst Papa is away on business mid-week I talk about him lots and we skype every night... and, as I switch on the computer to Skype, I always say ''Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy''...... I'm not sure why, since the rest of the time I definately refer to him as Papa.
Anyhow... this is not a competition, right? I am more intruiged by the linguistics behind this chosen word/ sound and whether Poppette's next one will be Francophone in nature - bearing in mind she definately hears more French than English right now.
If anyone has any information or experience on what sounds Francophone children tend to commence their speech with (or indeed any other nationality), I would be really really interested to hear from you.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Common wisdom has it that babies thrive on routine and that the constant repetition of actions in the same order each night before bed might just make a baby catch on to the fact that they are supposed to go to sleep at the end....
Apparently, until the routine is etched into your baby's head, you should also make sure you read them the same story each night. For this part of our routine we have a great book which I can't recommend enough. It's called Au Dodo Les Animaux [C'mon animals it's time for bed ] and is a soft cloth book with a furry cover. The book is entirely in black and white and has pages which crinkle and little flaps on each page for your baby to lift up.
The story basically takes you through a young child's bedtime routine with each animal doing a particular activity e.g. getting undressed, putting on pyjamas, brushing their teeth, having a glass of water, having a story etc Each page has a short sentence on it which rhymes e.g. "Petit éléphant se brosse bien les dents" [Little elephant gives his teeth a good clean].
Poppette really seems to enjoy this story (or at least crinkling and chewing the pages) which ends with all the animals in one big bed and the line "Au dodo les animaux" and of course we always add "Au dodo Poppette".
She seems to be catching on - touch wood.
Monday, 9 May 2011
I will keep adding to it over time.
As always, if anyone has any suggested additions or amendments, please do let me know either by posting a comment or emailing me at email@example.com
Saturday, 7 May 2011
Sometimes I just drop lucky when searching online. Today was one of those days. I found this page of words used by french children on fr.wiktionary.org.
I have noticed that someone has created a Spanish guide (downloadable from the Internet) to children's language for English speakers wishing to teach Spanish to their children. If only someone would do the same in French. I would be first in the queue to buy it!
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
This is the first time I have contributed an article and I am really excited to have done so.
As always, there are loads of interesting stories and perspectives to muse over. If you're interested, click here.
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
1) find or set up a French playgroup; and
2) arrange a language swap i.e. find someone who wants to learn, practice or improve their English and help them in exchange for them doing likewise for me.
So far, the issue of the playgroup has been a little frustrating. I had several people contact me initially only to vanish into thin air. This could definitely take a whole lot of effort and patience on my part if it's ever going to happen. Good job i started thinking about it now whilst Poppette is still so young.
The language swap has been a whole different kettle of fish. I had started to think this was a non-starter when, three months after placing my ad, the only approach I had had was from some guy living in a different city who wanted to get to know me better via webcam . . . Hmmm
Then out of the blue I received an email from a woman wanting to know if i was still looking for a language swap. We met last week and I feel like I have won the language swap lottery. Not only have I found a swap but I think I may also have found a new friend. We got on instantly and she loved Poppette too ( naturally :-) ).
Monday, 18 April 2011
A happy moment came during the picnic when one of the French women in the group asked me if I was French. She was surprised when I said no because she said that I don't have an English accent when I speak French. My initial reaction when people say this to me is to feel as though they are trying to be nice to me but then Papa is always at pains to say that people wouldn't keep saying it if it weren't true and that I should take it as the compliment it is meant to be.
I know he is right. It's just crazy how it seems to be human nature to believe the negative stuff and question the compliments.
So, I will take the compliment and put it in my imaginary box marked "Reasons Poppette and I Continue to Speak French with Each Other".
I will have a rummage around in that box to see what else is hiding in there for a post sometime soon. . .. and I promise an update on 'Immersion Week' too.
Friday, 15 April 2011
Poppette and I just bumped into my old French tutor. He was always a grumpy old so and so but, despite my better judgement, my eagerness to speak French whenever the opportunity presents itself got the better of me.
After the usual pleasantries and Monsieur Grumpy's offering of congratulations in respect of Poppette's arrival, I found myself telling him about our bilingual aspirations. Even as the words tripped off my tongue I felt myself wincing at my inability to keep my mouth shut.
Sure enough, instead of the kind words of encouragement I craved, I heard a firm "it's not all about the language you know, the culture is very important".
Bah humbug. So despite my recent resolution to stop explaining myself to people and just get on with living my life the way I choose, I found myself telling him of the ways we intend to promote Poppette's knowledge of French culture before we move to France.
The good thing to come out of this conversation is, however, that, rather than making me doubt myself, it has fired me up to carry on just to give him the proverbial poke in the eye!
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Click here to see the list.
I have had Skyrock blaring out for a few days now... it takes me right back to the days when I was living the other side of the channel and that was my radio station of choice.
Also.. the March issue of the Bilingual Blogging Carnival has been released. There are some great articles as always. For those of you who are not familiar with the Carnival, I can recommend it wholeheartedly. It is full of inspirational stories and tips from bilingual and multilingual families the world over.
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Translation : When speaking your mother tongue, words come without you even having to think about it. When speaking a second language, sometimes the words come slower and sometimes they don’t come at all.
Monday, 21 March 2011
The article is entitled "Who says you can't raise your children bilingually?". Here's a link to the article.
The article comments on four misconceptions that often put a parent off from taking the bilingual plunge, namely:-
(1) the all or nothing belief i.e. the fear that if you don't speak the target language 100% of the time your child cannot possibly become bilingual (false - just decide what you are comfortable with and go with it);
(2) the fluency belief i.e. the fear that your own fluency isn't quite up to the job (false - make a commitment to improve on the job and you will be fine);
(3) the fear that people are going to laugh at you (they might but so what); and
(4) the fear that you won't be able to do it forever (take it a day at a time).
The article also comments on the fact that the phrase "I am raising my children to be bilingual" may well overwhelm a parent and lead them not to continue. A sensible suggestion is made that, if the term "raising" frightens you, then you ought to simply use a different term that you can be more comfortable with.
If anyone out there is feeling these fears and has not yet read the article, I encourage you to do so.
Monday, 14 March 2011
I was reading a post by fellow non-native parent and blogger, Tamara Staton who, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is mother to Kaya and speaks to her in German (Tamara's second language). The post (dated 9th March) which you can read here gave me a real boost.
It is always great to hear a positive story on a day when you yourself are not feeling at your most positive. Hearing that, at only 2 years of age, Kaya is speaking 80-90% German with her non-German mum is confirmation that this endeavour can bear fruit.
In addition to this success story, Tamara posted a link to details of another successful non-native endeavour - that of Douglas Hofstadter and his family. Mr Hofstadter is an American who successfully raised his two children in Italian. You can read more about that here.
The Hofstadter's story is one that non-native bilingual dreams are made of. Mr Hofstadter made a commitment to speaking his second language to his children (apart from in certain limited situations) even though he realised this would mean his children may well miss out on certain nuances of his personality. Through a combination of that commitment, a couple of year long sabbaticals in Italy and the use (for a time) of Italian au-pairs, his children (now aged 19 and 22) not only continue to speak Italian with their father but between themselves as well! Fancy that - two American born children, living in America and speaking Italian to each other out of choice. Fabulous.
Saturday, 12 March 2011
Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Les Cinq Petits Cochons (The Five Little Pigs)
Cinq petits cochons tout roses et tout ronds
Celui-ci reste à la maison
Celui-ci va faire le marché
Celui-ci mange tout
Celui-ci ne dit rien
Et celui-ci pleure tout le long du chemin.
This is another rhyme so close to the English version I grew up with that it has easily cemented into my head.
Today at playgroup Incy Wincy Spider was sung in both English and Spanish. I could have piped up with the French version given that it trips off my tongue hundreds of times a day when Popette and I are alone. But...... I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I kept quiet and no-one knew my little secret - that I am the Araignée Gypsie Queen.
Maybe next time.
Monday, 28 February 2011
I have also scratched my head as to what a French 'squeak' might sound like or a French 'splash' or how one would talk about blowing raspberries etc The answer :- 'squeak squeak' is 'pouet pouet', 'splash' is 'plouf' and the French don't talk about blowing raspberries - they just make the noise...not a framboise in sight.
There is no other solution here than to try my best to fill that gap and that's what I have been doing, diligently, since this adventure began. There are so many resources out there (TV, radio, books, the Internet, friends, magazines) and I have found it has simply been a case of working through as many of them as possible. I have started a list on the side bar to the right of this post entitled "French Language Resources" where I have begun to upload details of books and CD's I have found to contain useful language. I will keep adding as I go.
The dictionary has become my best friend and I also make sure to ask French friends for help with the more obscure idioms that you just can't make up.
Sunday, 27 February 2011
This post is for my mum and anyone else who found themselves wondering about the tune.
YouTube yet again came to the rescue. Click here to find a cute little snail singing the rhyme. You will find that if you search 'Les comptines de L'escargot' you will find the same little snail rehearsing several different french nursery rhymes.