The decision to embark upon the journey to bring our daughter (who we lovingly refer to as Poppette) up to be bilingual was probably one of the hardest decisions I have ever made and, for now at least, I continue to revisit the decision with every day that passes.
My mother tongue is English. I am also lucky enough to speak French having lived in
and having had a passion for the language since I first began to learn it at the age of ten. My partner is also English and currently learning French. When we pondered the long and sometimes arduous road to the acquisition of a second language later in life, both my partner and I were immediately agreed that it could be nothing but a good thing if our child were to be lucky enough to learn both English and French from birth. We considered the options available to us and decided to use the OPOL (one parent one language) method. France
Despite our overwhelming conviction that multilingualism is a good thing, I will admit to having certain fears and insecurities as to its application in our lives given that I am to create an emotional link with my daughter in a tongue that is not my own.
I have (and continue to) research the topic well. There are many arguments for and against the idea of what is often referred to as ‘artificial bilingualism’ i.e. the use of a non-native language. On balance though there seems to be more support than criticism.
The main criticism for me, I realise, comes from the devil on my own shoulder. The little devil that undermines me and causes me to question my own ability and to worry that I could be, at best, harming my daughter’s psyche and, at worst, ruining her life! Although these ideas may seem a little melodramatic, I know that I am not the only one to have struggled with them.
For a while I worried that there could be gaps in communication. Then I decided that the sensible option was to stop worrying that there might be things I could want to say in the future but wouldn’t know how and to concentrate on whether I could say the things I want to say from moment to moment and day to day… so far I am pleased to say that the words keep coming and I am pleased with progress.
I have taken a lot of inspiration from great blogs maintained by others who have taken the non-native plunge - particularly Papa et Piaf, Bringing Up Baby Bilingual and Speaking Spanish To My Daughter. The more I look, the more I find that us non-natives dreaming of a bilingual future for our little treasures are not in as much of a minority as we might each have feared at one point or another. As and when I find other inspiring and useful blogs or websites I will add links here. Hopefully, this way this blog can become a useful resource and support for others out there considering whether to embark on a bilingual journey (particularly where a non-native language is to be involved).
As our daughter is currently only 4 months old, it will be a while before I am able to blog about her language acquisition and reaction to living in an OPOL household. In the meantime, I intend for this blog to be a place where I note my observations and fears (hopefully there won’t be too many of those!) and general musings. I hope readers of the blog will be inspired to leave comments, thoughts and suggestions.