Monday, 21 February 2011

Incy Wincy Spider

The weird bit about nursery rhymes is, that in your native language, they just roll off your tongue. You can find yourself belting out impromptu renditions of row, row, row your boat or rock a bye baby during playtime, bath time, hug time or anytime really. Unfortunately, in my second language, where there should be rhyme there is often just a pregnant pause.

Of course, I have spent a good deal of time learning the words and tunes to various classic French nursery rhymes but somehow they just weren’t rolling off the tongue the way I would like. I decided this simply had to be down to the lack of nostalgia. I have no connection back to my own childhood when singing a nursery rhyme to Poppette in French.

And then I stumbled upon: -

L’araignée Gypsie

L’araignée Gypsie monte à la gouttière,
Tiens, voilà la pluie, Gypsie tombe par terre,
Mais le soleil a chassé la pluie.
L’araignée Gypsie r’monte à la gouttière.

For those of you who don’t speak French - L’araignée Gypsie is effectively Incy Wincy Spider – one of my favourite childhood rhymes. It even has the same little actions that go along with it.

I feel like I have hit pay dirt. A rhyme that I connect with in French almost in the same way as I do with the rhymes that are hard wired into my brain from infancy.

But I am sure this one little rhyme will begin to wear thin for all involved if I keep singing it at the rate I have been doing for the past couple of days.

So I am appealing to anyone who may know more rhymes with a similar French/English crossover – could you please let me have details?


  1. This is a great reminder of the importance of finding things that we, as non-natives, can connect with from our childhoods and share with our child/ren in theirs. What a great idea, finding the same Frere Jacques (sp?), like many of us learned in multiple languages as a kid.
    I am definitely inspired to start a search of sorts...perhaps keep a list going on my blog. Hmm. Cool! Thanks for sharing.

  2. In my quick search for some cross-over songs, I got to thinking about where I'm at now and what I did to get here, and thought I would share that since I'm not sure if you've read about that on my blog (it would make for a good blog entry, too, actually).
    When Kaya was about the same age as Poppette, I spent a bunch of time on the internet looking for all sorts of resources, especially music. Being a teacher, I know how valuable music has been in helping my students learn. I asked my friends for children's-CD recommendations (some of them sent me some as gifts), I looked online on Amazon, at our local used books store, and asked around in my German playgroup to see if I could share any. I also looked for a keyboard (and ended up getting an electric piano for my birthday!) so that I could play the melodies to the songs I didn't have on CD. Now, I have a big collection of not only CDs, but a variety (probably WAY too many) of song and finger rhyme books. I have gone in phases as to how often I'll sing and listen...for a while, I had a German CD on EVERY night while Kaya was falling asleep. Once my husband and I would get sick of the CD (or before!), we'd switch the CD to another one. I made some mix CDs of just German lullabies, in addition to the specific lullaby CDs that I was able to find. Now, after a year of listening to CDs over and over and over, I can turn to most of the songs in the books and know the melodies, and in many cases, most of the lyrics. So, even though these songs aren't stored in that part of my brain from my childhood, they are in there now, and it's even to the point where we can be doing something unrelated to singing and I'll see something (like an elephant) that triggers a song (about elephants). It has definitely taken time, but we've got plenty of that, right? =) Kaya is just now, in the past few months (at 2), to the point where she wants me to sing and sing and sing, and will also allow me to sit with her with a book in my lap and sing from the book, page after page. So, as long as I know the melodies, I don't have to know all the text. It's definitely one of my favorite things to do with her now, too, is sit and sing from one of our many books.
    Hope this helps!
    p.s. Here's the first link that I found on the web for songs in multiple languages:

  3. Great thanks Tamara - what you say about the songs over time becoming melded into your brain - you're right, the key is immersion and time. I am going to have a look at the web link now.

    I like the idea of finger rhyme books - I have not come accross these before so am going straight to Amazon (my guilty pleasure) to try and find some now.