Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Kia Ora - One Mother's Non-Native Māori Adventure

Yesterday I was reading a post on the Multilingual Living website which asked for its members to finish the following sentence :-

'I feel like my multilingual parenting journey is....'

I was struck by the words of one member who wrote the followong:-

'Like a walking along a long a varied shoreline in changable weather. Sometimes the sands are golden and beautiful bustling with energy and life. Sometimes the sand is hot and your are jumping side to side wondering how you are going to make... it to the waters edge. Sometimes the journey is cold and lonely and the waves break furiously seemlingly out of control around you and things feel helpless, hopeless out of control. Sometime I look over with envy at monolingual families who have all the beachwear and gear and we struggle to dig with sticks and shells building our language. Mostly its like hanging and talking in the warm sun about whatever it is we are doing feeling or creating for the future, all in our language and knowing no matter how difficult the journey is, we are on in for an amazing adventure which others will join as we go.'

Talk about summing the whole thing up perfectly. This is exactly what multilingual parenting (certainly from my non-native standpoint) feels like.
Interestingly, this family's story is another fabulous non-native one! The Maman in this family studied Māori (her heritage language) as an adult at university. She has spoken exclusively Māori with her son for the full nine years of his life and now this little boy can laugh and joke and fully express his personality in this language which, of course, for him is a native language. It is this idea of expressing humour in a language that really strikes me - not easily done and a real mark of bilingual ability.

That such non-native bilingual sucess can be achieved, with a language where resources and native language speakers are so scarce, should be a real motivator to those of us out here that are aiming for bilingualism for our children with a far more main stream language pair.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Winning the (Language Swap) Lottery

A few months ago in a bid to increase both mine and Poppette's exposure to the French language, I came up with two ideas:-
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

My Imaginary Box

Some French friends invited us to go on a picnic on Sunday. It was Poppette's first ever picnic and our first for a long time. The outing had been set up by the local French meet-up group - "The Frogs". There were about fifteen of us in total sitting out in the sunshine, sharing stories and eating food. It was a great atmosphere.

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

Grumpy Old Goat

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

Stations de Radio FM Françaises

I have found a great website with links to loads of French radio stations which you can listen to over the Internet.

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.