Thursday, 2 June 2011


I just had to sit and write down my thoughts and feelings this evening to make sure that I capture this positive moment in black and white – it will hopefully help to keep me on the straight and narrow should I have a shaky moment going forward.

Speaking French with Poppette seems to have taken on a life of its own this week. I am trying to analyse why…. So that I can bottle it and use it as and when necessary!

We have had practically total immersion for a few days. Yesterday was spent with a French friend (my language swap buddy) and her three children and we didn’t speak English at all. It’s fabulous to be able to surround Poppette with others speaking this beautiful language.

I have been speaking exclusively French with Poppette this week and, to my great delight, I even maintained this when I had workmen over and when we were out and about. It definitely seems to be getting easier now that Poppette is becoming more and more interactive. Even though she cannot yet respond in any language, she is soaking up the speech around her and reacting to it. The crazy fact is that she understands French just as much as she understands English at this stage because she is surrounded by both languages. I have to pinch myself really to make myself believe that this is her reality. For me to stop now would be taking something away from her .

I have to admit that I am still lagging behind where I would like to be in terms of speaking French to Poppette in the company of friends and family. I have realised recently that, in large, the reason for this is that I actually fear (totally unjustifiably I might add) that people that have never heard me speak French might actually just think I am making it up… or that I am able to perhaps ask for directions or a cup of tea but over and above that am just overstating my capabilities.

Once a person has heard me speak French, I can and will happily speak French to Poppette in their company. Only the other day a friend was visiting and we were discussing my reticence to speak French to my daughter in company. She pointed out that, although I thought she had never heard me speaking French to Poppette, she had many times… it’s just that I hadn’t realised. She mentioned that, although I hadn’t really spoken French when she had been involved in the conversation, I had done so when she was present when the conversation was just between Poppette and I. As soon as my friend said this, I felt able to speak more and more French to Poppette in her company.

Likewise at playgroup, although the host had known of our bilingual home life since day one, I hadn’t actually spoken French to Poppette at playgroup for fear attracting strange looks. Then one day I attended with a French friend of mine and, of course, we chatted away in French amongst ourselves the whole time. After this I was totally at ease speaking to Poppette when there alone. Basically, once I knew I had nothing to prove, as these people had already witnessed my fluency, I felt totally at ease.

C R A Z Y.

Anyhow, the fact is that I am feeling super excited at the moment. Our bilingual household is really taking shape with our stocks of French books and toys and the like growing nicely.

Up until today I have made a point of only buying books and DVD’s for Poppette in French. Likewise for speaking toys such as her Tourni’ Piano by Vtech. So today when I nipped into town and bought her three finger puppet story books in English, I knew it was a sign that I was feeling more comfortable with this bilingual business and that it is feeling more established in our home. I will tell Poppette these stories in French whilst Papa does so in English. That said, English resources are so easy to come by that I know I will return my efforts back to the French ones now... I can't wait for my next trip accross the channel where I can load up my bags... sometimes buying online just isn't the same.


  1. YAY! This is such an uplifting post to read, thank you so much for sharing...not only for you down the road (great idea!), but for the rest of us, too.
    I'd love to write more, but it's FINALLY sunny here in Portland, I gotta get out and enjoy it more!
    Talk soon, tamara

  2. Anonymous07 June, 2011

    Congratulations! This is wonderful! I remember when I realized Aleksander could understand as much German as English. I was astounded. It just sort of happened, all of a sudden. And I know the feeling you're talking about - it's so thrilling - and it's so inspiring! It's the first sign that what you're doing really is working. She's getting it! And you're doing a great job!
    I completely understand your feelings about speaking in front of others, too. I still haven't figured out why this is such a big deal. But I can say that it does get easier, just as you've experienced.
    Definitely hold on to this post for the times when you need inspiration :)