Friday, 10 June 2011

Si je dis des bêtises, il faut me pardonner....Forgive me if i'm talking nonesense...

They say that, in order to help a child learn to speak, you should talk to them and then talk, talk and talk some more. Surely it then follows that, if you want to help a child to speak a minority language (i.e. French) in a majority language community (i.e. England), you need to speak to them in the minority language even more.

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? 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!!!


  1. Rubbish you say? Love it...It took 2 minutes of reading for me to see where I am lacking in our little adventure.
    You are right on...speak, speak, and speak.

    Thank's for the inspiration, and have fun with Poppette.

  2. I totally hear ya on this one, too--it's always a great reminder. Sometimes, it feels like the hugest challenge on the planet, as I'd sometimes rather be stuck in my own thoughts in my head that use my voice to create words...

    Also thought that I'd add that I read somewhere that, research states (doesn't it always!) that it's not only the amount that we speak to them that makes a difference in their communication, but in how immediately we respond to their speaking and cues to us (the whole 'learning' concept, where they can put two and two together when we respond in a certain way).

    For what it's worth!
    And yes, thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Salma - It is great for me to hear that something I am doing with Poppette has been an inspirtation. Thanks! Interestingly, your recent post about talking to Rainbow about things in the garden was an inspiration to me to be more descriptive about the world around us... there is so much out there for us to discuss with our little ones. I sometimes forget that everything is new for Poppette.

    Tamara - you make a really interesting point. I have never given any thought to the fact that language learning has to be easier if words are linked directly to visible objects, emotions or situations. It makes a lot of sense that the context will help. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hello, I want to second Tamara's point, and to add something else from my own experience. Because of our work arrangements, my son spends a lot of one-on-one time with each language, so we (my husband and I) make a conscious effort to repeat situations and experiences that he has with the other parent, and then to share the experiences together, so that he learns both sets of vocabulary and understands how to switch between French and English. It has worked really well for us in the last 3- 1/2, because (so far) he doesn't mix the two, and does an instant translation between the languages when the three of us are together.

    On an aside, you aren't crazy if you talk to yourself. You should worry, however, if you STOP speaking to yourself because of something "yourself" said! ;-)

  5. Liavek - great to make your acquaintance. I have been giving quite a bit of thought recently as to how a balance in vocab can be achieved in a non-forced or overtly educational way (i.e. no language drills!!!). Your suggestion is a great one, thank you.

    I would love to know more of your story. Is yours a non-native or native situation?

    p.s. love your little "aside" - bang on.

  6. Oh, I think the "inane blathering" is essential for babies in any language! Fortunately we have good children's books for those times when we know we need to barrage our kids with input but just can't bear to say one more word about diapers!