Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Trying to keep one step ahead on the non-native path

I am oh so conscious that I just haven't had the time to sit down and write for far too long now. Sometimes life gets in the way and other priorities raise their head. That said, there is barely a day goes by when my brain doesn't whiz around ruminating upon some element of this bilingual life we have chosen. So... as it's Bilingual Carnival time again, I have been spurred on to get back on my blogging horse.

Over the past few weeks I have been grappling with the worry that my language skills may not keep up with the ever evolving needs of Poppette. Of course, I know that it's a moving feast and as time goes by I will, with the right effort and determination, pick up more and more appropriate vocabulary and turns of phrase. But really.... that commitment seems huge... especially in the dark hours of the early morning when I should be sleeping but my brain won't allow it! It's the seemingly little things that monolingual and native-speaking parents won't ever need to give a second thought to that create such potential minefields for a non-native ... such as making Halloween masks, baking cupcakes, making friendship bracelets....

At this stage... all I can do is panic! My common sense tells me that I just need to buy some French crafting and activity books and look out for DVD's in the same vein as Disney's Art Attack (but en français) and learn from them. It's a daunting prospect though... trying to keep one step ahead at all times.

I know that attending the French Saturday school we have found will really help; or at least I hope so. This is a place where Poppette can play with other children in French and I can mix with French and Francophone mums... both of us absorbing more and more language. School is now out for summer though and I await September term with real anticipation.

I read an interesting letter on the pages of InCultureParent Magazine yesterday which reinforced the validity of my concerns. The non-native (OPOL) Maman in question had written for advice as to whether she should give up speaking Spanish to her 3 year old son as it is becoming exhausting. She makes a really solid point in that, although she is fluent in Spanish, with the best will in the world it is still her second language and her level when compared with a highly educated native speaking Spaniard is ‘rudimentary’; the result being that her son is nowhere near as eloquent in Spanish as he is in English. The expert's response was reassuring, namely: - 'Bravo for how far you have come on your own so far' and 'Now it's time to get some help!'

If any one has any experience or advice about how (or how not) to proceed, or any resource suggestions, then please do either leave me a comment or email me at