Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Is there such a thing as the perfect balance?

I can't help but wonder whether there really is such a thing as the perfect balance where bilingualism or multilingualism is concerned. I'm not just talking about a balance in ability but also in passion, commitment and even confidence.

As a mother who has chosen to speak French only (ok...ok.. I'm not going to paint myself as the saint that I  clearly am not.... so I will rephrase that ..) - As a mother who has chosen to speak French as consistently as possible to my daughter, I naturally have a vested interest in her French language development. Recently, I have been over the moon to watch her responding to more and more words and phrases. She now actually comes to me when I say "Viens!" (Come here!). It's amazing to watch a child's development and to witness the wonders of the human brain. How a brain comes to process and understand the spoken word is mind boggling whatever language is in play. However, I can't help being that little bit more excited about the fact that my 11 month old English daughter is more than capable of responding to a command/ request spoken to her in French.

So... when I went to collect Poppette from nursery last week, I couldn't help feeling a little bit protective towards her French language skills when the nursery nurse told me that she had been saying 'Ta' all day long, on each occasion that someone had passed something to her. I was surprised as 'Ta' is not a word that Papa or I  ever use - clearly Poppette has learnt this word from her time in nursery. Argh... she has only been there a month and already they are filling her head with English... help...

Seriously, I am now starting to realise that I am going to have to talk, talk and talk some more at every given opportunity if French is to be given even a fighting chance. Five days a week in nursery are clearly going to lead to English immersion. Where's the balance in that :-(


  1. I've known your joy and pain. My daughter didn't start really speaking until she was two. At the time, we had just moved to Singapore so I was no longer working and speaking loads of French to her. She had just started to speak French back to me more and more when, having had a second baby among other things, I enrolled her in a local nursery for half days and we hired some english speaking help. Well the French went completely out the window. Not the comprehension but responses. She is now 3+ and she is just starting to mix in french words to her English. All I can say is talk talk talk, films, music, playgroups with other french kids or even just having other french speaking adults around. good luck!

  2. Oh yes, even with only two days a week with German speakers my little one can say almost more than her dad in German!!! They learn from other kids much quicker than from us, I find sometimes. Don't give up though!

  3. Yikes. I. Can understand why you want to panic! Griffin has been attending daycare or been with his anglophone grandparents 2.5 days per week all along, and yes, I know that if he were with me 24/7 he'd hear more French than English.

    Take heart from Smashedpea at Intrepidly Bilingual, though--she works full time but her kids' German (in Canada) is very strong nonetheless!

  4. Thanks for your support ladies and for taking the time to comment - it really helps keep me on the right track.