Monday, 21 May 2012

Word Count

At 19 months old, Poppette has a spoken vocabulary of 67 words (this doesn't include the words she says when copying others - of which there are many). Of these 67 words, 25 are French and 42 English. Here's the list for anyone who is interested.

Interestingly, so far she seems to have mostly chosen only one word per object and I cannot work out how she makes the choice of which language to take these words from. It doesn't seem to relate the difficulty of pronunciation, as she says things like chaussures rather than shoes. Likewise, it doesn't seem to be based on groups of sounds as she says bateau rather than boat but cake rather than gâteau....

As Papa rightly says, it makes no difference to Poppette which word she chooses - at least not when she is at home, as she will be understood either way and to her there is no diffrence as she doesn't yet realise she speaks two separate languages. I would be interested to know whether if, when she fails to be understood at nursery using a French word, she switches to the English equivalent or not.

I have heard many parents who are raising bilingual children say that when they speak the minority langage to their child, the child responds in the majority language. I can understand why this happens and this, for the time being at least, is exactly what is happening in our house. Whenever I ask Poppette a question, although I will have spoken to her in French, she will either reply 'Yes' in English, or simply shake her head. I am eager to know whether this will change over the next few months as she will be spending more time with me and thus, more time surrounded by the French langauge.

I recently read a fellow blogger's post about not taking your children's bilingualism too personally. I have to say... for me this is not easy. I feel I have so much invested in this. I have to keep reminding myself that this is just one aspect of our life, our family and who we are and that realistically it is just a small part of who my children are. Surely, it's much easier not to take it too personally once you know you have suceeded in your goal.....We are certainly on the right track and I am proud of us for making this choice and sticking to it.

9 comments:

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I have been enjoying your blog for a couple weeks now. I have an almost 5 month old that I have been speaking French to since birth (at least when I know the French for what I want to say). Knowing there is someone else out there facing the same challenges and having success is very encouraging.

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    1. Hi Betsy

      It's great to hear for you and to know that you are out there following the same road. I have nipped over to your blog to and will follow your story with interest. Do keep in touch.

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  2. That is an amazing number of words for a 19-month-old! It really is interesting to see which words are chosen in which language. Their little brains are so fascinating and so mysterious! I don't know when children are supposed to start realizing they speak 2 language, but Aleksander definitely does. He also tends to respond in English, unless it's just the 2 of us and we (or I) have been speaking a lot of German. I've started asking him to repeat his answer in German, which he usually does.
    I love your point about not taking this too personally. It's easy to do. It sure helps to hear your child making progress, though! Aleksander recently said something to me in German (I wish I could remember what!), and I'm certain he learned it from one of his German children's songs!! That made my day :)

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    1. Hi Kate

      Thanks for you encouragement. It really does spur me on and keep me feeling positive to hear about how things work in other families, particularly in the case of you and Aleksander, as your approach of half a day in each language clearly works.

      Poppette is starting to show more interest in french nursery rhymes now by joining in with the hand movement that go with them. So hopefully, if i keep playing the songs she will absorb some of the words too and suprise me one day just like Aleksander did with you :D

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  3. You are doing a great job. It's hard not to take it personally until you see the fruits of your labor. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Cheers Reb. Have you had any joy in finding the original Multilingual Living article you mentioned in your post about not taking things too personally? I would love to read that !!

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  4. For us it was the same DD would use a word from one language or the other, and then all of a sudden she started to come out with the word from the other language too and now used them fairly interchangeably or even at the same time. For example she used to always say 'bag' then she went through a phase of 'bag sac', but now finally I am started to see that when speaking english I am more likely to get the english word back and when speaking french the french word will come out. Very satisfying. One worry though is with sentences the two get mixed for example 'that's daddy's tasse d'the'. But I guess she'll sort it out eventually.

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    1. Hi Kezia

      Thanks for sharing some of your story. I would love to know more. How old is your daughter, how long have you been speaking French with her and what approach do you take to language in your home e.g. are you strict OPOL or do you 'do your own thing' ??

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    2. My little girl is now 19 months, I've been speaking french with her seriously since she was about 11 months old but I have the added challenge of actually trying to learn it myself at the same time. I did French at school but with no one to talk to never really made it to a conversational level. But I have found talking to my baby to be the perfect way for us both to learn. I started off with a bunch of stock phrases like 'viens ici' using the french when I knew it and english the rest of the time. Slowly with these phrases, books, songs, videos and lessons I have built it up and am now able to speak french with her about 30-50% of the time. OPOL is definitely my goal but we're not there yet.

      I fear because I mix the languages she does get them muddled herself more than otherwise but I try to enforce a rule with myself that each sentence must be completely in one language, even if she gives me a word in the other language I will reply with 'yes that's right it's a ...' that way I hope she'll work out what goes with what. And I remind myself that she is self-correcting all the time so if I accidentally teach her a mistake it's not irreversible, after all we make mistakes in our native language too. So far its been pretty successful, she understands both languages just as well including when other people speak to her, and says easily in excess of 200 words with over 50 in french.

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