Friday, 20 July 2012

Stringing Words Together

Poppette is now 21 months old.

Literally the day after she turned 20 months (Yep... i've been trying to find the time to sit down and write this post for a whole month!) Poppette said her first grammatically correct sentence - and it was in French :-) Hoorah :-) She said " Papa, regarde Maman" (Daddy, look at mummy). We couldn't believe it. In fairly short order after this, she went on to say "It's in there" and "I heard plane".

Poppette is really starting to be able to communicate, using either single words, strings of individual words (usually without the connectors (e.g. "écoute! moto" (listen, a motorbike), "maman, danse" (mummy, come and dance with me), "milk!" (i'd like a drink of milk please) and, of course, "noooooooooooooooooooo") or a combination of words and gestures.

She comes out with new words everyday. Testament to the Great British weather, the words she seems to use most often right now are "pluie" (rain), "pleut" (it's raining), "raining", "mouillé" (wet) and "wet".

Much to her grandad's amusement, she also loves to shout "pie" (which she calls any meal except for breakfast) "saucisse" (sausage) and "gâteau" (cake).

It's a remarkable feeling when your child starts to be able to communicate ... hearing the gentle tambour of her's like a hotline straight to her soul. Each time she speaks it touches me somewhere deep inside.

Another amazing development is that Poppette is starting to differentiate between her two languages or, at least, between the words I use with her and the words that others use with her. So many times now if she says an English word to me she immediately says the French word. It's fabulous to watch. She doesn't miss a beat.

Bizarrely, despite all these bilingual successes which offer proof that this non-native business can and does work, I am still really struggling to speak French with Little Man. I feel like I have gone right back to the days when Poppette was tiny and it just felt 'odd' to speak French. I really make an effort to speak French with him in front of Poppette.... I just really need something to click into place so that I do it all the time....I know deep down that (just like it has with Poppette) it will become second nature if I allow it ....

Sunday, 15 July 2012

July Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism

Hoorah..the July Carnival is here.....As always there are loads of great entries, some from bloggers I haven't had the pleasure to read before.

This month's carnival is being hosted by Tamara at non-native bilingualism and you can check it out by clicking HERE.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Non-native Bilingualism - My Top Five Tips

Recently, I was asked to share my top tips for those considering non-native bilingualism by the author of an upcoming ebook relating to multilingualism.

This got me thinking what a great blog post that could make and what a wonderful way for me to give a few tips to others whilst thanking those that have done the same for me.

When I first even considered the prospect of speaking French with my children, I did a lot of research (for those of you that know me... this will come as no surprise....oooh how I love research).

I would definitely credit a couple of really kind and helpful people for giving me the courage to get started. Papa of Papa et Piaf, Sarah of Bringing up Baby Bilingual, Corey Heller of Multilingual Living fame..... each of these people, despite never having met me, took the time and effort to respond to my queries, writing helpful encouraging personal emails to me and that is something I will be forever grateful for.

Once I got started, I came accross more and more people out there with shared goals and visions, people who had already begun wandering the same or a similar path, that were only too happy to provide advice, encouragement and personal stories. One person in particular - (Tamara... it's time for you to stand up and be counted - and I do apologise for making you blush since you are, indeed, hosting this month's carnival for which I am penning this very post) - got me through the extreme wobbles that epitomised the first 6 months or so of our journey.

Since then, I have "met" many many more wonderful, inspiring people.

So, onto my tips. I would say that for me, the following things have been invaluable:-

1 Build a support circle of like minded people.

My blog has helped hugely here. Through it I have connected with so many people I otherwise wouldn't had the fortune to connect with.

Also, I have found that utilising resources such as the forum on the Mulitilingual Living website has really helped to find like minded people.

I have also made real efforts to grow my circle of friends to include more french speakers or people interested in language.

2 Avoid people and situations that stunt your language use - at least when you first start out.

If there are situations or certain people that zap your confidence to speak your second language, then my advice is stay clear of them until you no longer feel that way. Seriously, I just always remind myself of the bigger picture and our ultimate goal of having bilingual children and think why should I let naysayers (or my reaction to them) jeopordise that?

Also, I remember just how self conscious I used to be speaking French to my English daughter in England in public. Don't let that stop you. Don't let your own insecurities deprive you and derail you. It is a fair assumption that the very people you think might be laughing at your language ability are actually rather impressed or at least intruiged - and the majority probably don' speak your second language fluently enough to hear any mistakes you might be making anyway.

3 Build your resources.

There are so many great resources out there - things to suit everyones taste and language learning/ language consumption preferences.

There's lots of free stuff online plus of course there are millions of books, DVDs, CDs and bilingual toys etc.

As a non-native, my experience has been that I am often learning niche language alongside my children or just ahead of them and so resources that they enjoy using have often first been devoured by me.

4 Practice practice practice.

At first my language use felt a little artificial. Now, due to having spoken french everyday for upwards of the past 17 months, it has become second nature and I would go as far as saying it feels artificial if I have to speak english with my daughter as I am not used to doing so.

Also, take any opportunity you have to listen to or speak your second language wth others.

5 Remember that language is only one part of your relationship with your children.

It is very easy to get caught up in the whole bilingual enterprise to a degree that you no longer see the wood for the trees. It's good to sit back and take stock now and again. A fun and loving relationship has to come first. If you are lucky enough to be able to throw an extra language into that then great.

If you are interested in looking a little deeper into how things work in our home from a bilingual perspective, you can pop over to Gato et Canard ( and read a recent interview I did with its host Annabelle - "Multilingualism in my family (Nichola's Story)".