Friday, 31 August 2012

The August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism is out - Yippee

This month's carnival is being hosted by Lina over at Best 4 Future - Bringing Up Baby Bilingual and there are so many entries this month!!!

If you fancy a good old read, click here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Getting Crafty : Exploring Prepositions Dans le Jardin des Rêves (In the Night Garden)

This week, I decided to spend some time exploring prepositions with Poppette. Hoping to make it feel like a game rather than a lesson, I decided to make a 'sticky board' based on one of her favourite cartoon series - Dans le Jardin des Rêves (In the Night Garden).

It's amazing what you can do with an old children's magazine, card, glue, scissors and, of course, my old favourite - contact paper :D - from these I created a selection of her favourite characters which she could then stick to the sticky board.

The sticky board itself serves as a simple backing scene with trees and grass.

In hindsight, if I were to do this again with the distinct goal of exploring prepositions, I would probably go for something different on the backing scene. Something like a picture of a toy box - simple and far easier to demonstrate words such as on, inside, in etc

Friday, 24 August 2012

Another reason to introduce more than one language from birth

The beauty of speaking two (or more) languages, when chatting with another person able to speak them too, is that it allows you to mix the languages up and, in doing so, have an altogether more precise conversation.

In general, languages tend to be like a Venn diagram - they overlap in the middle but have distinct differences around the edges. Words that can express a feeling or concept in one language may simply not exist in the other.

Poppette is already beginning to use this to her advantage. As I have mentioned before, Poppette always answers questions that I ask her in French with "Yes" or "No" in English. She does, however, regularly use the French word "Si".

Now, for those of you who do not speak French, the word "Si" means "Yes" but is only used in answer to a negative question e.g.:

Me: (In French) "Oh, so you don't want a piece of cake then?"
Poppette: "Si" (Yes, I do).

The use of "Si" serves to stress that she is contradicting my statement. It's as though she is saying "Yes I bloomin do want a piece of cake" to my suggestion that she might not. This concept doesn't exist for us English speakers. We have to add extra words to our simple "Yes" to get the point across.

Having only one word for "Yes" in English, it can be a real task for English speakers to take on board the existence of "Si" and, ultimately, to begin to understand when and how to use it and do so freely.

The fact that Poppette has just picked up the word and uses it 100% correctly is another big tick in the box for the benefits of the simultaneous learning of languages from birth. Poppette has no preconceived ideas about, of course, it is not in the slightest bit odd to her that there is more than one way to say "Yes" when speaking in French.

Do you have any other examples of how words can be borrowed from one language and dropped into conversation in another in order to make conversation more precise and to exploit subtle nuances between languages?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Getting Crafty - Homemade Counting and Colour Recognition Game

I am definitely not known for my creative talent.... In fact, far from it. However, there's something in me that just wants to get busy with my art and craft supplies to create fun activities to do with Poppette and Little Man.

The beauty of it is that these kinds of activities present myriad language learning opportunities as well as keeping play fresh and fun.

Today I made this 'sticky fish bowl' and ten little coloured fish so that Poppette and I can practice counting and colour recognition. The water in the bowl is sticky (I attached contact paper sticky side up) and the fish are covered in contact paper so that Poppette can stick them on and pull them off to her hearts content.

I can't wait to get playing tomorrow.... In fact, I almost want to go and wake Poppette up now (it's quarter to midnight!!!) so that we can get started right away.....:-D

Monday, 13 August 2012

....and the words continue to flow

Poppette is busy building her word arsenal.

What has really amazed me lately is her ability to absorb new words so quickly. I am not exaggerating when I say that she only needs to hear a word once in context to pick it up, store it and repeat it unprompted at a later moment in time.

This is happening in both English and French but I plan to focus on the French for this post.

Two examples of this rapid absorbtion of vocab come from last week.

One day we were playing with pompoms. Poppette picked one up and, as she squeezed it, I told her that it was 'doux'  [soft]. The next day, when were were playing with her pompoms again, Poppette picked one up and squeezed it and said 'doux' and then, as if to dispel any uncertainty I might have had as to whether she actually knew what 'doux' meant, she also told me, whilst feeling her soft quilted playmat, that that was also 'doux'.

Another great example comes from just this weekend. Poppette and I were sat on my bed playing with Little Man and I told her that she and I are "des filles" [girls] and that Papa and Little Man are "des garçons" [boys]. The next day we were all sat around playing in the lounge and Poppette suddenly pointed to Little Man and said "garçon" (and with beautiful pronunciation to boot). I honestly couldn't believe it....

Continuing this theme, when Poppette got home from nursery one night last week, she ran straight into the kitchen, looked on her dinner plate and said 'couscous'! I almost didn't believe my ears...she's only had it twice before in her life....OK, so I am her Maman and, of course, am bound to think she's wonderful, brilliant, talented etc but, seriously, I really do think she has an extremely good memory for a 21.5 month old.

We have also been doing lots of counting lately. Thanks to the "L'ours dans un carré" [Bear in a square] book that I spoke about in a previous post, Papa and I both do plenty of counting everyday. The Bear books are Poppette's firm favourites and she is rarely more than a few feet away from them at any point these days!!! I digress.... I am supposed to be telling you about how Poppette is memorising and independently citing strings of numbers. Again, it's one of those things that you almost don't believe the first time you hear it. She can often be heard proclaiming 'deux, quatre, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix' [2,4,6,7,8,9,10] when stuffing her pompoms into a jar. I'm not sure where un, trois and cinq are hiding  :-) In English she tends to focus on 2,3,4.

When Papa collected her from nursery last week the nursery nurse told him that Poppette had been counting in French. She also said that she had been rummaging around in a box for a toy she wanted and, when she found it, she pulled it out triumphantly and proclaimed 'Voilà!' [here it is!].

Finally....onto Poppette's current most used word of the moment -' même' [the same]. As she absorbs the world around her she likes to categorise. So whenever she sees another version of something she has seen before she will tell you that its "même". So the owls in her nature book are the same as those on the canvas in her bedroom, the toothbrush Maman is using is the same as Poppette's toothbrush, the earthworm in her picture dictionary is the same as the one peeping out of the soil in one of her bear books....

Watching Poppette learn and grow really has taught me that, although young in years, toddlers are far wiser and comprehending than I would have ever thought possible.

Being around children really does help you to notice those things in life that you had stopped noticing...they add a touch of sparkle to the world.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hearing about French Baby & Toddler Club, CouCou, makes me want to move to London

When I first heard about CouCou, the East London based French club for babies and toddlers, I wanted to pack our bags and upsticks.

Why, oh why is all the good stuff in London????

Well...for those of you lucky enough to live in the Big Smoke, I just want to wax lyrical a little about this great club and hopefully, you will have the chance to go and check it out for yourselves. If you do go, please come back and leave a comment here to tell me how it was.

You may have already seen the posters for the group round and about with their catchy tag "Chante avec moi" (Sing with me).

The group itself was the brainchild of a group of four non-native French speaking mothers of children ranging from 6 months to 2 years in age. When the singing group that these mamans had been going to suddenly closed its doors, they put their heads together to come up with a plan for creating an environment where francophone babies and toddlers and their mamans could go to indulge in a little singing, storytime, games and activites all in French. Thus, Coucou was born.

Each session has the same format, with a welcome song "J'ai un nom" where the group sing hello to each child one by one, followed by songs, nursery rhymes, games and activities based around a different theme each week and then, five more songs (which are the same each week to help the children learn through repetition). Each session ends with a story and a goodbye song.

Previous themes have included :- Parmi les oiseaux, les voyages, à la ferme, le corps, les nombres and un voyage à la campagne (which included singing 'Promenons nous dans les bois', il court, il court le furet', 'dans la fôret lointaine and a countryside walk where the children had to keep their eyes out for Monsieur Le Lapin).

Sessions take place every Monday at 10 am in the Childrens' Room at Dalston C.L.R. James Library, Dalston Square, London E8 3BQ.

Check out their Facebook page at .

Poppette would love it, of that I am sure!!!