Friday, 28 December 2012

Do bilingual children ever think in their minority language?

Recently I find myself often wondering what language Poppette (who is 26.5 months old) thinks in. I imagine it's mostly, if not entirely, in her majority language but I could be totally wrong and have no way of actually finding out.

Her language ability in both her languages is impressive and she often translates for the other parent if she's had a conversation with one of us and wants or needs to talk about the same thing with the other. She is also expressing an understanding of the fact that Papa speaks English and Mummy speaks French and usually, when faced with an object she hasn't come across before, she will ask us both what it is and will be both wanting and expecting to hear two different words.

I know that, when I am speaking French, I'm not translating from English in my head but I also know that, when I'm sat ruminating,  I do it in English. I think that's pretty standard for someone who learnt their languages consecutively rather than simultaneously. But....If you learn both languages at the same time which one do you think in? A bit of both perhaps?

I'd really like to hear from anyone out there with experience or knowledge on this topic and, if you have bilingual children, perhaps you could ask them and let me know what they say :D

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Things They Say......[ça ne] marche pas

Poppette (26 months) came out witrh a classic the other day ... she was happily drawing away with her coloured crayons when she picked up the white crayon and noticed that it didn't make a mark on her white paper. "Oh, [ça ne] marche pas" ([it] doesn't work) she declared. She thought the crayon was broken. I showed her that it worked on her black paper and she was happy.

The next morning she was, once again, busy drawing, this time on her black paper. She picked up her black crayon and tried to draw. "Oh, [ça ne] marche pas" she declared again.

Toooo cute :D

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Books Books Books

As I have mentioned before, Poppette is a real book lover.

She has a pile on the table by her night chair, ready for her bedtime stories.

She sleeps with her favourites lined up in bed with her (usually around nine or ten at a time).

She has two bookshelves in our dining room crammed with books and never puts the wrong book back on the wrong shelf (she must get this from look at his CD collection and you would understand what I'm talking about).

So... I thought I would start to share the different books that are proving a hit in our house. I know that, in the beginning, before Poppette started to express a preference for books, we spent fortunes on books that, in hindsight, were not worth the money. Hopefully, by sharing those that have been a big hit, I can help save you some pennies and some time :D

The book that Poppette has been asking for time after time for well over a month now is one that was given to us by a very kind Multilingual Maman who's children had outgrown the book in question. I would never have thought to buy this for Poppette or Little Man yet as it is proper story book with far more words than pictures (although the illustrations are lovely) and I hadn't realised that a toddler of Poppette's age could concentrate long enough to listen to that type of story. I was, of course, wrong :D

So I present to you Babar et Le Père Noël.

Détails sur le produit

Babar has become a firm favourite of Poppette's ever since she was given the DVD, Le Roi Babar, as a gift by the same Multilingual Maman I mentioned above. The book tells the story of how Babar, upon hearing of his children's disappointment at not having received a response to a letter they have written to Father Christmas, decides to try and track him down and ask him if he will come and deliver Christmas presents to the young elephants living in Le Pays des Éléphants.

Poppette practically knows this story off by heart. A few days ago I overheard her telling herself the beginning of the story as she flicked through the first few pages....She actually said "Petit singe Zéphir dit [à] Arthur, Pom, Flore et Alexandre" (Zéphir, the little monkey, said [to] Arthur, Pom, Flore and Alexandre).... which is practically the first line of the book word for word... then she went on saying relevant words to tell the story as illustrated by the pictures on the following pages.

I don't think I will ever cease to be amazed hearing my children speak French. It's just so amazing and I am so proud of them.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Non-Native Treasure Trove : Tête à Modeler

I've known about Tête à Modeler for ages now, so why oh why have I never bothered to actually take a look around the site? It's nothing short of amazing!

It's just chocca block full of brilliant printables and craft ideas (and all other manner of really interesting and useful things such as recipes, info on health , education, culture and the environment).

There's also a free iPhone App for craft ideas on the go.

Steam will be coming off my printer by the end of the day :D

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Getting Crafty.....Mon Beau Sapin

Today Poppette (almost 26 months old) and I talked about shapes and colours whilst she decorated her very own Sapin de Noël [Christmas tree] (made with green paper and my trusty roll of contact paper).

She has known loads of shapes for months now in both of her langauges (including ones that I have often thought a little obscure such as zigzag, oval and heart) and her colours have really come on in the last week or two.

The highlight for me was when, totally unprompted, she picked up the large green star and announced "étoile sommet" [star top] and stretched up and stuck it on.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Book Review : Be Bilingual

Just over a week ago,  I mentioned (here) that I had read a manuscript for a fantastic eBook on multilingualism. Well, I'm pleased to say that this book is now out on general release.

Seriously, I have said it before and I shall say it again - this is the one book I have found to be most useful out of all those I have read so far on the topic of bi/multilingualism.

The book takes a fresh approach to the subject matter by providing a summary of what the experts in the field have to say and then asking actual bilingual and multilingual families to talk about their actual experience on the ground. 

The real gem for me is the second part of the book which has tonnes of suggested resources and tried and tested ideas to help bi/multilingualism flourish in your family. The author herself is trilingual and has two bilingual daughters, so she has a wealth of personal experience to draw upon.

You can read a free excerpt of the book here or buy a copy for download on Amazon (by clicking here) currently at the seriously low price of £3.82. Also, if you click on the 'Look Inside' icon on the book cover on Amazon, you'll be able to see the chapter list which will give you a good idea of the scope of the book. Chapter 5 covers raising bilingual children in a non-native language :D

Saturday, 8 December 2012

and we're off.....

It's happened!!!!

Little Man (8 months) has said his first word and it was "Mama".


He's been making the sound 'mama' for a couple of months now but there was no suggestion at all that he was actually linking that sound to me. Now there is!

For about a week now, he's been saying it to get my attention. If I leave the room, he crawls after me shouting "Mama, Mama". If  I put him down when he wants to be held, he cries and says "Mama". If he needs my attention for anything really.... It's a wonderful, wonderful sound.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Non-Native Treasure Trove : L'oeil d'ailleurs

Poppette loves books.

Papa and I love books.

Little Man is surrounded by books and I hope to foster in him a similar passion for them too.

So... when I stumbled upon the wonderful blog l'oeil d'ailleurs, I literally jumped for joy :D

This little gem does an almost daily review of a wonderful array of children's books (including picture books, word books, classic fables and much much more) for children between the ages of 2 and 10.

I have found some amazing titles for Poppette and Little Man here. The next on my list is 'P'tit Biscuit ou l'histoire du bonhomme de pain d'épices qui ne voulut pas finir en miettes' [Little Biscuit or the story of the gingerbread man who didn't want to end up as crumbs]. You can read the L'oeil d'ailleurs review here.

Product Details

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Non-Native Treasure Trove : Il était une histoire

Il était une histore is a fantastic free resource overflowing with French stories, songs and nursery rhymes for children between the ages of 3 and 10.

It already boasts a catalogue of around 100 stories and a new story is added to the site every Friday.

An element that particularly appeals to me is the 'Documentaires' section which teaches children about different countries, the weather, various customs and much more.

To top it off, not only are the stories available to read, you can also opt to listen to them in MP3 format. Some even have a 'karaoke' option which allows children to read along.

A large part of the site is open for access to anyone. There's also a bonus section containing colouring pages, puzzles and printables if you register to the site.

For more information about how the site works, click here to see la visite guidée.

For those of you looking for English language activities to do with your children, you will also find an 'Anglais' section containing English stories and rhymes etc click here if you're interested.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Non-Native Treasure Trove - 50 Ways to Encourage Your Child in French

Thinking of ways to group together the constant stream of great new resources that I come across, I decided to create a Non-Native Treasure Trove.

Each time I add something new, I will attach a "Non-Native Treasure Trove" label to make it really easy to find here on my blog.

First into the treasure chest is this list of 50 ways to encourage your child in French.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Non-Native Thought for the Day #4

As I heard Poppette (25.5 months) "reading" out loud to herself in French recently, it struck me that there are ways in which her use of her minority language can be optimised. As you can imagine, this brought quite a smile to my face :D

When I say "reading", I mean that Poppette was telling herself the story from memory as she looked at the pages in her book. Toddler's memories are like sponges and Poppette has memorised loads of her favourite stories.

Some of Poppette and Little Man's books are in both languages, others are in just one. Where Poppette has only heard a story in French, naturally, when she "reads" it to herself, she does so in French.... and when I think about it, it's obviously the same for experiences that she has only experienced in French too such as un tour de manège [a ride on the merry go round] which she excitedly chatters about all the time at the moment. new non-native resolution is to try and step up the new experiences and language learning opportunities that we have and help Poppette to learn about these things in French first. I'm really hoping that this will help to keep the language as alive as possible, give Poppette a very good reason to continue to speak French and, hopefully, help to prevent the English immersion experience at nursery from overpowering our bilingual endeavour.