Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Non-Native Thought for the Day #5

One remarkable and definitely enviable thing about learning languages consecutively from birth is that the words come with no baggage, no preconceived ideas about what does and doesn't sound right and no mental blocks around the pronunciation of certain sounds.

The languages simply are what they are.

What a wonderful way to be able to see the world. From a position of acceptance, free of questions, doubts and insecurities.

I often get a reminder of this wonderful phenomenon when I listen to Poppette speak. She often freely uses words that I remember finding either hard to learn or perhaps ones that in the past I had avoided using as they just sounded odd to someone who's brain is hard wired first and foremost to the sounds of the English language.

This morning was a great example. Poppette (28 months) bounded out of the front door and exclaimed " [ Il ] fait [ du ] brouillard [it's foggy]. Now you don't get many words less English sounding and, therefore, more technically difficult to grasp as a starting French language learner than brouillard!

When words and phrases like this jump out of her mouth it makes me very happy that we chose to teach her both her languages together. It reminds me that there are so many benefits to doing it this way.

Another very handy benefit is never having to learn the gender of nouns! Oh what a delight... imagine just knowing that, regardless of whether it's a boy or a girl, a baby is un bébé and that an apple is une pomme whilst a grape is un raisin. I am so happy that my children will never have to grapple with genders because they will just instinctively know....

The flip side of that is, of course, that I need to be darned careful about making mistakes just in case they become hardwired into their little brains....grrrr.....more revision then!


  1. Ohh, I'm so envious ! I would have spoken In English with Pirouette since he was born. Even now, it's very hard for me to talk in English with him (except on Wednesdays !). But he can't compose sentences as your daughter does.

    1. It's seriously not too late so don't worry about that. At three years old, Pirouette will pick English up much in the same way as Poppette picks up her French.

      Like you, I don't get nearly as much time with my children at the moment because of work commitments but when i am with them i just try and speak as much as i can. It's been amazing to see what Poppette has absorbed... some days she will say a word or phrase that I might have mentioned only once or twice many weeks ago...likewise, she is now repeating words from her favourite cartoons .... it's almost as though at this tender age their young, sponge like brains just soak up everything ready for them to use when it takes their fancy at some point down the line.

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  3. This is a great concern of mine..I'm often mixing up the gender articles of nouns...and I don't want them etched incorrectly on my little guy's mind! It's so encouraging to hear of little Poppette's words!

  4. This is one of my greatest fears! I am often mixing up the gender articles of nouns...and I don't want them etched incorrectly on my little guy's brain! So encouraging to hear about little Poppette's words!

  5. Hear ye, hear ye!~
    Nice job, chica...i'm SOOO happy that you've stuck it out, and can stand back and admire the results even now, just a few years later!
    So proud of you!