Thursday, 19 April 2007

two-tongued children

Lucky my daughter will have two languages.
Since I got a masters in French as a Second Language, I'm well read on the pros and cons of bilingualism. One of my greatest fears is to create a "semi-lingual" child who hasn't mastered either language.

Before she was born, we used to mix our languages all the time, depending on the level of fatigue, subject matter and emotional intensity. We discussed the One Parent One Language approach versus the Minority Language at Home approach. But in the end, it all came down to the emotional ties to the language - Jérôme didn't feel he could speak to his daughter in a foreign language, no matter how well he mastered it.

When she was born, I immediately spoke to her in English. The obstetrician also happened to be part-American (grandmother from Memphis). But Jérôme needed some time to get used to the idea of speaking French to me and Suzanne while I spoke English. But now, we are so used to it that our linguistic acrobatics don't faze us (interesting and annoying for our friends and family).

But our efforts seem to be paying off. Yesterday, I was reading the latest Babybug to Suzanne and I got to a poem with "clap your hands". And she clapped. I kept reading and went back to the poem. And she did it again! So for other bilingual parents out there risking their child's language capacity and eventual emotional stability, I have hope. It even turns out that one of the other kids that Suze plays with at the nanny's has an English speaking father.

Suzanne is also responding in French - she said a couple things to the nanny (dodo, bye...).

The unofficial Lille American playgroup hosted by my friend Deb yesterday will be great for us moms and our little confused bilinguals...it's also a wild dating scene (right, Oliver tackles Suzanne to get a hug).

1 comment:

Deb said...

I think that it is great that we are going to have bilingual children. I wish I was bilingual!

My husband talks to our daughter in French and I talk to her in English (like you). However, sometimes my well intentioned French family members ask me "why don't you speak to her in French?", well, because she will be raised in France, surrounded by French family, going to a French school, so I really doubt that my English is going to hinder her learning French!

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