Monday, 15 December 2008

It's all about genetics

The girl's got good genes. There's no other explanation. As Jérôme rightly points out, his grandmother speaks English like the Queen of England and his mother was an English teacher. And my husband, I am so proud to say, sounds more Scandinavian than French when he speaks English. On my side, it must come from my mother who's understanding of French is pretty impressive since she hasn't studied the language for 40 years or so.

So when I was speaking to the nice Irish woman with the 3 boys at M's birthday party on Saturday, I was both panicked and impressed when she related her boys' story to me: she and her husband speak English together, she always speaks French to all 3 boys but none of them will speak English to her (although they can). Then when I turned to look at my little girl who only hears me speaking English (since we opted for OPOL) and Charlie and Lola (I caught her saying tomAHto yesterday à l'anglaise), all I had to say was, Damn, my child's got some good language skills.

Suzanne at just over 2 and a half is now ableto make full sentences, express emotions and needs, and ask questions like want some? I'm stinky, I'm constipated and I'm sad for Leon (sniff sniff).

Recent acquisitions also include using yours and mine (or my's) for the possessive and making sentences using pronouns such as you, although she does use me instead of I like Me do it. She can also say things like Read this to me which shows that she knows how to properly use pronouns since she would only logically hear I will read this to you since that's what I say to her.

An interesting point to note is her accent. She cannot roll her the R in French. So all of the French words with R sound very American coming out of her mouth. I don't know if this has something to do with her being bilingual or if the French R is just one of those sounds that comes later in life.

We're also entering into one of the sticky points of bilingual child-rearing: reading. Not that she's reading yet but she does know almost all the letters. So when I was showing her the French alphabet book and said "O is for...bear" (or ours in the text), it was a little confusing. This may call for creative reading.

I'm looking forward to 3 weeks of bathing in English when we go to the States in January where I'm sure she'll pick up very important New Jersey vocabulary like mall, diner and cheese fries.


Papadesdeux said...

I am completely jealous.

Anonymous said...

You forgot What exit?

Elisabeth said...

I think that many non-bilingual French kids who are two-year old cannot pronounce their "r's" correctly either. I wouldn't worry about it. Your kid will have no American accent in French whatsoever.

Leah said...

How about...O is for...Obviously this is a bear! :)

Scott said...

I will make sure she gets cheese fries in at least 4 languages! Also, you aren't allowed to worry about reading for a long time still.

English Rider said...

I just began perusing your blogefforts so I am playing late catch-up reading and appreciating some older posts.
My daughter is bilingual (23 yrs old now) She was born in France (Her Daddy is a grenouille) We only spoke French at home after we moved to U.S. She did U.S. preschool and then French immersion at French/American school. High school and on in U.S. system.
I do remember that reading started a bit later; she was afterall processing 2 languages. I also remember that I had never thought that my life would once again include French homework. Having had that forced on me in U.K. schools, I hated it. You get past sleepless nights and potty training and then French Homework!
Quelle Horreur!

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