Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Trilingual Max?

I didn't believe him when he said it for Suzanne. But maybe I should believe my husband this time around when he says Max's English is better than his French.

At just over 12 months, Max is still not saying much but understands a lot. He says mama, papa, buh for bird, ba for ball and makes various animal sounds (fish, lion and dog). But his mouth and body are in constant motion. As with Suzanne, I never speak directly to Max in French. He of course hears me speaking French to French speakers, but never to our family. Max clearly understands simple commands (with and without hand gestures) and questions like "come to Mommy", "do you want milk?", "dance" (he bops his head), "splash", "sleep" (he puts his head down) and "wake up". And like his sister, he seems to be very good with people and faces. He recognizes the names of all of his family (including uncles and grandparents as well as cats) in addition to close friends.

Until last week, Max was being watched by an Algerian woman who spoke to him in both French and Arabic. So, when Jerome says that Max was hearing more English than French, it may be the truth. And who knows how much Arabic Max has actually absorbed! Max started at the crèche yesterday, but I hope that the residual effects of hearing Arabic so early will manifest later.

I am happy to report that Suzanne is still speaking to Max mostly in English which provides him with that much more exposure to the minority language. We've also made great progress with reading. At 1 year old, Suzanne and I were reading books like Charlie and Lola and I Lost My Bear by Jules Fieffer (she's now beginning Roald Dahl at night!). Until last month, Max couldn't get through a page of a picture book without taking it from my hand, closing it to look at the cover, reopening to study the picture inside and reclosing it (I get the impression that he is comparing the cover picture to the picture inside). But in the past couple days, we have finally made it through 3 books (the same number I read to Suzanne every night). I find that if I mix up the types of books - a lift-the-flap, a textured book, and a book with highly contrasting drawings like Maisy - he doesn't loose interest so quickly. Lack of reading has been my main concern with Max's lanauge acquisition because I firmly believe that reading with my children is a key to their successful bilingualism.

And just because I'm a doting mother and I think my kids are so cute, here's a little picture of Suzanne and Max on vacation in Burgundy.

PS I'm looking for an American babysitter so if any of my readers know someone in Lille, leave a comment!


Amber said...

I've got a former student who is American.. sent her a message to see if she's back in Lille this year or not, will pass along her contact info if she is!

Leah said...

They are cute!! As for the American babysitter, why don't you post a message on the assistantsinfrance.com forum? GL!

Sairah said...

Very interesting blog! I am also living in Lille with a 1 year old myself, so interesting to see your little ones development. Neither of us speak French though, so not sure how much is sinking into his brain yet :) If you still haven't found a babysitter, I would be willing to, but would have to bring my little one along too. You can always post on the American Club website also. Best of Luck and I look forward to seeing how your little ones come along :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...