Monday, 3 October 2011

Bilingual Pudding or Bilingual Max 25 months

I don't think you can really fathom what bilingual actually means until you are caught in the middle of it. I began French classes at the age of 5 and then had a love-hate relationship with it (including a 3 year hiatus and a 5 year learning anti-curve due to some of the worst teaching imaginable) until I decided to study abroad in France at the age of 20.

I've stressed, I've worried, I've even complained (probably since I like to complain) but in the end, my kids are incredibly bilingual. They are more bilingual than I ever could have imagined them to be, especially since I'm not a stay at home Mom, they are not surrounded by English and they do not go to a bilingual school (the extent of it is me coming in once a year to Suzanne's school and doing an American thingy and Max hearing some English nursery rhymes at  nursery school).

I always chalked Suzanne's bilingualism to a knack for language. She has a very musical ear, retains information and can identify different languages from an early age (like hearing Hebrew at a Passover seder - her ears perked up like a little puppy). But Max, given that he's a boy and a second child, well, he was a wild card.

At 5:30 every day, I ring the bell at the nursery school. And at 5:30 every day, I hear a little boy with a Bobby Brady-like voice scream, "ma maman!" (Max has a very LOUD and DEEP voice which makes it instantly recognizable and highly audible). And as the caretaker opens the door, Max always comes runny into my arms, "Mommy! Mommy!". Some days I'm greated with "Hug Mommy!"; sometimes it's "Play Abel. Play cars." And the other day it was, " Fun work today Mommy?" So on Friday, as Max was saying "put shoes on" to anyone who would listen,  I asked the caretakers if Max speaks English throughout the day. And they all shook their hears no because he only speaks French. This means that his brain does the switch now without hesitation, which wasn't the case before his intensive English stage (training) with Grandma.

I've also mentioned before that Suzanne is my greatest ally and continues to be so. Proof was yesterday when we were at the beach (yes, we went swimming in the North Sea in October...). We were counting out something or other and Max began counting. "One, two, three...four, five." J and I looked at each other as Max continued all the way to 10. Jerome was bluffé meaning that his chin dropped so far he was almost eating the beach.

And so, to any parents out there reading my blog, struggly with or even considering OPOL, hang tough. I've realized that there are always moments of doubt, impatience and moments when you wonder if it's more effort than it's worth. It is. Trust Suzanne and Max. And most importantly, trust yourself!


Jan Exner said...

I wholeheartedly second that!

Reb said...

Jan, I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but I couldn't...something's been strange with my computer ever since I got a new one.

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