Thursday, 1 August 2013

Max: almost 4 years old

Vacation 2013 is almost half over already. Unlike last year which was American filled, this time is purely franco-French, except for the thousands of Dutch and English tourists we've encountered along the way.

I would love to write about the beautiful beaches in Saint Palais sur Mer on the Atlantic coast, going for a morning run along what turned out to be a nudist beach, the oysters which I definitely do not like, the drive South, the mirabelle tree, Suzanne learning how to swim, Max jumping in the pool, the beautiful running paths in the woods, the cheese, the duck, the fresh local melons...but that's not the point of this post.

The point, as I sit at a café in Caussade, France  is to do a quick bilan on my kids' bilingualism.

Suzanne : 7 years and 2 months
There is no doubt that she is bilingual, and fairly balanced at that. The main change I've noticed recently is that she sometimes speaks to me in French, just because it's easier. IT's never more than a simple sentence, and usually just to tell me something very precise. On the other hand, she still needs French translations for some words that she only knows in English, usually food or emotion related. 

For the past 6 months, we've been working on the same fossilized mistake exemplified by the following: "What is it like ice cream?". She continues to use the French construction "C'est quoi comme glace" to ask "what kind of". I try to catch her each time. And she repeats it back.

We've talked to her about changing schools and going into the bilingual section of the public school starting from 3rd grade. And she's actually really excited to meet more English speaking kids and to have teachers who actually speak English, not like Mme G, she says, "because she's French and doesn't say orange right."  

Suzanne continues to devour books in French which translates into her teaching herself to read in English which just totally dumbfounds me. 

Max: 3 years and 11.5 months

Max continues to be black and white in everything he does. He has a true anal streak to him, meaning everything he does and says is precise and compartmentalized, which is a little scary when you see him freaking out because he dropped his hat on the floor and now it's so dirty (it's not!)

Max's current English problem also has to do with "like". Over the past couple of weeks, I've heard him say "It's like I..." dozens of times and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it.

It's like I'm scared, I need a hug
I need a towel, It's like I'm cold
It's like I want Papa....

Then I got it! He's also using a French construction: "C'est comme je...Veux papa, j'ai peur, j'ai froid"...

I've been trying to correct him as well, but he's much less patient, more stubborn that his sister and does not systematically repeat back the correct sentence. 

I understand how frustrating it is to be cut off mid sentence to be corrected...believe me, I've been there, but I still think it's the best way to do it since they aren't autocorrecting themselves. I'm hoping that they will begin to auto-correct as they did with other fossilized errors in the past.

All in all, I'm so extremely proud and still utterly amazed at my children's bilingualism and their capactity in general to interpret their surroundings, partuially due to their bilingualism and partially due to the fact that they are so damn smart. 


cmoi said...

It's great you take the time to stop and evaluate your kids' language - I feel a bit guilty for not doing some "fixing up" over the years, especially after two weeks with family in England where my older son sometimes floundered with his English when the subject got complex (i.e. Roman military strategy - a passion of his he has read about alot... in French!). But it's amazing what a two-week refresher course will do, and we came back with a pile of books from a series called "Goosebumps". Easy reading that is perfect for 9-11 boys looking for a little scary stuff! Congratulations to your daughter - reading English does come naturally to bilingual US-French kids in France, but she still had to WANT to do it!

Reb said...

I think the reading will help solidify a lot. What do you think? Some of those mistakes are so fossilized now that I can't work them out of their little brains...I'm hoping that bilingual school will.

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