Monday, December 14, 2009

An update on the whole bilingual children thing

I had planned on doing this at regular intervals. And I suppose I do. If once a year or every two years is regular.

The boys are 9 and 6 now. They're in CM1 (4th grade) and CP (1st grade) in a private French school. There are no international schools around so we make do with what we've got.

They both still speak only English to me, although they pepper some sentences with Frenchisms if they can't quickly come up with the word they're looking for in English. They usually speak English to each other. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I yell, "LANGUAGE!" if I hear them speaking French to each other if I'm not in the room. If I'm around, they don't do it.

I realize I could be a bit more relaxed about that, but it's so important to me that they speak English well and so much of their time is spent in French. French school days are incredibly long and the majority of their waking hours are spent in French. So I get a little worried sometimes about how their English will hold up over time.

Some things reassure me. They're comfortable in English most of the time. They tell jokes and laugh at mine. They say things like, "I so totally hate gymnastics." "Tell me how many days until Christmas vacation. Precisely." Boy1 has an accent, but it's cute. I'm sure he'll use it to his advantage at some point in his life. Boy2 has less of one, but he's had the benefit of growing up hearing me talk with his brother. I'm sure he'll find something else to use to his advantage.

3 comments:

JMH said...

That's a neat problem to have.

Being bilingual I think wires your brain with a bias towards tolerance. There may be scientific research to back my assertion, I don't know. But, certainly, linguistically, the colloquialisms should provide insight into different cultures, different ways of looking at things.

I'm not trained in this. It seems right.

Kevin Smith said...

Both of your boys speak excellent English, Nicole, and both are exceptionally bright, and last but not least (from their perspective), I have no doubt they will use everything to their advantage some day. They are, after all boys. I know I did

Sarah said...

Does your older son's school offer English classes, or do the foreign languages start a bit later? If/when his peers see that he's already fluent, will they consider that "cool" and thus increase his willingness to speak English around them and with his brother?

I think it is fantastic that you continue to encourage (read: make) them speak English! It can't be easy when everything else around them is in French.