Franco-fears

As Alex turned one, I struggled with the decision to return to work.  I know full well what challenges this will pose for us on our bilingual journey.  His peers, childcare providers and social circles will all speak English.  Will my time in the mornings, evenings and weekends be enough for Alex to keep growing in his French acquisition? Will I be too distracted (or exhausted!) to keep up the commitment we’ve made when I start seeing the effects of his English surroundings?  Still, each time he points at his nez, claps les mains or blows me a bisou, I renew the promise we made to raise a bilingual baby back when we knew we were expecting him nearly two years ago. He and I have come far together these last 12 months.  I hope the bond we have built on this Franco-American world I’ve constructed for him will see us through the coming, trying months.

Comments

  1. As the mother of a 15 year old American boy who speaks fluent French, can I recommend one invaluable resource? Bayard Presse. You may already be familiar with them – but they have magazines for kids of all ages – starting with Pomme d’Api for the littlest guys, through J’aime Lire, Astrapi and others. My son finally maxed out at about 13. For a very reasonable price per issue, you get monthly or even biweekly magazines with stories, bandes dessinees and wonderful projects. He just adored them and it made French such a special part of his identity…. And while you are years away from this, in case someone else is reading, the other great trick was carefully chosen video games in French. Much, much more productive than cartoons, videos or movies – part of how my child learned to read in French and learned to want to read in French….

  2. Congrats. I wish I could do something like this with my son. All I have is flash card aps and not a great knowledge of french.

  3. I just stumbled upon your website and I think it is wonderful that you are speaking French to your son. I am French American living in texas and speak to my 11 month daughter “solely” in French. As does my side of the family. My husband is American; how do you keep the French up with your youngest with the rest of the family not understanding? I am currently a stay at home mom and worry about the future impact of American schools on our teaching my mother tongue.

    • Bonjour Jennifer,
      I renew my commitment on a daily basis to keep speaking French to Alex. Believe it or not, it now feels unnatural for me to speak to him in English, especially during those tender Mommy moments when I am comforting him or nurturing him in a motherly way. The older children have become very used to my speaking French to him and they all try to use the French they themselves have picked up when they are near him. The biggest challenge is – believe it or not – from bystanders or other “experts” who make comments like “Perhaps he would behave better if you spoke to him in English.” My favorite, though, came from his daycare provider who explained that Alex really can’t be blamed for not participating in class like the other children because he “can’t communicate properly.” (!) I have to remind myself that he is only 18 months and that communicating properly in ANY language at this age is still in the developmental stages.
      Stay strong in your commitment to speak in French to your child!

    • Thank you for your article. As a muilglintual person, fluent in 4 languages I often have to fight this myth. I am a linguist myself and I know all the backgrounds from code-switching.

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