Jacob Sings The Alphabet...In French


Reuben and Jacob started back at school this week after the Christmas break. We had a slightly wakeful Sunday night which was either pre back to school nerves or the almost full moon. After a couple of days however they were well back into the swing of things. On the 2nd January Jacob turned 3 years old. He's in the tout petit section of the maternelle (nursery) and goes every morning. He's been attending since September last year and heads straight for the lego table in the morning and waits at the door with smile on his face when I pick him up for lunch. He's happy, he's made friends, despite the fact that he started with no French whatsoever and probably doesn't understand a lot of what is being said.



He's been coming home this week singing the alphabet...in French. His nursery teacher is pretty cool and has his guitar set up in the corner of the classroom ready to sing with the children a medley of songs in French and English. Having your English 3 year old come home from nursery singing in French sounds like an achievement, and it is. But in the back of my mind everytime he sings it I can't help but wonder if he also know how to sing the alphabet in English, and if he doesn't, it's because I've failed to teach it to him.


And so begins our first challenge as parents with children growing up bilingual. This has highlighted that it's not just enough to go about day to day thinking that talking to our children in their mother tongue is enough. If we want them to be fully bilingual we're actually going to have to actively teach them...a lot. When they come home from school with phrases and words in French we're going to have to teach them the equivalent in English. The songs that they sing in French, are there English versions that we can teach them alongside? Being 5 Reuben has had a head start with his English language (he knows how to sing both alphabets, I checked yesterday!) But many have told us that being so young, Jacob's French may end of being better than his English, and I can see now how easily that may be the case. Reuben is starting to show an interest in learning to read. I know they haven't started that in nusery so now is the time to give him a head start in reading English before he starts his formal French education next academic year.

Having bilingual children is a theme that will run regularly on this blog as our boys continue to learn. I know that there are many parents out there with multilingual children. Did you ever have a moment where you realised how much work you would have to do as a parent in keeping more than one language alive? What tips do you have for young language learners?


Seychelles Mama Linking up with Seychelles Mama and her 'My Expat Family' linkup!










Expat Life with a Double Buggy
Also linking up with Expat Life With A Double Buggy!

9 comments

  1. Eeek Becky this post has really made me realise the challenges there are in raising bilingual children and just how much work would be involved. It sounds like you are doing a fab job though and you are totally on the ball with it!
    Thank you so much for linking this post, it's perfect for #myexpatfamily :) hope to see you again next month! Look forward to seeing how you get on with the boys! Xx

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    1. We knew there would be work involved but we haven't really had to think about it seriously until now. I really want them to grow up fully bilingual as I think it will open more doors for them. Luckily we have my mum who is a retired headteacher and will be pointing us in the right direction where learning to read and write in English is concerned!

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  2. It's lovely to see them really flourishing in France...

    Happy New Year to you all!

    Sara

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  3. Singing the ABC in french is so cute! My Miss 2 asked for "pain pas trop cuit" the other day (from a Tchoupi book)

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  4. It's great to hear your son singing in what is to you a foreign language, but I wouldn't stress too much about actively teaching him English. If you and your husband speak English at home he really will become bilingual. I'm sure you naturally sing English nursery rhymes without thinking about "teaching" and he'll pick these up too. What you may find later is that you have to work a little on writing English, but this may also come by osmosis (I call it that!) I'm talking from experience having raised 2 completely bilingual boys in France (with a French dad who speaks French to them). The only English they ever had (other than visits to England and visits from English rellies) until basic school lessons in primary and then English section in local international school from collège onwards (for older son, younger one not there yet) was from me talking 100% English to them. Have faith and above all don't stress. Enjoy your family's language journey. #ExpatLifeLinky

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    1. Thanks Phoebe it is a fascinating journey and so lovely to see kids pick up something so easily. If only it were that easy for us adults!

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  5. I actually recently panicked a little when I realised that although I talk and read in English with my children, my 8 year old never writes in English so I'm very actively trying to change that at the moment (there's a post of my blog about it). When my sons started in school their Dutch overtook their English but if you are aware of the fact that you need to keep working (and as Phoebe says that means keep talking to them and exposing them to English) at it then that is half the battle.

    Thanks for linking up! #ExpatLifeLinky

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    1. The great thing is that the school holidays are so long here in France which gives us time to work on reading and writing in English without it being too much alongside school work (though Reuben our eldest wont start learning to read in French until next year.) It's a great linkup looking forward to checking out more of the posts.

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  6. We moved to France when our boys were 4 and 5 and they spoke no French. I was advised not to speak French to them but let them learn "The real deal" in school which they have done fantastically. Now aged 11 and 12 (oh no, 13, we've just had a birthday) they are fluent in French and probably know some things only in French. Both can read English which I did teach them although my younger son's written English is poor compared to his more academic older brother. I am hoping that with time and reading both languages as well as learning English at school that his spelling will eventually improve. I would say do help them with their English but don't get too stressed about it. Bon courage from an expat over in Normandy.
    #ExpatLifeLinky

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