I am Parisian French. When I was 8, I had to choose a second language (it was mandatory). I wanted to learn English but my dad highly recommended I take German. Let’s say I had to. I never liked it. In fact, I hated it. So when, aged 13, I was asked to take a third language between English and Spanish, I took English.
It was instant love.
For those of you who know German, you may know how much easier it is to learn English after battling against “der, die, den, das” and others singularities of the German language…
English, on the other hand, was melody to my ears. And I was very good at it. I pretty much averaged 18 out of 20 at every exam (French marking – equivalent of an A minus maybe?) on my first year.
My husband is Canadian English. He learned French in high school but doesn’t remember much. He is trying really hard however to learn with the baby. But it is obviously harder to learn as an adult !
We were excited at the thought of raising a bilingual individual long before I got pregnant. It would be such a rich heritage to pass on to our child !
I did some research when I was pregnant as I wanted to find out what would be the best way to introduce both languages and finally agreed with my husband that we would do : one parent, one language.
This is pretty much what we have been doing although I do speak English at times. Usually, it goes like this: Did you tell Papa what we did today? So that, Papa in fact, knows what we’re talking about.
I have here on the island very few opportunities to speak French and if it wasn’t for my family and friends from France, I would probably not talk French at all anymore.
But there came our little one ! How I love speaking and singing in French to her ! I am so looking forward to hearing her first French word !
And to give her more opportunity to hear and speak the language, we would like to send her to a French daycare ( if we get a spot – she is on the waiting list ! ) and French school until junior high. Then we will give her the choice: stay in French school or go to an English one.
I would also like to add the basics of a third language (Spanish or Italian). And make sure she has good world awareness: I want her to know about different cultures, languages, and customs.
Please share your experience raising a bilingual child because you and your partner speak different languages or because it is a choice of yours. How does it work for you? Thank you !