We are a French-speaking family living in a French-speaking environment. My kids go to a French daycare and will be attending a French school. However, it is important to my husband and I that our kids be bilingual (French and English). Though we know that they will have ESL lessons in school, we started exposing them to the English language very early on because we know that the earlier they are exposed to a language, the better the chance they’ll be able to learn it.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve exposed our kiddos to English in various ways: nursery rhymes, books, songs, Youtube videos and Netflix. We’ve even chosen to register them in swimming lessons that happen in a predominantly English-speaking city close to where we live so that they can benefit from hearing English once per week. (The instructors at the pool they go to are fantastic, they are all bilingual and speak to their French-speaking students in French and English to their English-speaking students. Win-win!).
Now Charles knows quite a few words in English and he is conscious that it is a completely different language than the one he is used to using. Sometimes, he plays and “speaks” in English. I tell you, even though the vast majority of the “words” he uses aren’t real, the intonation is spot on. It is absolutely adorable! But even his use of actual English words can yield interesting results.
For instance, given that the “th” sound doesn’t exist in French, it is generally difficult to reproduce by people whose mother tongue is French. For example, a French-speaking person will typically either drop the “h” or turn the “th” into an “f”. The number “three” might become “free” or “tree”. Factor in a toddler who still hasn’t mastered all of the sounds in his mother tongue and counting to ten for him sounds like this:
one, toop, freen, fow, five, six, seven, yate, nine, ten
For a while, he kept seeing “fucks” everywhere. (You know, white fucks, black fucks, firefucks).
Today, it was his turn to pick the first song from his Spotify playlist on his way to daycare. His choice? Row, row, row your butt.
Are your children bilingual? Are your toddlers still struggling with certain sounds? What are some of the funny things you’ve heard from them?