Pin It
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children: Correcting My Grammar

By

I’ve long been resigned (though secretly thrilled) that my six-year-old daughter corrects my French, but I didn’t expect my three-year-old son to start just yet. But a couple of days ago, when I was offering him some raisins verts (green grapes), he indignantly stated, “Raisins blancs!” (white grapes), which I suppose must be the correct translation he has heard at school. Since then he has joined his sister in earnest with the corrections—a gender here, a grammatical correction there. So is he lancé into the francophone world? Can I leave him to his own devices? Have I taught him everything he knows? Probably the answer is yes, but the trouble is as soon as I switch to English it immediately becomes his dominant language, to the point that he stops speaking it so much at school. So for now I am ploughing on, despite being firmly put in my place linguistically on a regular basis.

 

I can’t complain too much though, because while I long to share more with the children by speaking with them in my mother tongue, after six years French has definitely become our language and I know I will miss speaking it when we do stop. In a way, this is a gradual fading out. I am already speaking mainly in English with Schmoo, especially when her brother is not around (it’s more for his benefit now). Today, for example, she had the day off from school for an appointment and we simply spoke English all day. I have to admit, it was very relaxing!

 

Saying that, one of the things I love best about our continuing language journey is how every language is like a window into the world of its country. So teaching your children another language goes hand in hand with learning about other cultures. For example, in French there is a festival called ‘La Galette des Rois,’ which involves eating a yummy cake and discovering a feve within (a bit like the coin in the Christmas pud). The finder becomes King or Queen for the day and gets to wear a crown. The children celebrate it every year at their French schools, and it’s a celebration that brings lots of new vocabulary. Meanwhile, in Twi, there is an expression, ‘fem fem’, which describes the sensation of nails scraping down a blackboard, something this culture clearly wanted to give a name to. To say ‘I’m angry,’ you can say ‘me beafu,’ which literally means ‘I’ve got hairs on my chest,’ or ‘me ni abre’, which means ‘My eyes are red’, both nice and evocative of the emotion.

© 2011 – 2013, Omma Velada. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


The West's Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

How the West sleeps is different from the rest

Family History

Who knew that becoming a mother merged our histories of loss and grief

Primary School Privilege

Time outs due to whistling versus school's out due to poverty

How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband

And why this is the number one fight in our household

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Omma and her husband are raising their two children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, trilingually in the UK with English (native), Twi (late start) and French (non-native). She blogs on raising trilingual children at bilingualbabes.blogspot.co.uk

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!
[easy_sign_up phone="0"]

A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Hi...I am an Asian who was adopted and raised by Caucasian American missionaries in South America. I have two kids-my daughter is 16 and my son is 11. When I had my first baby I too was indoctrinate...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
This Karina, the Karina from the article. I'm now 13. It took this article was written 3 years ago and barely coming across it right now. I was originally trying to look for my folkloric pictures fo...
From How This Single Working Mom Raised a Trilingual Kid
Nice recipe, thank for shari...
From Vaisakhi Recipe: Sarson Ka Sag
I've been in Germany Ten years now, Lived in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, specifically Leonberg. In Frankfurt I was shocked by how unfriendly the People were, how aggressive their Drivers, but in Leonbe...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
At DreamAfrica, we are a streaming app for animations and films from around the world. We celebrate cultural representation in digital media and invite you to download and share our DreamAfrica appp...
From What We Are Not About
Imagine those people who work at your typical IT Department, yeah those weirdos with low EQ, no manners, no social skills; indeed those who kiss the bosses' ass when it's convenient, but get offend...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I contacted the editor of this magazine (Stephanie) and she told me she'd inform Jan about this article. I have since changed my mind about going to Germany because of Merkel's policies, and this i...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@Daniela You speak BS, you have never seen Franconia, or you're a Franconian girl. In the second case, I know that no intellectual conversation could be made with Franconian people, because you'r...
From Are Germans Really Rude?

More Raising Bilingual Children