Congratulations on the new arrival! And I would start now with exposure, perhaps Spanish lullabies along with English? Play Spanish music in the background. It will be a lot more difficult for him to learn Spanish than your daughter because he would not be in the same immersive environment, so I would get it in as much as you can.
For example, I would focus on Spanish, English and French last with him if you plan to stay there long term. The reason is because he will learn French guaranteed due to it being the majority language. Also, if he will be in the bilingual section, English will eventually come (they say it takes two years for non-speaking English or in my case French families). So he will eventually learn English at school. This is why if you want him speaking Spanish I would start now with as much as you can. For example with playing Spanish music and singing Spanish songs to him. If you speak Spanish, I would perhaps speak Spanish to him when your daughter is at school and then English when she is home.
I would love to add Spanish to our mix, but unfortunately the school doesn't offer it until later! But I'm just happy with my kids learning French, since I only speak one language, at least they have that opportunity. So interesting to read about your daughter's progress and when the switch of dominate language happened. Does she still get regular exposure from a Spanish-speaking nanny? Does she chat away in Spanish with her?
I wasn't able to figure out how to change the Netflix language audio for the TV and I only knew how to do this for the iPad. But figured out by chance when I lost my Apple remote and had to download the remote to my iPhone and then it gave me the option on how to change the language audio for Netflix on the TV! This is for others in case they also weren't sure.
Today for the first time, my daughter used a French phrase to describe something and she couldn't say what it was in English. I am not sure exactly what she was trying to say, because I can't spell French correctly to use google translate and I never heard the phrase myself.
Today my daughter asked me to please stop speaking English so she can speak French with the nanny. Then she started speaking entirely in French, having a proper conversation using words I’ve never heard her use before. She has really progressed a lot in the last few months. It’s amazing. Now, I’m just waiting for her brother to start speaking.
My daughter has said many times now that she is fluent in French. It seems to have really clicked for her. Of course there is a great deal she needs to learn. But she is confident and speaking a lot more French to different people.
We were at a birthday party and the French girl's mother spoke to my daughter in English, but my daughter must have known she was French so asked her in French if she spoke French lol.
In the park she heard a man speak French to his son and she asked him in French if he spoke English and then they had a little conversation in French. The man spoke to me in French, but I explained I don't speak French. He was surprised and asked how my daughter speaks French and said she is doing very well. This made me proud.
Also, today my daughter was telling me a story about her French teachers and how they praised the children for listening etc. She told me the exact words in French and translated what it meant in English for me. It's amazing how fast she has learned.
Now my son is at the beginning stages and I have the same thoughts "Will he learn to speak French? How long will it take? Will he be fluent?" I know every child is different. I suspect he will take longer, as his sister is naturally gifted in language I think. But he has the advantage of being exposed to it from a younger age...starting out more passively, but now he is in school so absorbing it more as he has more exposure. I promised myself once he turns four I will start making an effort with flash cards etc...like I did with his sister. I think it helps speed things up when they understand a bit of vocabulary. Plus it helps me learn as we go through the cards and also because I make the effort to make the cards it helps me learn as well.
Nellie, thanks for answering all my questions. 😀 I'm just curious, why did you switch between French, English only and then Bilingual? Funny, you say that about the English schools. It is actually considered quite the opposite here. At least in the early stages. The French don't learn to read or write until CP, while here children in nursery (age 3!) are learning to write, phonics and basic math (counting). My daughter from the age of 3 came home with homework every week, that had phonics, tracing, writing her name and counting. But to be honest, I didn't really do much of it with her, because she seemed to already know it all from school. I did have her practice the writing though. Now my son has started MS (age 3, almost 4). But he too has started phonics, math and tracing. I practice phonics with him, because he skipped nursery as he has to start school early in the French system, so phonics is all new to him. My daughter, age 5, gets 4 books a week to read to me in English, plus sentence structure activities, and lots of writing.
I did hear, that in CP the French side then gets very difficult with loads of homework. I'm a little nervous about that! They start early here in the U.K. In the US, I think it is a year behind. At least when I grew up there. Because my daughter has a level of homework I had in first grade and she is of kindergarten age for US. Quite interesting how it is all different everywhere. At my kids' school they basically follow French curriculum and British. So now on the British side they are learning to read, write and bring home lots of homework. On the French side there is no homework, but they will start learning cursive. 😳 I didn't learn this until second grade!
Nellie, I found a paragraph in my updates where you tell me a little of your background, how you learned French at school (half day French and half day English). I'm curious a little more, how old were you when you started? Did your parents speak any French? When did you feel you were fluent? How about your daughter's school? How do they teach? I find it interesting how different schools do a bilingual curriculum and how they decide on it. My daughter's school does one week English and one week French, but starting from Thursdays. They used to do every other day swapping the language a few years ago, but decided this weekly method is better for learning, which I agree!
She used to be very shy, which is when I was a little worried that she would never be properly fluent if she didn't use the language. The best thing we did was have the French au pair. That's when she actually would speak French and freely (without me insisting). I explained the au pair doesn't speak a word of English and this worked well (the au pair could speak English, but understood not to). I told my daughter a couple months before how we were getting an au pair for the summer and how fun she would be. I let her be part of the process to select one so she was excited for the au pair to arrive. Then I explained that the au pair doesn't speak English, so I need her to try her best to speak French, or the au pair might feel shy or want to go home because we don't speak her language. From day one, my daughter spoke to her in French and her progress in the two months we had the au pair was huge. After the au pair left we've continued with French support 2 hours on Thursday after school and 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday. We borrow other people's au pairs and they only speak French to my kids. They say my son still does not understand, which is normal as he just started the school, so my daughter has to translate for him sometimes. I am hoping this does not hinder his learning, if she is always translating for him between the au pair! I will give it a year, until I ask her to stop, as he will need a year I think to learn French at school. My daughter seems to be a bit quicker at learning languages.
After the au pair left, my daughter was shy about speaking French to her friend's parents in front of me...but slowly she is starting to not be shy. I think part of the reason she spoke French yesterday was because she ran off ahead to speak to her friend's mom...so she was alone with the mom and I was 20 feet ahead. I assumed she ran off and was speaking English with her, but as I got closer, I was surprised to hear my daughter speaking French and she continued to speak French even in front of me, which I was very happy about! I just smiled at the mom and didn't say a word (we had already spoken earlier while in the park). I didn't want to interrupt the French speaking with my English!
Nellie, you are very lucky you learned French at school! I know you wrote your background somewhere here, I need to find it again to remind myself of the details.
That is amazing to hear your update. I was wondering when her French would catch up with her Spanish! You are very lucky to be able to help her learn 3 languages. I WISH I at least spoke French so I could help a little more. I'm sure your daughter will be able to separate and distinguish the languages better when she's a little older. She's still quite young and it's amazing that she can speak all 3! Is she still 2 like it says on your profile or is she 3 now? How much English exposure does she get at school? Do the other kids already know English, or are they all French trying to learn English?
Another quick update of progress. Every day we go to the park after school and there are other parents there, a lot of French speaking parents that also speak English. My daughter ran off to chat with one parent. She always speaks English to the parents, even if they speak French to her...when I used to ask her to please speak French to them...she would just giggle and cover her face and act like she didn't know or was too shy. But today for the first time when I went over to her I heard she was speaking French to the mom! She continued speaking French to the mom as we walked together. It made me so proud. She has made so much progress in the last few months.
Recently, my daughter has been saying she is so used to French. This morning, I said to her, that it's great she understands everything. She told me she's also used to speaking it. She speaks it with the French sitters we have during the weekend for 3 hours Saturday and Sunday. I'm amazed at her progress. Her brother will say the odd word in French, but I understand he has just begun his journey and it could take 6 months to two years! When I spoke to others they say it takes about two years in the school for the bilingual classes to become fluent in both. I have a lot going on taking a full-time course to train to become a birthing and breastfeeding teacher, but I kind of wish I held off a year so I can focus on learning French. But I guess I can do a little bit now and save the learning French for summer perhaps!
My daughter has also been saying that she wants to transfer to the fully French class, but the reason for this I think is she wants to wear her own clothes and not wear a uniform lol. The full French class do not wear a uniform. I explained to her that the classes are taught only in French and no English. She said this is fine because she can speak and understand the French. Of course I will not transfer her, because I want her to learn in English as well. She told me that it's fine because she already speaks English really well lol. If I could put her in the fully French program for a year and then transfer her back, I would. But it is difficult to get a spot in the bilingual section. I know a few moms that want to transfer their kids from fully French to the bilingual section.
To anyone who might be reading this, or stumble upon this and are in a similar position: Do not give up at home if at first you feel your kids are not speaking etc. It takes time, but once they start to speak the second language, you'll be amazed at how fast it takes off. Also, the best thing we did to help facilitate this was the summer au pair. It made such a difference!
I signed my son up for an after school football club, which is only with kids in his year, what they call MS. There are 3 different MS classes, two bilingual and one fully French. I snuck a peek to see how my son was doing. I am happy to report that he was having a good time, playing and being silly with other boys in the class. Whenever I ask who he played with at school, he always replies no one. But, clearly, he is playing with some people. Maybe he doesn't know their names or he forgets. But for the 45 minutes he had the class, I saw he had bonded with a few of the kids and it definitely looked like he was making friends.
As for my daughter, I am still so impressed with her learning and when the teachers speak to her, I have no idea what they are saying, but she responds to what they are saying and tells her brother in English. It's a good thing they are in separate classes most of the day though, as he will have to figure it out for himself...otherwise she would end up just being his translator and he might not learn!
What about signing her up for daily summer camp for an entire summer? But a better suggestion would be signing her up at local public school for one year. This is enough to jump start the English. Plus she will make some English speaking friends that you can set play dates up with once she returns to home schooling. May I ask, why did you decide to home school?
I guess I got my wish! Today after school, my son finally started playing with a boy in his class! They played so well together and this made me happy. The boy is French, but speaks some English. So this is helpful, as this opens up the lines for communication. I know it will take time for my son to speak French, even though he has been exposed and says the odd word or phrase...such as when he is finished on the toilet he says in French "J'ai fini" (I'm done). Lol. This is a big step. It is so important to make friends at school. This helps kids enjoy school. My son has been having a good start, but I was worried as he said he plays alone etc if his sister isn't there. I know from experience it takes time for him to make friends. But as a mom, I always get anxious for it to happen faster. Also, anther big step, he finally ate his lunch! The past two weeks he refused to try any of the lunches served and survived on a piece of plain bread! Today he said he loved the lunch and the teacher confirmed he ate it all up. 😀
Today I asked my DD if she played with her brother after lunch (last few days they did) and she said no because today she played with her girl crew. I asked who was in the girl crew. She named four girls and they were French and one only speaks French still (not a word of English). So I asked her, what language does the girl crew speak? My daughter said French and I asked if she spoke to them in English or French and she told me French! I thought this must be the case, at least with the girl who only speaks French. But it made me happy to hear my daughter is also speaking French with the other girls as well. It's good practice and helps her learn. I hope my son is able to make friends soon. He is one of the youngest and I feel it will take a while to make a friend. At least he sees his sister sometimes so he is not alone completely.
My daughter forgot her bag inside the school and was told to go ask the secretary for her bag. I was fully expecting her to ask this in English. It completely caught me by surprise when Madeleine went up to the secretary and spoke to her in French! I was amazed that my daughter is now really getting used to speaking French. I did not tell her to speak French. The lady did not speak to her in French. She knows the secretary is French, but can speak English, but she still spoke to her in French. I was so proud. This is a big step forward, as my daughter usually would just speak in English if she knows they speak English and would speak French if she thought they did not speak English.
Also, I forgot to mention that, with young children, usually the drop-off is not the easiest early on. My son did this with all his new nurseries. Each time he started somewhere new, first day he ran right in so excited...only then to start getting a little clingy or teary the following days because he probably realised he did not know anyone and I was not there. Once he made a friend or got used to the people this stopped. But he would occasionally get clingy sometimes...as did a lot of the other kids his age. I think by age 4 or 5 this stops for most kids. Although, I did see some 5-year-olds in my daughter's class crying and get clingy at drop-off on occasion. Luckily my daughter did not do this. She stopped this from age 3.
Thanks, Nellie! I enjoy reading about your daughter's progress as well! Today, my son ran right in with his sister without looking back at me...so I hope this continues!
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9