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Can I learn French together with my baby??
Thread poster: dawna
dawna
English
Nov 28, 2005

Hi there. I'm new to this site and was intrigued by all the expertise on this subject.
Both my husband and I are English Canadians. Neither of us are bilingual. Saying that, I now can speak French to my son who is 21 months. I have many French relatives and a very good friend who helps me along the way. For the most part I have learned alongside my son since he was 10 months old. He now understands both French and English VERY well. I speak to him in French quite often. Here's the problem: I do not know EVERYTHING in French that he needs to know and therefore only speak the things that I know. That is limited to certain activities, etc.
Will this be a problem for him? He already doesn't talk as well as others his age because I speak to him in both languages. I have read here that I should AT LEAST be using OPOL. I really would like to continue speaking to him in French as I have learned so much with him and would like to continue on. I just hope he doesn't get all mixed up because for things that I don't understand (I will say that if I don't know something, I quickly call my friend and learn it) I then talk to him in English.

If you can follow my line of thinking, BRAVO! LOL

Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on the subject.


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 00:26
French to English
+ ...
could present a problem Nov 28, 2005

I hope I understood...The only potential problem I see is that you may be teaching him your mistakes, since you are so new to the language. The advantages he would receive from learning a foreign language (vocabulary and syntax) correctly could potentially be cancelled out by the disadvantages of learning it incorrectly.

My advice is get some children's books in French and read them aloud every day - you will both benefit


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 23:26
English to French
+ ...
why not? Nov 28, 2005

You're living in Canada, right? It should be very easy for the two of you to be exposed to French on a daily basis. As long as it's fun for your baby, I see no reason not to try.

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Robin Jackson  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:26
German to English
+ ...
Your speaking to him in French is great - singing is also a good idea Nov 28, 2005

Hi,
I am very interested in this subject, and I am at the moment teaching French and German to my children, who are older than yours. I think what you are doing is excellent. As a matter of fact I respectfully disagree with our colleague who wrote the following "I hope I understood...The only potential problem I see is that you may be teaching him your mistakes, since you are so new to the language. The advantages he would receive from learning a foreign language (vocabulary and syntax) correctly could potentially be cancelled out by the disadvantages..." I don't think you will "cancel out" any advantages he gains from your speaking to him just because you may make "mistakes." One good idea would be for you to listen together to tapes in French. You will find yourself speaking more and better French as you do that. Since he is 21 months old this is a great time for him to hear the different sounds of the language. Music and songs are a very good way to learn. You will be surprised how fast he learns this way. I am almost shocked at how fast children learn a foreign language, and they learn more the younger they are and the more they enjoy it. Mistakes eventually take care of themselves, as you learn more. I also think that when he sees you talking in French to other people (if you can arrange that), he will understand that it is a means of communication, and that will encourage him to learn more.


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Elena Pavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:26
Member (2005)
French to Italian
+ ...
As far as I was told.... Nov 28, 2005

... the most important thing is that you speak to your children the language that is more comfortable for you.
I am Italian, I live in France, my husband is French and we have three children. I have always spoken Italian to my children, because it was more natural for me; if you speak your native language, you are sure you can react, answer and face any situation with your baby.
The doctor has always told me: "You can speak different languages to a baby, but the important thing is that they remain well separated". Which means: Mum = Italian, Dad = French (in my case). Only in that way you are sure he can make the difference between the two languages and perfectly control both of them in the future. If you speak English to him and sometime French, you might confuse him, and he might learn a kind of "Frenglish" that nobody can understand.
On the other side, you can probably find funny computer software for young children to learn French (we have here in France for English, so you must surely have in Canada) or read him some French books from time to time. He can still learn French (children learn VERY fast!!!) with you, but in a different way.
Why not talking about that with your pediatrician? I am sure he/she will advise you the best.


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 07:26
German to English
Two languages Nov 28, 2005

I fully agree with Elena.
At best you are *introducing* your 21 month old baby to French, you will not be able to transmit the nuances, the intricate humour and culture connected to the language that a native speaker would. This is fine as an introduction. If you are serious about raising your child to be bilingual, think about sending him to a French immersion school, getting French native speaking babysitters, watch French cartoons with him on TV, check French children's videos out of the library, and best of all, visit a bilingual playgroup regularly. They're out there. The kid needs other toddlers in the same situation or he may feel too much pressure to perform and rebel (my 3 year old did and refused to answer me in English for a whole year!).

And have a set time where you speak to him in French only, so as to avoid Frenglish. Perhaps dinner times? Your husband speaks French too? Great! Then make dinner time French time. Make it fun, not a chore. (My parent's mistake, by the way.)

Otherwise, you will not be able to keep this up for much longer, your baby's ability to pick up this new language is far better than yours. He possesses the skill now and in his early years. You need to separate the languages. And you need to expose the child to native French. You also have to be dedicated, I have seen too many families just give up after the novelty had worn off.

Good luck! It's worth it.
sylvie


Added later: Just read your posting again, and see that your husband does not speak French. Well, then I suggest you restrict your French to a set time anyway. The key here is to separate the language from English.



[Edited at 2005-11-28 13:17]


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
French to English
Not necessarily true Nov 28, 2005

sarahl wrote:

You're living in Canada, right? It should be very easy for the two of you to be exposed to French on a daily basis. As long as it's fun for your baby, I see no reason not to try.


Yes, Canada has two official languages, but neither Anglophones nor Francophones are necessarily exposed to the other language on a daily basis. Montreal and Ottawa are the two cities where both languages co-exist. Otherwise, you have some TV channels (more English channels in Quebec than French channels in English Canada) as well as online newspapers. Just wanted to clear up that misconception


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