It's nice to be French

Just chatting over lunch about the fact that our friend Jose is Spanish, to which my daughter Jasmine added that 'She is French'. I corrected her and explained 'No she is English' but she answered me back with 'Well Mummy - do we have a house in France?', 'Why Yes of course' I replied 'Well then, I am French and it's nice to be French'.

Ok then...

Beatcha Andrew. Failed four times, never bothered again. Si, in bocca al lupo...

Brian, I failed my O level English twice, got it third time round (all the others first time round no probs). "A"s in Italian and French first time round, "A"s at A-level too and on from there, languages eh! In bocca al lupo ;-)

I've just thought of a paradox here. I have three books for my daughter and one for me on the way, given not having 'done' English since the 1960s. Then I remembered. Oddly enough, I have O levels in French, Latin and German but failed English. It was the three above at B, B and A that saved my bacon, allowed me to stay on at school to do A levels and get into university. Strictly speaking, for Cambridge entrance I required English A-level. In the two years after fail 1, I failed another three times! English Literature I have at O and A levels. Language, nothing but failure. And here I am opining on a young generation between two languages!

Thanks Brian, it wasn't that easy trying to fit it in around 3 under 3!

Yow, I left school in 1966! I have never taught English but write academic texts with total nonchalance, which is about as useful for my daughters as a French grammar for Mongolians in Japanese. I have just ordered four books (€12, so much!) from Amazon, three for my daughter and one for absolute beginners for me. I think you did well by doing a TEFL course, wish I could get my head into that too...

Totally agree Brian, that's why I did the TEFL course. I wanted to see how to teach English to kids so I could support my brood. It's been a long time since I did English and even then we didn't cover all the Grammar that my parents generation did. A good lesson for me too!

Interesting reading this post. It reminded me that this year they start doing English in my nine year old's class. I was talking to her about it this morning and said I would have to buy her a book so that we could work on it. She told me that I have books to work from but I thought a moment and told her I better buy a book for learning English from a French perspective. To compliment it I should buy a book of contemporary grammar for myself because I have forgotten how many rules work and because I take them for granted may not be able to explain them. So effectively that puts me back in the learning seat with her and I seriously think that is a good thing.

We could start the girls on C#, SAS, HTML and Basic then & not worry about the French! Between us we can cover at least 5 programming languages...only problem is, computers don't bounce as well as hardback books!

I learned a 'second' language from when I was few weeks old, even with long gaps between times as a child and youth not speaking the second, in my early twenties it came back in literally days. It is the advantage of early learning. The language capacity of a 0 to 3 or 4 year old is apparently ernormous and then begins to slow down gradually but is never gone. Linguistics people, rather than language teachers, say that and it is more or less what Andrew is saying. But I too have the split second difference between my two main languages that marks the dominant out distinctly.

Mine are only 5 and 3 Geraldine but I guess that's how they'll play things too as they grow up. Nationality is one thing, half French, half English, but cultural references define them far more and that's where the 50% English shrinks to close to 0% as they're 100% French at the moment. Got my work cut out...!

nationality is an interesting topic... my two girls are 9 and French and English although admittedly more French as we live in France. They sometimes choose to be English when it suits them, i.e. if Britain are doing better in the Olympics!! Also to show off to their friends as it makes them special. Then when in England they flaunt their 'Frenchness" as they like to be different. It all seems much simpler when you're younger, it's when you get older that it's hard to know where you fit in!

Interesting Elaine but the 7 to 17 for language learning is a little out, the 0 to 7 period is far more important for native standard and on the whole from 7 years onwards it's already starting to get a little late unless it's true immersion with native speakers otherwise it's more likely to always be a second language or even foreign language. But hey, anything's better than nothing. I was still monolingual at 30 and was trilingual by my late 30s but even with a masters in French and teaching French here in France and using French as my daily language with everyone around me including my OH (but English with my kids at least 50% of the time), It'll never be my maternal language, there's always a split second difference between the two!

Slightly off topic, but still relevant to language learning. We have an amazing "WAVE" of interest in Ireland for computer programming amongst kids - hacking and geek has suddenly become popular and cool.

Point is, kids are learning to program in html, html5, php etc etc, and producing games and apps adults are in awe of. The founders are an entrepreneur, Bill Liao from Australia, now living in Cork, and a 19 yr old Cork student, who now runs his own company. Bill starts the kids as young as 6 or 7, and the free clubs welcome kids up to about 17. The clubs are called Coderdojo s if you want to google them - now all over the world!

Between 7 and 17 is the time to teach kids new languages (inc programming) as the younger they start, the more likely it becomes a native language, as opposed to being "fluent". I am in awe at what these kids can produce, so it's never to early to start with them.

I do agree, that kids can get confused, for example, my brother is married to a french girl, the kids didn't actually speak until they were 3 or 4, but then both english and french came out - both fluent. They speak english now as first language but french is right there too as their Ma constantly speaks in french (esp when giving out LOL)

It's just so sad that we as adults cannot learn so quick...

good attitude, Jasmine!

Thanks Catharine. Just to forewarn, the oldest is 11 with a reading age of about 4 in either language because of the Down Syndrome and the other is 9 and at this precise moment reading Harry Potter book five and has 'Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours' (grown up version) for practising French reading nearby. Judge for yourself against that and I will happily accept if you think what you have is right. Happy to pass on to Andrew too. But I'll only agree on the reading totally anyway.

Andrew. Freeview has such a wide range of children's programmes it is overwhelming, but is also certainly more varied than any other European country in terms of the offer and age spread. Do it, perhaps use it as a supplementary and do not be afraid of too young for language learning. As language specialists say, the earlier the better and with good incentives even better.

Many thanks Catharine, that's much appreciated and I have taken onboard the UK TV idea and will try and sort something out once we get ourselves sorted/moved etc. ;-)

Cool - and I have loads of books for you two - am going to pass to Brian at the Bordeaux meet up and then let him decide what is too young for his two and pass onto you A - reading is key methinks! x

Brian, they are individuals after all, we're all different and don't always need or appreciate labels! Good thing is with mine that the trip to the UK was a déclic for them and now they realise that English is a real living language and it's motivated them.

Oh, Andrew, get the point entirely. Mine cannot figure out what they are at all. Not fish nor fowl, one might say. Which, oddly enough, I find good. Saves all that jingoism that might come later in life if it sticks. My younger one will start English at school this year and whilst she speaks, reads and write well, she has none of the rules of grammar she will have to learn, but has the French ones already from the last couple of years. Yours will catch up.