Out of the mouths of babes!

Bless him, my little guy (just 6)and I were just having a discussion about the kitchen bench (about his toast!), he forgot what it was was called and I said ‘a bench’ and he asked me ‘is that le or la’ :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: I then had to explain that in English we dont’ have that - how has he never noticed until now! :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


You’re very lucky, Tory, mine don’t know it’s called a bench, their English is only slightly better than the rest of their friends. We’re a francophone household and so they’ve never had an English input, well I do try but it just isn’t the same. We got Netflix on the conditon that they watched stuff in English but there we were watching The Crown “en famille” in French as usual…!

It is a shame that they aren’t becoming bilingual, as it can be a great advantage in the world of work.
My grandsons in Munich were spoken to by the native speaker at home and, of course, German outside the house.

This is the problem, my otherhalf is french, I’m the only English contact and I’ve always been out at work, once home they were in bed when younger, have mountains of homework to do now and I’m still not in early either! It would have been ideal if they’d grown up in the UK: French at home and English outside the house but they’re French and happy with that. Ours is a good example of why we talk about a langue maternelle, the langue paternelle hardly comes into play here :rofl:

At least you will be able to help with English from school!


There’s a family round the corner… I speak English to the kids and French to the parents… or the other way around… depending on the topic and everyone’s mood…

Whatever, it is fun for all…


We found that children can be very good at helping you learn French without judging your capabilities too much, although also making you feel rather stupid! A long time ago, in the early days, I was talking about the farm dogs with the 6 year old son of a neighbour and I asked if the dog was a girl or a boy.

“No” he replied, “it’s a dog”.


Second story about me and the same wise boy. I asked him if he drank water out of the tap or out of a bottle (in retrospect, how suburban can you be) and he said, deadly serious, “No, out of a glass”. It’s like a Morecambe and Wise punchline.


sitting round the table in the bibliothèque with a group of 6 year old kids. One was introducing me to a new “member” of our group…

This is Stella, she speaks a little strangely at times. :wink:
Whereupon, I came straight back… apologizing for my strange French accent, due to me being English… :zipper_mouth_face:

Are you English? asked my young friend with amazement… which absolutely made my day :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

1 Like

Awwww that is a shame!

I totally get that! My dh grew up in the UK with a French mother and English father. MIL didn’t speak English so they spoke French as a family and he was at home all day with her and spoke very little English - apparently not even being able to count past 10 when he started school at 5. We have always had strict English at home (as that is dh and my language together, even when we tried to speak French it was impossible!) and French out of the house / with friends. Even with that when the eldest was 7 we moved back to Oz and he had a strong French accent (so my family said!) when he spoke English and would regularly come in from school (before we left) speaking French to us. All 3 kids now bi-lingual, was hardest for the middle who was 9 when we got back from Oz and he’d not been old enough to speak French (2) before we left. It makes me so proud of them!

The best comment from the kids was when we’d been back maybe 6 months or a year and the eldest (then 14) had caught up with his French and turned around to me one day and said ‘MUM you NEVER conjugate your verbs’ :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes:


How long did it take for your french language skills to become good enough to chat properly with your neighbour ?

Depends what you mean by properly… from Day 1 we had to talk French since no-one in the village spoke English.

To begin with, conversations revolved around the weather and cars… so I would prepare a few short phrases with the help of my dictionary… then summon up my courage.

It’s surprising how quickly one can move on… listening is an art in itself… and reading the body language/gestures… that’s another language-tool and it all helps paint the picture…

So, from the start… making a point of saying something every day…

and I quickly learned how to ask them to repeat something… or to slow down… :slight_smile:

2 years of talking every day to my best friend who then became my neighbour, usually coffee every morning, aperos in the evening and we ate together about once a week. Before we moved into MIL old house next to them I’d lived for a couple of years in another village and was very rubbish (the first village we lived in was tiny, our neighbours were Dutch / Swedish, another Italian that spoke neither French nor English and a mad French guy who had travelled all over the world and wanted to only speak English with us). When we moved in next to my friend I’d guess we were speaking 90% English, when we left 4 years later it was 100% French but took I’d say 2 years to get there. This was without any study. If I’d actually done some work it would have been quicker but had young kids / babies at the time!

interesting comments, before we left York 18 months ago we had private lessons with a French language teacher originally from Vendee and now teaches there locally. Since moving to Côtes D’Armor we have continued by zoom!
I get nervous trying to speak openly because of pronunciation and accent but seem to able to read French…as it doesn’t need such a quick brain as when communicating verbally. I get embarrassed/feel a fool when trying in say a shop, but my wife less so and is more adventurous.

We live on the edge of a small town on the north coast (so not in deepest rural isolated but lovely Brittany) have neighbours (of retirement age like us) who have no English who nod politely but make no effort to do more!
They obviously can’t or don’t want to move on from that.
We are finding it difficult to break out from a Brit circle, we do have French contacts…plumber, electrician etc, with whom we connect by part broken French/English.
But now our language skills seem not be not moving forward… any suggestions.

Have you joined any French associations, charities, whatever … there will be all sorts of things going on… and you should be able to find something of interest.

It takes courage, but is so worthwhile taking that step … try and attend local French events… see and be seen… and get chatting. Folk will do more than nod, if you actually start a conversation…
Ask a question… that should get them going…


Guess this is the key point " it takes courage, but is so worthwhile taking that step"… embarrassment is the thing to overcome, and joining local associations , Good suggestion.

Hard to do for many but break out of the Brit circle, watch french tv, listen to french radio, read, study, it’s a long struggle, courage ! :wink:

1 Like

dh = dear husband
MIL = Mother in law

I agree with Stella, best thing I did was getting involved in our village association, I now run the stitch n bitch group and am the organiser of the Christmas market (3 years as of yesterday - was very sad - no decos / animations / Pere Noel or food!) and know sooo many people - rarely a face I don’t know and talk to in the village.

Volunteers are always in short supply… a willing pair of extra hands, will make you best pals with the whole team… :wink:

don’t need great language skills to hang onto the end of a rope, move tables… sweep/mop/whatever