I am still in shock. As I am trying to write, I find myself watching the recording of the new hearing, and I understand that DSK has been granted bail. Hopefully this will allow everybody (including me) to calm down. In the meantime, CNN, BBC and France 24 are my new best friends. The truth is: I am stunned by the comments I have read in the French press. I feel like I don’t understand the French any more. Something must have gone badly wrong with me while I was living in London. Little by little, I have become less French. Let me list all the reactions that bug me and please let me know if I have missed anything:
Posts By: Muriel Demarcus
Article first published as The Truth About raising Bilingual Children on Technorati.
When friends see my daughters, they are amazed that they can speak English without any hint of a French accent, and reply to me in French as if it was completely natural to switch from one language to the other. I am obviously very proud of my children, but I can’t help thinking that:
- It was, and still is hard work to make them speak French. My younger one especially has explained to me countless times that French is boring and, by the way, she can’t be bothered to learn to speak it. They go to British schools and are more British than French by now;
- It is me whom my friends should be amazed at, as on top of a full time job and taxiing them to their various after-school activities, I try to teach the girls some French at least twice a week, and once a day when I am ready to put up a good, old-fashioned fight against them, which can happen after two weeks of taking vitamin supplements and usually doesn’t last very long anyway.
In short, it is not as glamorous as it looks. To make matters even worse, the selective nurseries will test your little darlings at age three and, if they are coming from a bilingual family, their English vocabulary will be narrower than “proper English kids” and usually this will be held against them. I also know some kids who started speaking very late because they were coming from bilingual or even trilingual families (parents who speak different languages and communicate in English). Everybody was worried that something was wrong with them, whereas they were just confused.
The truth is, there is no such thing as perfectly bilingual. I would say that English is my daughters’ primary language, and French will remain my primary language.
On top if this, French is awfully complicated. My daughters have a tendency to use the colloquial form if “you” (“tu”) with everybody, even with doctors or policemen. Most of the times it makes them laugh, but some were really offended. French can be really stuck-up, you see. (I would know, I am French.)
So, all in all, is it worth it? Of course it is, especially in the longer run. But not as much as I thought. You see, I have seen kids really messed up with this whole “bilingual” fashion, and they ended up having to undergo years of speech therapy and seemed very, very unhappy. My advice : Happiness prevails. Life is too short. If it’s too big a deal, stick to English.
A few useful resources for busy Mums:cned : This is the site I use to teach some French to the girlsCenter For Applied Linguistics
American Association of Family Physicians
This post can also be found on Technorati: http://technorati.com/women/article/french-style/
In France, you see, we have good state schools (entirely free, even the pens and the books…). If you decide to go private, you are not going to pay for the teachers, just the additional management/discipline. But everybody thinks that it is REALLY expensive (we are talking about €100 a month here). So what do French do? They complain. Too many children in a class, you see. Private schools are so expensive that it is unfair (I think that I understood the meaning of expensive when I moved to London).