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That I my DD won't grow up knowing my native language (French)

(71 Posts)
coucou80 Sun 09-Jun-13 03:16:40

Hiya there ladies,

Silly o'clock but suffer from insomnia and DH is working. Just literally been thinking, I really am scared that DD (due on 27th November) will never end up growing up knowing French as her first language (as well as English as DH is English) as I only ever use French when I go back to France with my family and that is only once a year and English is pretty much my first language these days. Have been reading the 'Bilingual babies' thread thingy and much of what was written there ringed true to me. Strange as it seems, I feel very strange when I speak in French and words just seem more natural in English. Any suggestions at all?

Mimishimi Sun 09-Jun-13 03:25:09

It won't be her first language ( in daily life) and she probably won't be as fluent as you might like but there's no reason she won't be able to speak it well, especially with France so close to you. I live in Australia. When I was in my teens, I worked in a cafe for a Frenchman ( horrid boss but not relevant grin). He and his wife spoke to their children only in French and I am fairly sure they were quite fluent. Many of his regular customers also spoke to their children (and me!!) in French. Some would make a point of replying in English but most answered in French.

coucou80 Sun 09-Jun-13 03:31:15

That is very true Mimishimi - I just feel even for me speaking in French is going to be hard, as I never really use it and my everyday language is English now, plus DH has no knowledge of it at all. Sorry to here he was such a horrid boss! (Not all of us are like that lol!wink) What time is it in Australia now? X

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 09-Jun-13 03:36:09

DD has just started saying "wader" instead of "water" since she lives in Canada. It breaks my heart to hear her Canadian accent.

You could do OPOL with her.

coucou80 Sun 09-Jun-13 03:38:55

MrsTerryPrachett - Have read it is really really beneficial and the only way they can actually learn to be bilingual. You won't believe it though, even when I speak to my parents I sometimes can't think of the right French word for what I mean, although that normally happens with pregnancy stuff for example as I don't know it in French!

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 09-Jun-13 03:45:47

It would all flood back if you spoke some French every day. Could you volunteer with immigrants (from Francophone countries) or even start watching French TV or listening to French podcasts. My Italian came back after only a weeks' holiday in Venice. I opened my mouth and there it was. smile

coucou80 Sun 09-Jun-13 03:47:20

Yes that is true, but here in the north east there aren't exactly a lot of immigrants unfortunately!confused Venice is a lovely city btw.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 09-Jun-13 03:51:52

Lovelier when you speak the language... I went with Canadian DH who people assumed was American. We walked into one restaurant, very much for locals. We were completely ignored until I just said, "scusi?" and the waiter suddenly was all smiles and said, "oh, you speak Italian". The whole place chatted to us then.

I've used my French in Rwanda, Laos, France, Canada. You never know when it will be useful. Can you tell I am passionate about people speaking another language? Also, I'm living in Canada partially because I speak French. They give you points.

MrsMook Sun 09-Jun-13 04:24:47

My nephews are half Irish/ half Japanese. Their mum speaks Japanese to them and they are quite fluent for speaking, and are now learning the characters. They are also doing brilliantly at learning Gaelic.

They've had some long holidays to their grandparents in Japan, and translate for them when their grandparents visit.

I'd like DSs to learn a little Gaelic- more cultural awareness than as serious language learning as it's a bit of a niche language. DH has never used it as a first language, but it does come back when it's being used around him. Recently he was working in Norway with people of lots of nationalities. In the evening they all split back into their first languages, so he and anoter Irishman decided to chat in Gaelic- everyone stopped to ask what language they were talking in as they didn't recognise it and didn't realise Ireland had it's own language!

Mimishimi Sun 09-Jun-13 04:38:09

You could get your DH to do the Pimsleur courses. He would know how to speak a a fair bit by the time your DD is born. They are pretty good and much cheaper to buy them as audiobooks on than as CD's . My DD started French last year for school and she's consistently doing well thanks to these courses . Make it a point of singing her songs, saying simple phrases to her in French etc. Lots of childrn thrive in bilingual environments where only one parent speaks the language but only if that parent makes an effort to teach it to them.

justwondering72 Sun 09-Jun-13 06:14:25

Hi op

How long have you been in England? Why have you stopped speaking French? Do you visit / have visits from French family and friends? Have you made contact with any other French speakers in your area?

There are loads of other ways to help encourage your dd to speak French - music, boss, dvds, spreading with relatives etc.

I'm Scottish, living in France and friends with loads of bilingual English-french families. They pretty much all do one parent, one language, with varying degrees of success varying with their own situation. But one of the keys is consistently sticking to their own language with their children. Does your OH speak French? Even if English is your home language, there are.lots of ways to encourage and develop her bilingualism - but it all starts with you spreading French to her.

chebella Sun 09-Jun-13 06:24:42

Hi, I'm in Italy, my Ds speaks English and Italian - persevere with OPOL - it really does work ( great as well for passive aggression 'well, what a rude thing he/she did!' Type observations when you know no one else can - hopefully!- understand you!). Of course you feel like you are missing some French - our 'older' brains seem to jettison infrequently used words - so what? Push on! It will be a magical gift to give your child, I promise. Maybe try to meet a couple of other french-speakers with kids - I think as children get older, playing with other little ones 'in' the language helps to keep it fun/relevant/not just the weird thing mummy does! P.s. feel for your insomnia - classic time of night for over-thinking!

partyondude Sun 09-Jun-13 06:38:07

I have a native English speaking friend who studied languages at uni. She speaks only French to her daughter who at 3 is pretty much bilingual.
You will still have the language capability and the more exposure you have to it the more it will come back.
Good luck. It would be a fantastic opportunity for your child.

galwaygirl Sun 09-Jun-13 06:48:14

Hi OP, my DH was the same as you as in after 10 years in the UK he felt way more comfortable with English than his native language, dreamt in English, forgot words etc. however once he got into the swing of using it with DD it all came back to him. French is such a big language that there are so many resources available to complement you speaking French to your DD. With a little effort you will be fine and it really is a huge gift to your DD.
I find it amazing that DD doesn't seem to notice a difference between someone asking her 'what does a cat say' in either language for example. She is not talking much yet but uses English for some things and Swedish for others just now and it's really cute.
Like someone else above I'm Irish and am thinking I really should introduce some Irish ASAP. It's more about the sounds when they're small, making sure they don't lose the ability to hear or make sounds that are specific to a certain language.

Wildwaterfalls Sun 09-Jun-13 06:55:28

Hi OP - We're doing OPOL and I felt a bit odd at first speaking my native language, having lived in the UK now for 15 years. But as another poster said - it all came flooding back really quickly. Very nice actually - I'm remembering lots of lovely children's words / phrases from my own childhood. Good luck!

SuiGeneris Sun 09-Jun-13 06:55:30

OP: I understand your predicament as it is painful to feel you have list fluency in your first language. Getting it back is easier than you think though: try to read at least 50pc on French, start listening to French radio and look for the French equivalent of MN. Also put an ad in MN local for French-speaking mothers-to-be, so you can refresh your French now and the baby can hear you speak to other adults in French and have little French-speaking playmates later on.
Speak and sing to the bump (weird, I thought) and baby in French and get DH to start a French course. He will then be better placed to learn alongside the baby. My DH is English and I am Italian, we did/do all of the above and, 4 years and two DCs later, DH's kid-related vocab is quite impressive.
Also later on you can limit TV to French programmes for children (or mostly, because some cbeebies stuff is so well-done you might want to use it) and make sure that whatever you read to DC is in French (even though the actual book may be written in English, you just translate it on the spot). Do try and you will be pleased at the results.

TanteRose Sun 09-Jun-13 07:00:51

If you do nothing else, make sure you read bedtime stories to them in French.

It makes a big difference

Amandinefau Sun 09-Jun-13 07:02:14

You could get an internet radio so that you can get a "French atmosphere" at home and update your vocab. Saturday and Sunday mornings are exclusive "French radio mornings" and nobody complains (well DH is asleep and DS is playing with his Duplo). There are quite a lot of bilingual toys as well.

Branleuse Sun 09-Jun-13 07:16:23

you need to speak to her in french. as her mother if youre the primary care giver it will be one of her first languages and she will be bilingual.
my dp is French and we do OPOL and my dd 5 goes to Saturday morning French school.
its not as strong as her English but she has absolutely no problems when we go to france in communicating. if you put the effort in, it will still be her mother tongue

CSIJanner Sun 09-Jun-13 07:25:40

An understandable worry but it is one you can work on.

One family here runs a French group for children. French families are encourage to attend but all are welcome. You can only spek French at the group. Also at home, they only speak French unless their DF is around. The trick apparently was to answer back in your mother tongue even if your child answers you back in English, and pretty soon, it doesn't matter what language they are asked in, they can automatically answer. French cartoon/baby programmes on DVD help, as do the radio and singing etc etc.

And I agree with PP about gently encouraging DH to attend classes. One of my v good friends is Greek. She didn't have a group but enrole her DC in Greek classes when iPhone was old enough and made it a father-son activity where they both learnt the language together. It was a bit discouraging for a while, but my friend took her son back to home for holidays each year and then all of a sudden, the language penny dropped.

My DM's biggest regret was that her father didn't teach his children his mother tongue, so they felt like they missed out. Only, my DM did the same to me as DF didnt understand it and its one of my biggest regrets.

Jaynebxl Sun 09-Jun-13 07:30:54

I really recommend this. I'm not a native French speaker but I used to live in a French speaking country and wanted to give my children chance to at least hear another language so when they were little I played this cd loads and sang along.

From my experience of bilingual families I'd go with the recommendation above too to really try and stick with OPOL. It's such a gift if you can help your children grow up with a second language.

Finally do you still have family in France? You could enlist their help via Skype, visits etc.

Rosa Sun 09-Jun-13 07:36:08

You can if you want.. It just takes some effort on your part. It is easier now with technology, dvds, internet , start imerging yourself now and bringing the french back, then when your baby is born try to talk french even if English is the first language at home it doesn't matter you talk french to the baby . I know of a few people who don't speak the partners language . Its hard for you to loose your native language . Often I don't remember a word and I just ask the dds!!!!!

Fairyegg Sun 09-Jun-13 07:41:05

If you want baby to be fluent then do opol, loads of people do. Yabu thinking that you can't.

PicardyThird Sun 09-Jun-13 07:51:48

I'm a native English speaker living in Germany. When dc1 came along I spoke only German in almost all areas of daily life apart from work and had been for years - I felt the same, that it would be odd switching back to English, and identified most strongly with German (I had no contact with my family back home, which didn't help one bit). I actually spoke German to dc1 for his first few months and then very consciously made the switch. It felt natural in no time, stuff came flooding back and now I am incredibly glad to be passing on to my now two dc my linguistic and cultural heritage. They are effectively bilingual, though their German is somewhat stronger as we do OPOL and the rest of their day-to-day environment is all German - but we do a lot of books, DVDs etc in English and it has all helped.

You can do it. You will have to be v strict about OPOL though. I speak English to my two wherever we are, even when with non-English speakers (I provide a translation where needed), and shrug off the stares and comments I get in this rather, um, provincial part of the country smile

WestleyAndButtockUp Sun 09-Jun-13 07:58:04

I genuinely think bilingualism is one of the greatest gifts you could give your child.

And (therefore) you would be a bad parent if you did not give that gift.

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