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to be slightly disappointed that my friend has stopped speaking French to her son

(14 Posts)
Happy36 Wed 12-Aug-15 13:50:31

My friend and I are both French, but live in Spain, and work in English. Our two sons are the same age (7) and are great friends. They attend the same British school, here in Spain, but are not in the same class.

At home, I speak in French to my two children, and my friend used to speak in French to her son. When the boys play together at each other´s homes, (approx. once a fortnight, more during the holidays), they speak to each other (and to my friend and I) in French. They don´t get to see each other often at school as their breaktimes are staggered and they don´t have any classes together.

For my son, this friend is his only regular opportunity to speak French apart from with me. We have a Jolie Ronde in our town but the class for his age group is at the same time as his football training and is quite a distance from our home (we don´t have a car). I have looked at other classes and groups online and they are all for non-native beginners.

So I was a little disappointed when my friend told me this week that she has stopped speaking French at home to her son. Whilst obviously our sons will remain friends, I expect that they will gradually switch to speaking Spanish to each other, and I feel a bit sad about this. However, I understand that in their family they should do as they please, so I know my feelings are somewhat unreasonable.

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 12-Aug-15 13:55:31

You're not u to be sad about your kids losing francophone friends, but honestly their French will be fine if you keep talking to them. And it's good that they have friends no matter what the language. Being trilingual is a pretty enviable position to be in too! Don't over think it.

Coffeemarkone Wed 12-Aug-15 13:56:34

yes it does seem a shame, for her son as well as yours.
Maybe you could have the child round more often and use it as a chance for your son to practice his French.
But to be honest using friendships for language practice is kind of dodgy ground IYKWIM.

AuntyMag10 Wed 12-Aug-15 13:58:35

So basically you're sad because your child will miss out his opportunity hmm

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 12-Aug-15 13:59:52

Auntymag I don't think there's anything sinister about wanting your child to grow up with a certain language and have friends to speak it with.

takemetomars Wed 12-Aug-15 14:00:34

and what is wrong with that Auntiemag???

AuntyMag10 Wed 12-Aug-15 14:02:02

Because her friend can speak whatever language she likes with her son. The op is only concerned what it means for her child rather than a concern that he might be losing touch with it.

Happy36 Wed 12-Aug-15 14:06:10

AuntyMag10, to be fair, I did write, "I understand that in their family they should do as they please".

Thanks to everyone who has reassured me. Coffeemarkone, certainly I would not see the other family any less just because they are no longer speaking French. Their little boy is one of my son´s best friends and I get on really well with his mother; we all enjoy spending time together and that wouldn´t change just because we switched language.

Spartans Wed 12-Aug-15 14:46:46

At age 7 he is unlikely to forget a language that has been spoken at home since before he was born in two weeks. There is no reason your son and his can not speak to each other in french, just because she chooses not to. Has she banned your son from speaking french in front her son?

Yabu, as you say, she can do what she wants. What you are upset at is that if you want your son to continue speaking french, it will be in your house or at a club. Which makes your life easier.

Which I do kind of understand. I don't understand why you think this boy will all of a sudden not be able to speak french.

MrsGentlyBenevolent Wed 12-Aug-15 14:55:00

I think yabu being sad about it, and he won't 'forget' the language either. My mother always spoke English to me at home (even though she is bilingual), I speak my second language fluently. If it's been ingrained long enough, he won't lose it.

Happy36 Wed 12-Aug-15 18:39:31

Thanks, everyone.

Spartans, I would happily send my son to a French club if there were one here. The one that I mentioned isn´t really suitable as he´d just be learning basic vocabulary and songs and the other children there are all Spanish so chat to each other in Spanish. I´d just like him to have a Francophone friend his own age. I am not worried about his French getting any worse.

What I didn´t mention in my original post, because I didn´t think of it at the time, is another one French-speaking friend has moved away this summer. She sees my children fairly often (as she works with me so she sees them before and after school as well as at our home) and always speaks to them in French. She is a great friend and colleague; I am generally gutted about her moving away for all sorts of reasons. Until now, I hadn´t thought about the French thing, but I´m sure it must have been in my subconscious when I felt disappointed about my other friend and her little boy.

Happy36 Wed 12-Aug-15 18:43:56

Sorry, Spartans, I forgot to respond to your point about my son and his friend continuing to speak to each other in French. It would be lovely if they did, and, as you say, there´s no reason why they shouldn´t.

However, we know quite a few foreign families and the default language of the children is always Spanish unless the adults are firm about it being otherwise. For example, we know several British families (both parents British) whose children speak to each other and to the children of other British parents in Spanish. At my school, I see the same thing. In my opinion, it´s nicer for children to have friends to speak their "home" language with, as well as just parents and grandparents.

Hygellig Wed 12-Aug-15 18:46:52

I don't think you are being unreasonable to be disappointed. I think it's a shame that she has stopped speaking her native language to her son, though as you say, it is a decision for her family to make. It seems a bit strange to stop when he is 7, as presumably he is reasonably fluent by now. On the other hand, they might well have switched to speaking to each other in Spanish if this is the majority language.

Will you have other opportunities for your son to speak French, e.g. Skypeing to family? I am always a bit envious of people who have been brought up bilingual, not to mention trilingual!

Happy36 Wed 12-Aug-15 19:08:42

Hi Hygellig

Well, my two brothers have switched to English now, as they´ve both been living with and married to English partners for many years, and living outside of France. My sister does speak French but is hard to tie down (long working hours, lots of travel, etc.) My parents live in England and mostly speak English - one of my brothers and his English wife lived with my parents for a long time so they had to speak in English at home as my sister-in-law doesn´t speak French. However, they do speak French and it would be great to convince them to use Skype! I will suggest it again.

Usually, we visit France during the holidays, and it´s nice for our children to hear all sorts of different French accents and voices. On holiday here in Spain last month, our children were making friends with kids of different nationalities around the pool, including some French speakers, so I guess I have nothing to worry about.

Our daughter is 4 and does go to the "beginners" French classes with Spanish children. The class for this age group has a teacher who is French but has a different accent to me. Our daughter loves this class, (because she loves being centre of attention and being the "star student), and has made some firm Spanish friends there, which is also pleasing as they don´t go to her school and I think it´s nice for children to have friends outside of their school.

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