Another French maternelle thread...(11 Posts)
I'm sure this has been covered before but I'm feeling guilty about my own situation so wanted to start my own thread rather than resurrecting an old one.
DD will turn 3 in august, due to start PS in September.
I do not speak French, DH does but he's not a native speaker and does not tend to speak French in front of DD. He also works very long hours so does not see very much of DD except at weekends.
DD does not speak or understand French, though she knows basics (alphabet, numbers to ten, animals and colours). Her comprehension isn't terribly good especially with new people/regional accents. I have tried to enrol her at halte garderies, centres de loisirs, even activities at local library but we're currently staying with relatives so are classed as non resident and ineligible.
We only arrived a couple of months ago and have a narrow non French speaking social circle.
DD likes watching French cartoons and programmes, esp trotro and repeats vocabulary appropriately but I am just concerned for her when she starts school in September and know that teacher pupil ratios aren't going to allow for extensive supervision. What can I do to try and prepare her as best I can?
Thanks June. I think you're right...deep breaths!
She will be fine. The only non-French native speaker children I have seen not "make it" through maternelle (all three years) to CP have been children with significant special needs.
PS and MS are very undemanding, academically-speaking - super focused on oral language skills and socialisation according to French norms, which is perfect for your DD!
You feel guilty? Don't I'm bi-national / bi-lingual and have barely taught my 3 and 4 year olds any French. Hi/bye, some numbers, handful of other things. Going to so get my butt kicked by my cousins when we go back in a month lol. We're only there for a month or so each year but I could surely have taught them an awful lot more already.
As you at least live there already though, you'll find both you and DD pick it up quickly. Word here, phrase there etc, you'll be fine. It's only been a couple of months. I've been learning it for 33 years and still make dumb mistakes sometimes, usually causes more of a laugh than embarrassment and at least someone corrects me so I know how it's meant to be said.
Scary as it is, try to get away from the safety net of the English speaking friends, you'll pick things up so much faster when both you and a French person are stuck trying to say what you mean and just have to work it out somehow.
It does feel a bit like chucking them in the deep end! My ds had zero French when he started PS. He struggled a lot but tbh that was far more about being away from me, making the adjustment to school life - not bring able to speak French was difficult for him, but not the biggest problem.
Maternelles do offer extra catch up classes for non-native speakers which helps them practice the basics outside the class. Your dd teacher will tell you if she thinks she needs them - usually at lunchtime or after school once a week.
Also, it's such a routine structure at maternelle, she'll understand the regular words very quickly, even if she doesn't speak them for a while.
Ds1 is in GS now and his French is great, his teachers describe him as bilingual. He's way beyond me. His little bro starts this year - same situation as I haven't put him in crèche etc. but he'll be fine.
Btw you ask how best to prepare her? The clue is in one of the pp's. 'socialization according to French norms' so doing what she is told, when she's told to do it, without arguing ( this is where my ds really struggled! ) sharing and taking turns, being 'propre', being able to take her coat off and hang it up, being able to hang her bag up etc. tbh the language was the least of ds's problems, after 3 years of a free and easy life at home with me, school came as a major shock. That's one reason so many French children go to crèche - gets them used to the institutional routine and discipline before they are old enough to argue about it!
My two are at the small local school. Despite being small there have been quite a few non French children who have started the PS with no or very limited French and done fine. They pick it up so quickly at this age and the PS is very undemanding linguistically. My youngest only started speaking either language comprehensively this April after I took him to the ear nose and throat doctor to find his ears were completely blocked so he was hearing very little which was affecting his social development as well.
Despite that he's done fine this year - just finished for the summer today. She'll be speaking better than you by the end of the MS and correcting your French in 3 years time! It'll be OK?
Sorry, didn't mean to add weird question mark at the end of the post. My experience here shows that they are more adaptable than adults, plus remember she will have the familiar structure of school with all it's routines around her. I think that's a big help and is the thing that the "trailing spouse" lacks the most - you have to make your own routine and structure and that can take a while.
Next time I help out someone looking for a school in the local languages, I'd remember LowMumsMums advice about the child adapting quicker than the parent! Oh it's been so true in many situations I've witnessed.
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