Trying to get kids to speak French - will a French nanny make a difference?(3 Posts)
Ex DH is half French and we have been trying to raise DSs aged 6 and 4 to speak both French and English. They go to an English school but we have always had (since the age of 6 months) French nannies who we have asked to talk to the children only in French. My ex speaks to them only in French but we separated 3 years ago so he only see them for a couple of hours in the week and either Saturday or Sunday. They also go to a French class every Friday. They seem to understand French but are quite reluctant to speak it. Our nanny recently left and I have been trying to find a good French after-school nanny for them but cannot seem to find someone. Lots of lovely Spanish nannies though. I am wondering how much of an impact having a french nanny would be, given that they would only see her after-school. It doesn't seem to have helped hugely so far although they do understand French. Wondering if I should give up and hire this lovely Spanish nanny and maybe get a French tutor once a week or keep trying to find a French nanny. I don't want to compromise on experience/personality just to get French speaking.
If you want them to speak French I would get a French nanny. Otherwise I don't think they will. A French class is not the same as spending time with French people where you have to speak to French. Kids are essentially lazy - they are too young to see any possible benefit or novelty in speaking another language. If they think they can get away with speaking just one they will. A few hours a day with a French nanny where they have to speak French is building a habit - and building on a habit which they already have. It's the nanny so we have to speak French. My kids are bilingual - they used to be trilingual when we lived in Germany - they picked it up easy as anything when they had to speak German in the playground at school, my dd was in the German mother tongue section of her French school, we left Germany when they were 7 and 5 and they completely lost it - because they didn't have to speak it any more on a regular basis. In one way bilingualism is effortless for kids I that they are like little sponges in another way it is an enormous effort because you have to keep it up and there is no short cut or way round that.
I find at this age the children do need to have a need to speak. So a french nanny seems to be the only way forward.
Do they have passive input when with you? French DVDs or storytapes can also help.
And - holidays. I think you and the dad need to make french holidays a priority. We found that DD really picks up when in Germany as she is then forced to speak to play with children and interact with others.
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