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Are there any native French speakers here?

(9 Posts)
frenchspeaker123 Tue 19-May-20 17:03:57

I'm conducting some research on French speakers in the UK and I want to try to find out more about what it's like to be a French speaking parent bringing up a child in the UK.

Anything you can tell me on the topic would be fascinating, but here are a few questions as prompts:

1. What is it like to bring up your child bilingually? What approach do you use? OPOL?

2. Does your child study French at school? How have they found it? Can they do early entry GCSE/A level? What are their teachers like?

3. Are there ever times when you and your child disagree on how to say something in French? What kind of things do you say differently?

4. Do you correct your child when they make a mistake in French? What kinds of mistakes would you correct and what kind would you ignore?

5. Would you say your child speaks French like a native speaker?

Merci ! smile

OP’s posts: |
LittleLebowski Tue 19-May-20 17:57:13

Hi, I have a French parent, but was born and raised here and my other half is French. I can give a view on some of your questions.
We spoke French all the time to our eldest, except when we were with English family and other English speakers. She took to bilingualism very well so we thought, this is easy! We didn't push reading or writing however, but her spoken French (and English) was excellent. It was much harder once she was at school as she obviously struggled to explain her day in French - I remember lots of "il était naughty" and "on avait carpet-time"! I decided to push for her to do Spanish rather than French at High School as she was a good linguist and blithely said I would do GCSE French with her. School was extremely supportive and helpful, but it proved impossible time-wise and trying to compensate for the fact that we hadn't kept up her reading and writing. She was also then not very interested and has gone to full on 'answer in English' mode. I have sympathy with this as I was exactly the same!
We began well in the same vein with our youngest, but she wasn't at all as good and really struggled with English, resulting in me being called in to nursery and having her hearing checked. She was fine, just not as good as the older one and in hindsight, we should have kept going with French at home. The kids would also not speak to each other in French, so the younger one is also now in 'I understand everything you say, but will only respond in English' mode. I am therefore requesting she does French at High School, and I'll help her with Spanish.
According to their dad, their French is native sounding, but then his family say he speaks with an English accent after 20 plus years here so who knows! I've always had an English accent on the other hand.

frenchspeaker123 Wed 20-May-20 11:06:50

@LittleLebowski Thank you for sharing that with me, that's all really interesting!

Did your daughter do GCSE French in the end or was it too difficult with the time constraints? I was just wondering how much of the GCSE content related to skills/vocab she had acquired at home and how much of it was quite new to her!

What was it like for you growing up? Did you speak a lot of French at home?

OP’s posts: |
LittleLebowski Wed 20-May-20 15:25:03

No problem!
No, my eldest didn't do French GCSE in the end, but Spanish and Mandarin. it was just too hard to fit everything in, she wasn't willing and I didn't have the time or heart to push it. I would say (and being a language teacher myself in the past) that the GCSE is designed for non-native speakers so bilingual kids and parents shouldn't assume it's a walk in the park. They need to prepare things to say ticking off all the correct tenses and showing off their vocabulary, as well as having good accuracy with their written language. The topics are fairly standard: school, holidays, family, hobbies, going out etc, except maybe for the world problems bit where they need a bit of specialised vocab. Even more so at A level, especially as they are expected to have and formulate opinions. Even when speaking the language regularly at home, you might not have much of chit-chat on 'Que penses-tu de la tauromachie?' for example!
I was pretty much the same as my children growing up. My mother tongue was French, but it was difficult for my mum to maintain it and I went to 'answer only in English' very quickly. It was then a performative weight on my shoulders to answer in French, which became an issue and area of conflict. It was only when I was older and away from my family (mon premier petit-ami français pendant les vacances!) that I wanted to be able to speak. Hence, my French is accented and though I'm very good, I'm certainly more fluent and happy in English - which I guess is also down to living here.

VallarMorghulis Wed 20-May-20 19:56:02

Hi OP, you might want to look at this https://www.wfbilingual.org.uk/, it has a lot of good resources.

I am French and I raised my DC to be bilingual. I am a single parent so it was easy to speak just French at home and out, unless we were with English speakers, DC spoke English with their DF. DC went to a bilingual school for a few years of primary school, then back to an English school for secondary, and did their French GCSE in year 7.

Now DC is 19, we speak a mixture of English and French but mostly English I must admit!

VallarMorghulis Thu 21-May-20 07:55:37

Sorry OP, I realised I hadn't answered some of your questions.

We don't usually disagree on how to say something In French.

I do correct them if they make mistakes, but it's not very often. It's usually pronunciation or because it's a direct translation from English which doesn't work in French.

I'd say DC is not quite at the native speaker level because of lack of practice, but would catch up if in a totally French speaking environment. Their reading and writing in French is rather poor though.

I hope that helps!

1. What is it like to bring up your child bilingually? What approach do you use? OPOL?

2. Does your child study French at school? How have they found it? Can they do early entry GCSE/A level? What are their teachers like?

3. Are there ever times when you and your child disagree on how to say something in French? What kind of things do you say differently?

4. Do you correct your child when they make a mistake in French? What kinds of mistakes would you correct and what kind would you ignore?

5. Would you say your child speaks French like a native speaker?

VallarMorghulis Thu 21-May-20 07:56:30

Oops, I meant to delete the questions I copied before posting! Sorry...

frenchspeaker123 Thu 21-May-20 11:49:06

@VallarMorghulis thank you very much for sharing all that, and thank you for the link - it looks like a very helpful website! Wow, that's amazing about your DC doing their French GCSE in year 7! Did you find they needed to do much extra preparation or was it very straightforward for them?

OP’s posts: |
VallarMorghulis Thu 21-May-20 12:41:03

The funny thing about the GCSEs is that DC had to learn how to answer the questions in the correct way I.e. the way the examiner expects it, and that's not at all how a French speaker would answer! So yes, they had to have some teaching.

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