Friday, 26 June 2015

I can't speak French, so I'll let my 3 year old do the talking....

When my son came home from nursery today, we did as we do; ate our tea, chatted about our day (read: I ask him questions, I get one word replies - except when there's a drama; oh to be three), had a little play and watched a bit of TV before bed.  He then turns to me, mid Night Garden.

'Pappion'.

'Bonjour'

'Tata Barbara'

And then turns back to Iggle Piggle.  With a smile, and remembering that, at his new nursery they have a French lesson on a Thursday morning, I asked him what he said and what it meant.

'I said Bonjour mummy.  We say it at nursery'.  Back to his yogurt, back to the TV.

Now, I really embarrassed to say I have no idea what the first word he was trying to say was, but the Bonjour was pretty clear.  Clever boy.  But Tata Barbara?  That impressed me.  Seth has an Auntie Barbara who is French and lives in Paris with Uncle Dave.  On her last visit in January, Barbara taught him that Tata is French for Auntie.  We've said it a few times since, but I'm normally met with a blank stare.

He remembered.  From January.  Not only did he remember, but he retrieved it from that part of his brain and read the tag that says 'this is a French word too' and associated it with the French words he learnt at nursery.  I'm pretty sure Tata Barbara isn't the next word on the learning list after Bonjour!

Tata Barbara

Now, as much as I'd love to believe my boy is a linguistic genius I'm pretty sure this little episode just serves to prove how receptive young minds are, how open they are to picking up language.  I'm always ashamed when we see Tata Barbara; her language skills are incredible and her English puts my husbands to shame (not mine - I speak perfect England).  Add to that her stunning good looks, Parisian style and business mind and you'd be forgiven for not liking her very much at all.  I adore her - all this is a post for another day.

I digress.

Having English as a second language is natural for her; essential for her in fact, to achieve in business.  She picked it up from TV, music and films from a young age and she was taught it in school from Day 1.  Not just an hour a week starting at senior school, as was my linguistic education, but proper lessons, ingrained in every day education.  The fact I was so surprised, pleased and smug that Seth had learnt some French actually speaks volumes.  Why shouldn't he be bi-lingual at three?  Barbara's sister married an Irish man and their three children speak both English and French fluently, with the youngest mixing up her French and English words in sentences as though they were the same language.

For a three year old to be bi-lingual is not exceptional anywhere other than in the UK; as proud as I am of Seth, and rightly so, I need to bear in mind that what he's achieved is done the world over every day.  So I'll support him, and greet him with a cheery 'Bonjour' in the morning, hoping this new found word sticks and enthusiasm bounds... and I may be Skyping Tata Barbara for some tips and more words to teach him....

Au Revoir...


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