Why bilingual?

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We’ve decided to raise our kids bilingually. Why? How?

Our world becomes increasingly smaller; despite original geographic distances that would separate countries, cultures, and languages, we are now able to reach as far as our keyboard and after a simple search find songs, clips, and stories in another language. We can connect with people across the world much easier now – whether email, phone or WhatsApp. It’s incredible to think about how easy it is to access and learn new languages now as opposed to when I was growing up (which really wasn’t that long ago).

Lockets on a bridge in Paris, 2015.

Chou Chou speaks English only, aside from les gros mots (ahem, words that shouldn’t be repeated in polite company), and I speak French and English. I’m not a native speaker, although I am fluent, and I hesitated at first to not speak French to Mon Cœur (MC) for this very reason.

“Doing is better than not doing, and if you do something badly, you’ll learn to do it better.”

Twyla Tharp

Sometimes my pronunciation is off, sometimes I forget to conjugate a verb, but when I stopped to think about it, any native speaker of any language is apt to make a mistake, too.

Ever said to your child, “Hey look at the fishies!” only to remember that the plural for fish is…fish? Yes. Me, all the time. This is just one example of many. (smile)

After giving it some thought, I resolved that I truly didn’t have an excuse not to be raising MC bilingually, especially since I was capable of speaking in French and English with her.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

I want our kids to appreciate other languages and other cultures and to be world citizens, too. Just because our native language is English and it is the Lingua Franca doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue learning another language.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

I have had some amazing opportunities to learn and use the French language: I’ve hosted and been hosted by French families, studied abroad, worked with the French Governor’s Academy, attended a French immersion high school, and interned with the VCU/UR French Film Festival. I want to pass on all the opportunities that come from knowing multiple languages to my children.

I want to give MC a head start to learning languages by simply reading, singing, and listening to music with her in French. It’s not about sitting down with a lesson plan, it’s about using language to talk about pictures, the weather, what we are doing. It’s about singing the alphabet or counting or talking about color in French. It’s about finding a community of other speakers where we can exchange and converse in the language and immerse MC in different language and cultural experiences.

I’m stumbling through this and learning as we go – I hope to create a more solid routine and build a list of resources – check back often, as I learn from my mistakes, I’ll share them with you!

À bientôt! (See you soon),

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