I had not planned anything specific for celebrating the holiday in French, but our December Toupie magazine (part of MC’s birthday gift from her Ami) arrived with a sticker advent calendar as well as stories and a “picture dictionary page” with the Christmas theme.
Toupie’s Advent Calendar
Each day there is a new animal doing something, from a pig bringing home a Christmas tree to a lion brushing his mane and a hippo lifting weights. Lots of opportunity for us both to use the language (and learn some new vocabulary!) as we count up to Christmas.
There are many learning opportunities in this advent calendar, from recognizing numbers to following a path, fine motor skills of plucking the stickers and patience in placing them (semi) square on the calendar. It’s a great little activity to help start our mornings and get a little French conversation in.
Here was our conversation for today’s sticker, a toothbrushing alligator:
Qu’est-ce que c’est? (What is it?, pointing to the alligator). -An alligator! Ah, oui, un alligator ou bien un crocodile, peut-être? Qu’est-ce que Monsieur Alligator fait? (Oh yes, an alligator, or maybe a crocodile? What is Mister Alligator doing?) -He’s brushing his teeth! Look I’m brushing my teeth with my finger! Ah bon, il se brosse les dents. Et toi! Tu te brosses les dents avec le doigt! (Oh, yes, he is brushing his teeth. And you! You are brushing your teeth with your finger!) -Yeah! Haha!
From the beginning, I have not pushed MC to respond in French. Instead, when it’s a time that I am focused on French, I have repeated what she says in English in French. I think part of my success so far with speaking French to her (and her not fighting it), has been that I don’t push her to respond in French, and when she asks me to explain something in English, I do. I have heard French words sink into her conversations, and when I ask her a question in French, she demonstrates comprehension, even if she gives me the answer in English.
I also found a Juliette Christmas book that was boxed up with our Christmas stuff, and she delighted in reading that this morning on the couch. She absolutely loves these Juliette books and the main character is as chipie (cheeky) as she is. We have a few other winter holiday themed books, but Juliette Fête Noël is her favorite.
I especially appreciate how she asks questions about the story or the pictures. If she doesn’t understand what I said in French, she asks, “Mommy explain to me in English.”
Today, she wanted to know why Pierre was crying:
Why is he crying? -C’est parce que sa sœur joue avec son cadeau, son cheval à bascule. (It’s because his sister is playing with his gift, his rocking horse.) Oh, okay.
I explain the pictures in French and answer questions in French except when she specifically asks for English, and I make the language connection for her.
Christmas stories to listen to
One other resource we are using this holiday season to bring in the French language, arrived in my inbox yesterday and is completely free! Mylittlekids.fr is a website for Parisian/French families to discover activities and experiences and they launched an advent calendar of sorts: a story a day to listen to, right up to Christmas. I am looking forward to listening to a new story each day with MC!
These are just a few simple ways I am bringing in French for this holiday season. None of these was planned, although all of these activities give intention for using the language.
If you are a multilingual family, how do you bring languages, traditions, and culture together during the holidays?