The day after arriving back in America after over 2 years, Sweet Bear started “baby talking” while speaking French. It got worse and worse as the week went on. She even started talking to her father in English. He would just say what she had said again but in French. He has continued to speak with all the children in French. Petite Clown didn’t seem to be bothered by switching countries. She continues speaking English with English speakers and French with French speakers. My father’s wife is French-Canadian which is nice since it is another person in the family that is fluent in French and English. The children seem to speak mostly with her in French.
After the first week here I decided to start speaking in French with Sweet Bear when I was able to use correct French. Even if I am far from perfect in my French I felt she needed to hear more French. After 15 minutes of my speaking in French with her she started to get her confidence back. The only problem was that she told me she was speaking in English when in fact she was speaking in French. I think the poor kid got confused as to why everyone went from speaking French to speaking English. I had explained that we were not going to live in France where everyone speaks French but in America where everyone speaks English. However, she got a little jumbled up in her head as to what language was what. I think she was sticking to English during her transition because the majority of the people were speaking in English. She had lost her confidence for French for a short time.
I have continued to speak with her in French on and off for the last few weeks when I felt she needed me to. The past few days I have not spoken with her in French any more than before we moved to America. I have always spoken a little in French with the children and translated immediately after in English.
What I had not realized was that I was speaking much more in French with the children than I had realized while living in France. Once we were surrounded in an all English environment, I clearly heard the French. I don’t think it was bad for the children. I do think that if we had stayed in France speaking in English at home may have not been the same as time passed. I think we would have ended up speaking in a mixture of both languages.
Now that we are in America I am starting to speak with my husband in French with him correcting me constantly. I want to speak in French because I miss it. The biggest reason is that it is important that I speak French with my husband so that the children hear French and feel that French is a part of the home. My husband and I will speak with the children in our own mother tongues so that we can give them a strong model to follow. Besides with my accent I would destroy their French.
Sweet Bear is still trying to figure out the little cultural differences. Today a group of children came around selling candy for their church. Only two days ago, an older boy was knocking at the door to sell candy for a youth organization to keep kids out of crime. All this on top of the pizza guy bringing us a pizza this past weekend has given Sweet Bear the idea that people go from house to house selling what you like to eat. She burst out with a big grin, “I would like grapes and pizza.”
Well, in today’s age I wouldn’t be surprised if people didn’t start bringing around order slips for groceries to be delivered to your door as a way to raise money for a school or organization. The school or organization could get a small percentage of the order total as a reward for bringing in more business to the grocery company. I know Sweet Bear would have a weekly supply of grapes and pizza delivered to her door.
Isn’t it funny how quickly kids can pick up on the importance of convenience in American society?