Raising Bilingual Children

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It’s no secret to those of you that know us that, ever since Olivia was born, we have been trying to raise her bilingually.
 
Throughout my pregnancy I was adamant on this (even before I was pregnant I wanted my children to learn other languages and be brought up bilingually if possible).

It’s been harder than anticipated – the truth is, when the foreign language isn’t your first language, it’s difficult to remind yourself to speak it at home, especially when your partner doesn’t also speak the same language!

Jamie has been an avid learner for a while now, however he considers me fluent (I don’t consider myself fluent, but, yes, I can speak French fairly well) and he is still learning. That hasn’t stopped us from attempting it though! Olivia actually has a very good French vocabulary, considering she’s 2!

So, for any parents who are wondering how they can also cultivate a language skill in their little one, these are the resources and techniques we have found most helpful:

 

1. Muzzy

Muzzy are a BBC resource on DVD that are specifically aimed at children. For the first 18 months of Olivia’s life, she wouldn’t watch the television (partly because she didn’t want to and partly because I didn’t want her to), but, from her being a few months old and able to sit in a bouncy chair or baby walker, she would watch Muzzy. If I needed a little break, to have a wee, a shower, a cup of tea, or food, I’d plonk her in front of Muzzy and felt ZERO guilt for sticking her in front of the TV, because she was learning.

2. Youtube

This has been a more recent discovery, since dreaded Peppa Pig made an entrance into our lives. I mitigate whatever hatred I feel towards that damned pig by letting Olivia watch it in French, and, FYI, Youtube hosts an hour long video with back to back episodes in French.

3. Songs

I have always sung to Olivia at nighttime, and I used to sing French songs to her more often. I simply googled the lyrics to our favourite Disney songs and sang them in French. I also learned the French lullaby ‘Alouette’ and that one is a particular favourite in our house!

She has also learned body parts by singing ‘tête, époules, genoux, pieds’ (head, shoulders knees and toes).

 

4. Animals/Teddies

On our morning walks to the childminder, Olivia would of course see lots of things outside that she had never seen before. Each time she discovered a new thing, I would teach her the word in French (only French – she would have plenty of time to learn the English word later!)

This evolved into using her teddies, as she has many animal teddies, and teaching her the words for the animal using each of these.

5. Flashcards

Olivia has a ‘My First French Words’ set of flashcards that we have used since she was 14 months old. These have probably been the most valuable resource! She is able to tell me most of the French words for the pictures on the Flashcards on request.

6. Bath books

She has had bath books since she was a tiny baby, and I would use these to tell her the names of the animals in French during bath time from her being that young age!

I bet you’re wondering how much she’s actually picked up…

Well, on 1 January 2018 when she was 18 months old, she could already say:

  • Kaka (poop)
  • Pipi (wee)
  • Bras (arm)
  • Bouche (mouth)
  • T’aime (love you)
  • Papa
  • Couche (nappy)
A month later, she could also say:
  • Arbre (tree)
  • Cochon (pig)
  • Chat (cat)
  • Pied (foot)
  • Bon nuit (goodnight)
  • Dents (teeth)
  • Papillon (butterfly)
Now,  she can say full sentences. Her entire list of French vocabulary is in italics below:
kaka, pipi, bras, mains, dents, pied, jambe, tête, bouche, époule, genoux, oreille, nez, je t’aime, bon nuit, bon matin, au revoir, bonjour, couche, arbre, fleur, orange, jus, cochon, mouton, vache, canard, grenouille, cheval, chat, chien, oiseau, souris, flocon de neige, pomme, banane, saucisse, pain, croissant, poissons, pâtes, glâces, manger, grande, blanc, rouge, vert, papillon, s’il vous plait, merci beaucoup, trés bien, princesse, belle, petits amis, joyeux noël, à bientôt, ça va, je m’appelle Olivia, oui, non, 

un, deux, trois, quatre

 
Now she is 3 months away from turning three, and she recognises French words. She tells me that Cinderella is speaking French if I put the film on in French for her, and she tells me off for speaking French too!
It’s not quite what I wanted, but I’m proud of how much she’s come on and how clever she is! She will pick languages up easily at school, and I’ll continue doing what I can to teach her at home.
Have you ever taught your children another language? What did you find helpful?

My D.I.Y fun toddler game part 2- smiley sorting faces game!

Share

Who doesn’t love smiley faces?!

I’ve dabbled with trying to show Imogen the names of different colours. We’ve got books with them in and she’s got coloured shape sorting toys but I realised that colours isn’t something we have really looked at through play. Imogen really loves sorting things and putting them in to boxes, so I had a little think, and a little look on Pinterest for some ideas. I started dyeing some dry pasta and cereal and thought, now what?! Just getting my daughter to sort them into coloured pots, I thought, could be made more fun. So this is when I came up with this simple idea, which took next to no time at all to set up. The only thing that takes a bit of time is waiting for the food colouring to dry. Some of the colours are a bit  more stubborn than others to dry though!

I hope you and your little ones enjoy this and you can make this game from items you have around your home.
What you need:
4 handfuls of dry pasta or cereal, (whatever you have in your cupboard and is a suitable size for your child),
Different food colouring, (you can use paint but if your child is still putting things in their mouth then food colouring might be the better option),
4 plastic bowls, (they don’t need to be coloured but mine were red, green, blue and yellow, which I just so happened to have),
Paper,
Coloured pens or pencils,
Sticky tape,
Scissors,
A bigger bowl to draw around,
A container to mix the food dye in,
A spoon,
Some kitchen towel.
Make the game in 4 easy steps:

1) Add some drops of food dye into the container with one handful of dry pasta/cereal and mix thoroughly with the spoon. Lay it on the kitchen towel to dry overnight. Continue this with the other colours, so that the rest of the pasta is different colours. I used red, blue, green and yellow dyes.

2) Turn the bigger bowl upside down on your paper and draw around it to make the circles for each of your smiley faces. Then cut them out.

 
3) Draw your smiley face’s eyes onto your circle with your coloured pens. Next you need to cut the mouths out. If you fold the circles in half, so the eyes are both on one side, this makes it easier to cut. I then coloured around the mouths. Repeat for all four circles.

4) Tape the smiley faces to the tops of each of your bowls, corresponding to the colours of your bowls.

Then it’s time to play!

Mix your coloured pasta and cereal together. The game is for your little one to try to match the colour of the pasta with the right smiley face’s mouth. It’s as simple as that! I did think about adding more to the game, but I think for toddlers and pre-schoolers it is okay for the game to be this simple. You could add new colours to the game and different items. You could even introduce tweezers to pick up the pasta or cereal, to help your child with their hand-eye coordination. If the faces get ripped, then it is easy to replace them.

Imogen didn’t want to stop playing this game and I was so pleased to watch her get the hang of it. We started her off with just two colours to begin with. We did find the Cheerios were starting to disappear, so I was relieved I used the food colouring instead of the paint!

Let us know if you tried it!