Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Teaching a 2 year old a second language

I'm bilingual. While my fluency in French may be rusty, it's there. Up until high school, I went to French language schools, read in French, spoke French to my friends, everything in French. In High School, I spoke French for an hour a day, because there was a little program in my high school for French kids. There were three of us, and one teacher, and we did correspondence courses, culminating in a French high-school equivalency exam at the end of my Junior year. The program was intended for those who were planning on going back to the "mother country" at the end of their parents stints abroad. While none of the people in my class actually went back to France, we could have.

My Dad's family is all in France. The younger folk speak English with a lovely and thick French accent. The older generation? Not a lick. I mean, my grandmother gets confused when B answers the phone and they can't even make basic small talk with one another. My grandmother turns 90 in March, and Mia and I are flying there for the party to meet up with the rest of my family. That's 4 months away. I'd like Mia to have at least a basic understanding of French by then, or my dual citizenship might be revoked.

So, I've been casually looking for tips on how to do this, but most are short articles listing various methods. (Bilingual toys, Dora/Diego, almost everything is Spanish) How about someone real? So, while I'm doing it in real time, I'll try a few things out, and share them here. Realistically, I know that me speaking French to her 100% of the time would be the best and quickest way for her to learn, but I don't think it's realistic for me. B doesn't speak French, and how exhausting would it be to have to translate? Very.

Instead, a few months ago, I had decided to start French Saturdays - the only day Mia and I are consistently on our own while B is at work. But, truthfully, I've been really bad at it. Saturday mornings, I usually plop Mia down in front of a movie while I do some housework. At first, I would switch the movie from English to French and she didn't seem to have any objections to it, and reply to her multiple requests for cheese in French, but then I kind of... forgot about it. So, here I am, creating some accountability for myself. FRENCH SATURDAYS.

I'll write about how it's going, whether I manage to find anything else to help, some french speaking toddlers who will just teach my kid for me, perhaps? Probably not. 


  1. Wow, that is so ambitious! My brother and SIL are both fluent in Mandarin and I would love to send my son to stay with them for a while to learn it! My dream is to enroll him in a dual language school as early as kindergarten.

  2. Good luck! I like the idea of French Saturdays. Maybe sing her some lullabies and children's songs in French, too? Anything you can do to make a game out of it. I am excited for you--both for teaching her French and for you both going back for your Grandmother's birthday.

    I will be interested in reading about your progress. I love languages.

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

  3. Oh, I just remembered. My daughter's niece is raised in a bilingual home. She will be two in January and they always tell her to "give me five" in Spanish--which she loves to do. I know it is only one phrase, but it is the only thing that came to mind for the toddler age group.

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living