What I Learn From My Daughter

Something unexpected happened this summer. My daughter’s French took off. I had feared that being out of French school, away from the structure, the exposure, and the other kids who spoke French would cause her to lose ground. Instead, she’s now speaking conversationally. Sometimes. When I switch to French, she switches to French. And with her father, she’s about 50/50, French/English. She loves to babble French sounds; it’s almost like her French is a year or so behind her English. The great thing: she’s enjoying it. She likes speaking French.

This whole thing has made the prospect of not having access to a French school much less scary. We’ll have to devise some sort of plan to make sure reading and writing in French develop – I still lean toward summer school in France for all of us – but I’m finally relaxing about the whole thing more and starting to believe the other bilingual families who have reassured us to not worry, it will happen.

I learn a lot from my daughter, too. Like when her friends came over and one of the boys stole a toy from her and ran away with it. She ran after him shouting, “Ça c’est à moi !” thus I learned the French version of “mine!” If I had guessed, I would have said, “C’est la mienne !”

It’s so strange sometimes to hear my daughter speaking in a foreign tongue. Before meeting a Frenchman and deciding to have children with him, the thought that my children might speak a language that I didn’t speak never crossed my mind. It’s developing organically in her, whereas in me it’s taking great effort. It makes this part of her a little mystery to me.

Recently, we spent some time with one of my husband’s brothers and his family while they were visiting California. Before we saw them, we told our daughter that she would be seeing her cousins and that she’d need to speak in French because they don’t speak English. She had a lot of questions.

“Mommy what language will Papa speak?”

“What language will you speak this weekend?”

Over the long weekend, we had to coach her and translate for her with her cousins. As cousins do, though, they found a way. Cousins always seem to share a special bond, an instant connection. Even with the language difference, they had fun together. By the last day, our daughter began to spontaneously, without our interference, speak to them in French.

She likes to talk about what languages people speak. She’s exposed to so many languages; in her class alone there were native French, English, Spanish, Turkish, Hindi, and Chinese speakers. Lots of multicultural families. Every once in a while she’ll babble something and tell me that she’s speaking Spanish. She’s not, but still, the awareness of different languages at such a young age is a gift, I think. With exposure and continued effort, I believe we can get there. We can’t give up. We won’t.

6 thoughts on “What I Learn From My Daughter

  1. It must be so satisfying to know that your daughter is making progress in French and that she loves it. I guess it’s the best reward you could hope for as a parent!

    Wishing you all the best on your bilingual journey!

  2. I already came to peace with the fact that our children will speak the orrible local dialect, something we’ll never do. It is harder to accept though, that they will also speak standard German much better than us.
    Your daughter is amazing.

  3. I learned a lot from my daughters. My oldest one has inborn people skills. She teaches me to make friends with a considerable and kind heart.

    My second daughter has an amazing attention span. Because of being highly focused, she can count number from 1-20 and knows all the alphabets at age of 23 months. She teaches genius comes from hard work.

    My youngest daughter attends to people quite well. She knows to please people with her actions (she cannot talk yet). She teaches me that people will remember you when you do nice thing for them.

    Thank you for sharing your experience so that I feel appreciated to my children. By the way, I added your site into my “link” page (http://www.best4future.com/blog/links). Keep in touch!

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