I am really awful at speaking to my kids in English.

I did really good with it with my first.  It was the two of us, in our bubble.  We spent our days cuddling, playing, it was natural to speak in English with her.  Once she got to school age, it all kind of changed.  I remember on one of her evaluations, naming shapes, her teacher wrote a little note “l’élève a dit circle”, meaning, she knew what the shape was but her natural inclination was to name it in English.

As time went on, I had more kids who spent more and more time in school.  I’d spend time chatting with other parents (in French) at the school gates…  And somehow it just slowly spread over into my day to day speaking with my kids.  And it got to the point where we speak in French.  I speak in French to my husband, somehow it ended up feeling natural to speak to the kids in French as well…  I have an anglophone friend who also spoke in French to her kids and warned me about this.  That eventually it does feel natural, and just kind of happens while you’re living life…   I never really believed her when she first said it to me, but, here I am almost ten years later looking at exactly that situation.

And so, I’ve been trying, hard, to fix this.  They deserve more, they are so incredibly lucky to be raised in a house where we have two mother tongues, I’m trying to change my habits to give them two mother tongues.  So we can read Harry Potter together in English.  Aria is five so small enough if I just keep at it, she’ll pick it up lightening quick.  Her teacher asked her about it the other day and she just shrugged, I don’t even know if she gets the idea of two languages conceptually.  Evie is a bit of a perfectionist.  She hates making mistakes so if she can’t get her sentence out perfect the first time, she gets frustrated easy.  But she is extremely smart, and I’m sure she can do it.  And Lily has the best base of them all, I think she’ll do fine.  Our latest addition, Arsène is just a tiny baby so if I start now, hopefully it will just be second nature to him and a true mother tongue.


Author: ashleyenfrance

An American living in France. Read about it here.

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