My due date is five days from now, on March 29th. My little boy could be here, in my arms, any moment. This of course brings a wash of emotions, many I am sure are common to extremely-soon-to-be parents. Excitement, a calm sense of confidence that I am ready, and I can do this, tempered with moments of self-doubt, impatience, delight at the prospect of tying my shoelaces without the huge belly in the way, and an overwhelming sense of love for this tiny person who I’ve never seen. Many of my thoughts and emotions, however, surround just one parenting decision we’ve made.
We are planning to raise our baby bilingual in French and English. This in itself is no revelation. My little cousin has been raised speaking French with her Parisian mother and French family and English with her father and American family. But I am no Parisian. I am not a French teacher, I didn’t spend a year in a francophone country perfecting my language, my French is far from perfect. I’ve read many books that assure me that “You don’t have to be bilingual yourself to raise bilingual children!” These books are always pretty sparse on details, the discussion being mostly geared towards native speakers of the target language, who comprise the vast majority of people who raise bilingual children. So I turned to the internet, figuring there must be some information about someone who has done what I hope to do, improving their not-so-advanced language skills through the process of speaking the target language with their baby. I found shockingly little, so I am hoping that through blogging about our experiences I can help others who might be considering a similar path.
I have no idea if this experiment will be a success. I have a lot of hopes, a lot of fears, a lot of reservations. Already it has been both delightful and frustrating. I am quite certain that it is one of the greatest challenges I have ever undertaken. I also firmly believe that the gift of bilingualism is one of the greatest things a parent can give a child, and if it is possible for my child to be bilingual then I am happy to put in some work to make it so.