Nelson is becoming quite an engaging conversationalist. He now gurgles and coos responses as I speak to him, which makes this whole project much more rewarding. He also rewards me with big, wide gummy grins. But even without these changes it is getting easier. The language flows better. I have made peace with throwing in the occasional English word to facilitate fluidity and breadth of topics. I walk him through the recipe of what I am making for lunch. I tell him about Grandma’s travels this week in Cape Town, and her visiting the prison where his namesake spent so many years. I complain about bitter coffee. We read, a lot, but grown up books that interest me now.
Nelson is six weeks old today. Taking stock of our little experiment so far, I am extremely pleased. Since last week I adjusted to include some language learning materials. I use Anki flashcards on my phone, making sentences in sing-song motherese with each new word. I’ve been writing journals on Lang-8 daily to get some feedback on my French. We listen to RFI‘s Journal en Français Facile every morning, and I talk to Nelson about the days news. When he is sleeping I read books I’ve read and loved in English to myself in French. Now I feel like I am making real progress on my French instead of falling apart in a lonely vacuum.
When I was looking for tools online I came across the idea of “simulated immersion.” If you can’t live in the country and be forced to immerse yourself, the theory goes, you can create an immersive situation at home. My goal is to make my time with him immersive in this way as much as possible. Once Daddy walks out the door in the morning, we live in French. Anything non-urgent that needs to get done in English can wait until the evening. The only exception is to socialize. We’ll see how well I manage with being this strict, but I figure it is worth a try!
This post was featured in the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival, along with a lot of other great posts full of tips, tricks, trials and successes in the great adventure that is raising multilingual children. You can check out the rest of the carnival here: