I think I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but wife and I are attempting to bring our daughter up to be bilingual.
This stems from our own love of languages – both of us have an undergraduate degree in French Studies. Indeed, that is how we met in the first place.
Having said that, there is little comparison between Mrs Proclaims and I in terms of our mastery of other languages. I scraped through my undergrad course, with what many people refer to as ‘the drinkers degree’. Which, in my case, would be a fair summary. Mrs Proclaims not only secured a First on that particular course (and quite comfortably as I recall) but very quickly obtained an MA in eighteenth century French Literature and is currently working on PhD on nineteenth century French Literature. She’s completely fluent in French, highly competent in Spanish and a few years back studied Latin, in her spare time, for fun.
Of course I can speak French perfectly well, and were we in a bar in Paris, I could competently order a round of beers. That’s mostly what I spent my time in Paris doing. But my French was never as good as that of my wife and in the ensuing years (and it’s been more years than I care to admit) since we left our undergraduate days behind us, though I have occasionally dabbled as a French teacher, I have mostly pursued occupations which have had very little to do with the language and consequently the gap in our ability has increased.
Nonetheless, I have been very much a part of developing my daughter’s vocabulary in French and as well as speaking to her in French, I frequently read her books in French and watch cartoons with her in French.
In these corona times, she has been deprived of access to toddler groups and the like and consequently has probably been exposed to more French than English, given that we do use the language a lot at home. We’ve noticed that she has a definite preference for speaking the former. Which is pretty positive as I have no doubt that once the ‘new normal’ kicks in and she’s exposed to more English through the medium of ‘just living in England’ that things will balance out.
But had I any fears that Little Proclaims was developing her French at the expense of her English, I need not have worried.
Because my daughter has clearly noticed the difference in competence between my wife and I. Just the other day, Little Proclaims and I were out for a walk and an aeroplane flew overhead.
She looked up in wonder and excitedly exclaimed “Avion!”
Then she looked at me, with pity in her eyes and calmly translated for me.