James Proclaims (4)

teddy-2012851_640I 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.




37 thoughts on “My Toddler Thinks I’m An Idiot

  1. As I have a French partner and we live in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, my three boys are growing up trilingual. I have just about gotten used to having my (admittedly poor) language skills constantly being shown up by a bunch of kids.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Being raised bilingual is good for the kids. I am an educator at a nursery, and we encourage the parents to try “one person – one speech”. In that way, the parents can speak the language they are most comfortable with, and the toddler hears both (or more) languages enough to grow a passive vocabulary. The active vocabulary needs more time, but growing up with more than one language is beneficial for the kids. I studied how language develops and how learning multiple languages at a young age affect the children’s cognitive development. Stepping off my soapbox. 🙂 (I am very passionate about my work)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Je suis bilingue aussi. Mon école primaire était francophone, mon école secondaire a préposé un programme d’immersion française, et mon Université était entièrement bilingue – notre travaille pourrait être soumis dans la langue de notre choix. Ma mère est éducatrice à une école francophone (Terre des jeunes) et mes neveux et ma petite nièce vont à une aussi (Rose des vents). Les langues viennent façilement en enfance!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My undergraduate was in French and Spanish and then I studied towards a MA in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish only. French never seemed to get easier and now I haven’t practised in a few years …
    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It definitely doesn’t get easier, but for now I can still manage to follow Peppa Pig in French, which seems to be sufficient. She’s definitely going to leave me behind fairly soon though. I tried learning Spanish once and really enjoyed it. Time (or lack of it) always seems to get in the way, but I’d definitely like to give it another go.


      1. She has age on her side too! Everyone says a toddler is like a sponge for new information and new languages!

        I actually started learning Spanish a lot later than French, but it completely took over and seemed far more natural to learn 🙂 Perhaps you could learn Spanish too and then you’d have a trilingual daughter on your hands 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My wife already speaks Spanish quite well so I imagine my little sponge will be absorbing that soon enough, but I will endeavour to keep up as best I can 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When my siblings and I were younger we weren’t allowed to speak another language than Dutch. At school and at home. Now we are older and have our families our kids talk more than only Dutch

    Liked by 2 people

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