Maman And Loulou

Encouragement for parents who want to give their child a gift of another language

As I said before, I can’t afford to up and move my kid to France. Even if I could, his father (with whom I share custody) would lock us in a storm cellar before allowing that. With a blended family, a stubborn husband and limited money, we definitely don’t have the ideal situation for acquiring a second language. Imagine how delighted I was over the summer when I found out that there was a French immersion school right here in a neighboring Phoenix suburb. He would get French exposure even during his dad’s weeks! I convinced his dad to tour it with me and I fell head over heels in love. Until I was handed the summary of tuition fees. Fifteen THOUSAND dollars. All I could think was, holy crap, this is grade school not college. You are teaching the kid basic math and english, not complicated quantum physics theories.

After a lot of sulking, I pulled my bootstraps up and reminded myself that I had sat out to learn this language without any stinking classes, had done so to an intermediate level myself and just had to keep on truckin’. But, did I really do it toute seule? I had used programs and apps and, more importantly, had found other people to talk with who would sometimes correct me or give me useful information. After all, why do we learn a language? To communicate with people, of course. Yet, Phoenix is not quite swimming with francophones.

Apparently though, there are enough to open a smaller school a little closer to us which, to our bonne chance, just become a charter school. Which means that it is free through the state. They encourage reasonable donations, but a few hundred dollars is much more practical than fifteen grand. Enrolling him has been bitter sweet because I feel like I am giving him an amazing opportunity but also pawning off the responsibility. Pas du tout. Him getting a few hours two days a week of interaction with other people in our target language is far from immersion. It’s giving him the opportunity to apply what he is learning and to see that other French people do exist outside of the TV.

It gave him something I could not. Confidence. I gave him the basics that he needed: select phrases and some vocabulary. Now he has expanded the realm in which he can use them and learn even more. Because, let’s be honest, the conversations that we have with our kids around the house can get very repetitive. Plus, I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, my mom could have explained how to do something in eighteen languages and twenty different ways and I would stare blankly at her. Take roller-blading for example. My mom tried for seven months. My friend Christina taught me in an afternoon.

Involving other people in the learning process for you and/or your child is not “cheating”, it is doing exactly what you aimed to do: exposing your kid to the language.

If you live in a smaller area or prefer to do things at home or on your own schedule, there is a wonderful site called ITalki that hosts natives and teachers that you can utilize to practice conversation or take lessons with. Some specifically offer kids sessions! Click here to utilize my special offer to get $10 in credits free! Keep in mind, you can not expect to send your kid to a class a couple of times a week or shove him or her in front of a computer and expect someone else to lead them to fluency. This is just another tool that you can utilize in your journey with your little one.

Since I spoke with his teacher this morning (completely in French mind you, very proud moment!) I am very excited to see how he advances with me over the next few months. Because I notice now he is less shy around me, tends to ask questions in French by default and apparently is the only kid in his class who can read in French. So, I have been doing something right!


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