The other day I was signing Aiden up for daycare (again) and two of the questions broke me out of my typical form-filling-out-trance:
1) What languages are spoken in the household?
2) What languages are books read in?
The first one I was able to answer with a reasonably clear conscience: English and French! I know about the same amount of French as a Madewell t-shirt (ie none) but it's David's first language and he tries to speak it to Aiden whenever they are alone together. There are so many amazing benefits of learning languages as a young child; better critical thinking skills, increased creativity, delayed onset of Alzheimers, the list is pretty staggering. Plus, French is such a beautiful language and bilingual just sounds so cultured! But calling ours a bilingual household is a bit of a stretch and the second question exposed my fib. Aiden is read to in only one langue, at best. (It's so hard to get the little guy to sit still!)
Damn. Are we missing this opportunity and failing him already?!?
Before Aiden was born, while we were still oblivious, well-rested, dewy-faced, soon-to-be parents and I was looking for things to worry about (it's required of new moms, right?), I asked David if he thought Aiden would learn to speak French. "Of course!" he said, clearly thinking my question was ridiculous. "It's my native language- why wouldn't he?" But alas, it is not so easy and the little guys claim to bilingualism is tenuous.
Language is such a strange creature. Like, for example, that it is possible for an adult living in a different country to forget their native language. I mean ....?!?!! This blows my mind- if I could forget English then I could forget literally anything (and I do mean actually literally not just as pop-culture vocab). This started to happen to my high school ski coach- he was from Macedonia and, after 10 years of speaking mostly only English, he was slowly losing his native tongue. So hard for me to comprehend! And even weirder- his English wasn't perfect at that point so, in some ways, he was without a (perfect) form of expression! Language seems so permanent and basic and un-influential but it's really fluid and underling practically everything we do. It even influences the way/things we think!
I have a friend whose Spanish-speaking parents purposely didn't teach her Spanish- they joked that then they could then have a secret language for "adult-talk." But I've heard of several parents doing this because they want their kids to fit in and not seem like foreigners- so sad, on many levels. It also probably happens just because it takes a surprising amount of concerted effort. Which is exactly what's happening with us.
|Aiden's favorite book BY FAR- we just look at the pictures and say them in English but I'm try to start saying them in French too|
It's such an amazing gift to be able to give Aiden with more wide-ranging and additional, non-intuitive benefits than I can name. Plus, I really want to develop that skill myself- it's fun and opens doors and, really, it seems only fair to David. Plus, did I mention I find it romantic?
I've tried Rosetta Stone and really like it and also have been meaning to try Duolingo (which looks cool and is free). I'm even considering Little Pim for Aiden, although it's not free and it feels a little over the top in a tiger-mom-ish way. I'm also really excited about the baby books I got recently. They are for Aiden obviously, but also for me in a way- I heard somewhere that reading familiar children's books in a new language was good way to learn (as an adult). Sounds lovely. I really hope it's true so maybe we can learn together, Aiden and I.
I should be able to keep up with a 2 year old, right?