My favourite part of the holiday is to actually stop. Stop and listen. Stop and enjoy. Today, I am taking great pleasure in listening to my boys, who just recently turned 9 and 6. After a game of pétanque in the south of France under the scorching heat, they are playing and chatting away indoors. They are bilingual in French and English. My husband on the other hand hasn’t quite made it yet so whilst on holiday in France, the boys are his personal interpreters!
I am sat here being quietly astonished by the true gift being bilingual is and so many observations come to my mind:
– My boys’ ability to swap from one language to another with so much ease is touching.
– They understand what need translating for their dad and what is unimportant…
– They ask about new words they hear and don’t quite understand the meaning of.
It feels like they are ‘wired’ to constantly learn and absorb all that they hear.
– They translate colloquial expressions for their Dad so he understands French humour.
– They explain to him play with words and why it is (or not so) funny.
– They watch entertaining programmes on TV and ask their dad if he ‘gets it’ (else they’ll explain)
Sharing is the best part of learning.
– When in Barcelona for the day, not speaking Spanish is okay, they ‘get languages’ so being surrounded by a one they don’t understand is ‘no big deal’. (This, while I am trying my best to order ‘una cerveza, por favor’ with an accurate accent so I get a Spanish reply! Mission accomplished by the way… Pfew!).
– Their eyes sparkle and they are proud to get the recognition of many other tourists and shop keepers for being so ‘clever’!
The confidence with which they interact and the social recognition they get at such a young age is palpable.
Being bilingual myself and utterly convinced by the asset being multilingual can be, I am amazed by the vivacity with which my children interact in what is for them a multilingual and multicultural world.
‘We speak French and English’ adds Sacha, 9. ‘I have done a short course in Russian and I am soon to start learning Portuguese‘. ‘I’m going to do Spanish’ retorts Maxandre, 6 ‘and when I’m done with this, can I learn Russian, Mummy?’. ‘We are an international family!’ they both said vividly.
It is one thing reading about the elasticity of bilingual children’s brains. Experiencing it first hand is incomparable.
For more info on how to turn your kids into language whizzes, contact The VICI Language Academy on 01635 522410 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.