Parole de bilingue – 1

Thibaut, bilingue français-anglais, est professeur d’anglais chez Fréquences Langues, et anime en particulier les ateliers TEMPOtime©.
Désireux de prodiguer ses conseils aux familles souhaitant […]

[…] élever leurs enfants avec plusieurs langues, Thibaut partage ses réflexions et son expérience dans cette nouvelle chronique « Parole de bilingue ».
A chaque publication, Thibaut s’exprimera soit en français, soit en anglais – et fera la traduction dans l’autre langue, qui sera retranscrite sous la vidéo.

Should we set up landmarks for the child to identify to the different languages?

My personal experience was that each parent spoke their own native language.
They were very strict with themselves and never broke that rule. Even to this day, each parent speaks their own native language.
My mother speaks English and my father French. I think this worked very well. I’ve met many couples who were more lax about this.
It’s hard to assess clearly but it feels like it’s not as efficient. I feel that if each parent is speaking one single language, and particularly their native language, many things are transmitted.
We certainly can’t identify clearly how deeply this goes, but I feel that certain emotions and elements of culture get communicated on unconsciously.
Also as you suggested the language boundaries become clear for the child. At certain stages of language acquisition, even if it may seem simplistic to have one language per person, it sets a clear framework.

What could motivate the child to learn several languages?

Once again I will refer to my own experience.
As I grew up in France, being surrounded by French speakers, the motivation to speak French came directly from communicating with those people around me who couldn’t understand English.
When I was in the United States the reverse was also true, English speakers around me, and particularly my grandparents, didn’t understand a word of French. When I found myself with them, especially when I was little and often switching back and forth between languages, I quickly realized that certain words were not understood. We naturally select what works and avoid what doesn’t work in the communication. Once again the other human beings we’re interacting with reflect what works and doesn’t work and allow us to make a selection.

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