Monday, March 24, 2014

My Son Speaks French Better Than Me

Oh la la, my French-American son speaks better French than me
At 19 months old, my French-American son is starting to talk and, not that I'm biased or anything, but it's the cutest thing. Most of his words are French, which is to be expected living in Paris and being surrounded by primarily French-speakers. His little accent is cute and makes me just a bit jealous because I will never be able to pronounce French words as perfectly as him.

Many kids start talking earlier but bilingual kids tend to start talking later. It's worth the wait to hear him saying stuff in two languages, even if it's hard for Mama to see her little boy speaking mostly French. The best I can do is keep speaking English to him so that he has continual exposure to it, even if he doesn't repeat it for some time.

In the meantime, I can enjoy some of these cute phrases he says:


Usually accompanied by a round of applause, usually after he's done something he thinks is amazing, like standing on the table and dancing. Wonder where he gets that from? Throw a glass of wine in his hand and he'd be the spitting image of Mama.

Ah, non!

Said with a true French nasal accent, this one comes out whenever something really dramatic happens, like he realizes there's a mess on the other side of the room. Again, wonder where he gets that from?

Hee hee hee, hoh hoh hoh. Leo sounds just like that.

Oh la la

Less severe than "ah, non!" this is used for casual mishaps, like dropping his croissant. I always thought it was a cliché, but French people really do say it!

Non, pas ça!

Much stronger than a simple "no," he uses this to express "no, not that!!!" in such dire situations as needing to have his diaper changed or turning off his music.

Au revoir

Seriously, even I can't say this right. I've adapted over the years by saying "Ciao," playing off of my Italian heritage and acting like I'm too cool for the banal "Au revoir." And here my son has perfected it, always accompanied by a little wave.

And of course we have the classic mama, papa, and bye-bye. I'm just waiting for his level of French to bypass mine (probably in about a week or two).

What were your kids' first words? What's the cutest stuff they say? Do you have any tips for raising bilingual kids? Share in the comments!

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Vicki Lesage, Author