We are trying to raise our children multiliterate: Literate in multiple languages as well as fluent in the many other important literacy areas (media, physical and cultural literacy, to name a few).
For language learning, we are starting off with English and French. I speak to the children only in French and everyone else, including their father, speaks to them in English. Obviously, English is not a source for concern. Soleil, especially, can express herself in English very well. On occasion she will speak franglais, throwing in just one word of French to an otherwise entirely English conversation. Geo doesn’t speak much yet, but he is apt to use more French words than his sister. We’re wondering if this is because Geo was exposed to French from birth, whereas Soleil didn’t start hearing French until she was 6 months old.
We read today on BilingualReaders.com that in order to ensure success in raising multilingual children, Dr. Orlanda Varela states children should be exposed to the language for about two hours per day. I doubt Soleil and Geo receive two full hours of engaging French exposure time with me on work days. Luckily we have many amazing French children’s books which are treasures we look forward to each and every night. We also use many online resources from Sylvia Duckworth’s amazing YouTube channel to engaging online games such as Up to Ten’s Boowa et Kwala. But is this enough?
Patricia Kuhl’s recent research proves that babies need a human to take their statistics on languages prior to their first birthday. By the time babies turn one, their ears have been formed to hear the sounds they need to hear, but only sounds produced by humans are considered by the baby’s brain as vital. What does this mean about our multimedia approach to language exposure? Many of the fun videos on our favorite YouTube Channel have repetitive interactive parts. We find ourselves singing or dancing together as a family while watching them. I’m hoping this sort of interaction will encourage language acquisition much better than if we were to rely on less interactive videos, alone.
Another technique I’m incorporating to boost our multiliterate endeavors is nightly music. Once the stories and been read and the children are snug as a bug in a rug, we push the play button on their iPod. We have created many short French playlists for Soleil and Geo’s nightly French serenade. The idea is that over the years and through the repetition of the children’s songs, the lyrics will stick and ultimately fuel their French skills.
Unfortunately, at this point, we are not seeing much French speech from either child…
I’m very curious to learn what others think of our efforts! Please post your comments, thoughts, suggestions! We would greatly appreciate them!
Thank you for reading!