Since Tatie became a busy maman, to say that Carl's exposure to the French language has decreased is an understatement. So now that he's without his weekly private lessons of conversation and music, what's he doing?
Well, Carl's a two-year-old, so attempts by Mommy or Daddy to push the language ("Wouldn't you really like to listen to this lovely CD of French songs, Carl?") are often met with "No no no!" He hasn't dismissed it entirely, however. Leave him alone to make his own choices, and Carl will select something in French maybe one time in five.
One of his favorite French books is Le petit autobus. Reading the book often leads to "playing bus," where Carl sits in an old cardboard box which Mommy pushes around the room. When the box stops, Carl insists that Mommy say, "Terminus, tout le monde descend!" ("End of the line, everybody out!") whereupon Carl then gets out of the box. When we last played that game, Carl got into the box and said, "Carl's the bus driver." After a short pause, he then asked, "What's 'bus driver' in French?" (le conducteur)
Carl has his own laptop now, and with a little help can navigate to the Tumblebooks website. Sometimes we try a French book, but he rarely sits through the whole story. The pronunciation's got to be better than when Mommy reads in French, but probably most of the stories there are just too far beyond his language comprehension.
If Carl chooses to listen to a French CD, these days it's likely to be Muriel's World. He hasn't tried singing any of the songs from it, though. What he will sing is "Frère Jacques," or more recently, "Sur le Pont d'Avignon."
"Sur le Pont" is no longer a "Tatie only" song. Mommy can sing it too, as long as she's also dancing with Carl. He got that idea from watching Moustache, which he seems to find perfectly entertaining despite its blatant teaching format. He also enjoys watching Brainy Baby French, even though he's long since past its simple vocabulary.
Carl does seem interested in expanding his French vocabulary. Periodically he'll ask what a word is in French, such as with "bus driver" above. Other recent word requests include "French Fries" (pommes frites), "lemonade" (limonade), "Teddy Bear grahams" (um, biscuit ours?), and "Pringle Sticks" (we gave up on that one). Yes, there's definitely a food trend going on. Last night at the dinner table his mind must have been on something else, however, as instead of asking about food he began spontaneously counting. He made it from un (one) to six (six), then Mommy prompted him with "What's next?" until neuf (nine), and after Mommy gave him dix (ten), he continued on his own until treize (thirteen). Not bad, considering even in English he's only up to twenty.
Finally, Carl does get a little conversation practice when Tatie comes visiting. He never demands she speak English to him, even though he hears her do so with everyone else. He seems to comprehend her questions in French, although he answers in English. It will be interesting to see if and how Carl's interest and ability in French change once his cousin Griffin gets old enough to start speaking it too.
PS from Sarah: If anyone knows what "Teddy Grahams" or "Pringle Sticks" would be called in French, please click on "comments" and let us know!