Friday, January 10, 2014

learning to speak? learning to fly!

For the first two years of her life, Gwyneth didn't have much to say (using words, at least--she's been quite a shrieker all along).  For the past six months or so, though, she has started talking to us, really communicating.


Of course, it's primarily in English.


(Oh, I'm not supposed to react this way, am I?)

Gwyneth definitely prefers using English words, but she does seem to understand both languages equally well (unless her papa and I are trying to, say, brush her teeth, convince her to leave her diaper on in bed, or go to sleep before 9:00 pm).

She has a handful of words that she knows only in French, probably from books I have read to her, and when prompted, she will supply individual words in French (e.g., "Comment dit-on 'elbow' en francais?"  "Coude!"--but if you simply ask "Qu'est-ce que c'est?", she will only tell you "elbow."

At 2.5 years old, both her big brother and cousin Carl had been making four- and five-word utterances in French, so I was feeling a bit impatiente.  Yes, yes, I know that each kid has her own strengths and weaknesses and timeline, so I wasn't worried per se--just eager to hear what she would have to say for herself en francais.

So imagine my joie when she created her first spontaneous three-word sentence in French this week!  We were reading a book about the various homes for farm animals (clapier, poulailler, etc.), and she looked up at me and informed me, "Dumbo 'bite cirque."
Dumbo, l'elephant volant 

Dumbo habite dans un cirque!  Dumbo (Disney's animated flying elephant) lives at the circus!  Three words, contextualized, coherent, unprompted.



  1. Thought of two more fun French anecdotes:

    1. Yesterday, Gwyn watched me make tea and then asked what I was doing. I explained, "J'ai mis un sachet de the dans l'eau bouillante et maintenant je le laisse infuser." [I put a tea bag in boiling water and now I'm letting it steep.] "Fuser?" she asked. "Oui, infuser." Then she picked up a foam rocket that belongs to her brother and said triumphantly, "Fusee!" Yes, indeed, "une fusee" (rocket) does sound like "infuser (to steep)!

    2. Gwyn is slow to catch on to colors in either language. Right now she can identify things as one of two colors: "rouge" (red) or "non rouge" (not red)!

  2. And here is a terrific example of her "franglais": when an electronic toy wasn't responding to her pokes, she exclaimed, "Ca no work pas!"

  3. Aww, Gwyn is doing it...a bit of french a bit of English. Love the last example...elle tres charmante :)
    At 3 my kid is still resisting our 2nd language, although he likes to use specific words in either languages...don't know.

    I just wrote about this some days ago. It's not unfrequent that second children have more difficulties than their siblings when it comes to speaking a second language. But think about how much more prepared you feel compare to those days when the first one was her age! Always look at the bright side...