Let's Get Bilingual

Posted by Analyse at 6:55 PM

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Frenchguy was again in turmoil. He was with 2 french couples and the subject of conversation was focused on how to teach a child two languages at a very young age. 5 french people who learned but french at home and school, who had collections of VHS of disney movies in french, who watched everything on TV in french, who listened to the radio in french... of course, the topic was quite disturbing. Too big a deal.

I'm no expert in languages nor do I have the right method to teach my girl any. To have a quick background, I learned Zambal because it was the dialect spoken at home. I learned Tagalog at the same time for obvious reasons. It's everywhere. I learned English from TV, I was the Scooby Doo fan. So even before kindergarten, I already spoke 2 languages (considering Zambal is another thing to be learned) and understood English. But like any other kid in the Philippines, at that age, I knew how to present myself in English too.

At Grade 1, we changed our yaya, and this time, she was an Ilocana. It didn't take me long to understand her secrets shared to our neighbor's yaya, who was herself Ilocana. They didn't even knew I understood them (tsismosa).

During those times, 2 languages spoken fluently and 2 other languages being understood, I didn't even notice that I was actually learning. I don't even remember any moment of confusion between those languages.

5 years ago, I was forced to learn French for obvious reasons. And I tell you, it was difficult. No more sponge-like brain willing to absorb another language. I guess the secret to learning several languages at the same time is a constant contact with the language. I know that it will be difficult to implement that concept here in France, where everything is in French. English DVDs, English-speaking moi... oh well, can I just cross the bridge when I get there?

Ok, all that being said, let me update you on Louna's language update.

In fact, I hardly speak the english language at the moment and I'm supposed to be the teacher. If occasional call conference with some non-french colleagues counts, then that's about it. My conversation with my 8-month old doesn't really progress. First, because I don't even know if she understands me, second, because I don't understand the response that I get. Here's one of our one-on-one conversation.

Me: Repeat after me, Louna. I - LOVE - YOU.
Louna: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! (high-pitched, of course).
Me: No Louna. Let's do it again. I - LOVE - YOU.
Louna: BOOOOOOOOO! (with a mischievous smile).
Me: I - LOVE - YOU.
Louna: KKKKKKKKKKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (with e pronounced in french).
Me: Naman si Louna e. Serious na. I - LOVE - YOU.
Louna: Pft.

End of conversation.

Optimistic me thinks I'm on the right track.


nao said...

When mother tagged me along to Zamboanga for a vacation, i'm clueless with their bisayan lingo. And when she decided to stay there for awhile, i was forced to study in one of their prestigious shools in Dipolog (may bubong naman bading! hehe!) I remember when i first asked my classmate, "nasan ang banyo nyo dito?" Nanlaki mata nya bakla. Para syang namaligno (ganun ka prestigious the school huh!) Unknown ang tagalog hello? Hahaha. Apparently, i learnt the dialect. Pati bisayan accent, san ka pa. Hahaha.

When I went naman to Saudi Arabia, would you believe bakla, 2 months lang eh hasler na lola mo. At wag ka, nakikipag bangayan na sa mga bwiset na araba. HAHAHA.

The only thing i learned from these are, it's not just the lingo that you adopt but the accent as well.

Analyse said...

naku, korekek ka dun bading. i'm sure you know quite a bit the french accent, pag umuuwi ako sa pinas, my sis and friends tease me kasi accent bisaya na daw ako, no offense yan ha.. and now, i tend to forget a lot of words in tagalog or english, that means, i start to think in french na, waaaaaaaaah!

duke said...

hey ana!

I can imagine your dilemma.Well hopefully, Louna will be able to pick up at least three languages when she grows up.

Wow youa er already thinking in french. I think if you start dreaming in french, that means you are more comfortable with the language :)

di pa naman ako umaabot sa dreaming stage.I still translate my english to french.
Di pa naman nawawala "h" sounds ko ( e.g. ouse for house) lol

Rhada said...

when alexis was a baby, she was exposed to 3 languages. I thought it would be easy to teach her all three, kasi she seemed to understand us, ke mapa-tagalog, english o german. the only problem was, i felt na parang medyo delayed ang pagsasalita niya. so ang ginawa ko, English na lang. Isip ko kasi, she'll learn the Tagalog and German later on. anyway, hindi natupad ang plano ko dahil up to now eh siguro a total of 5 (or less) tagalog words lang ang alam niya (hindi kasi ako matyaga magturo). her German is OK, just because she has a lot of German cousins and they teach it sa school din. Pero I'm sure pagbalik namin sa US next year eh makakalimutan nya din! hey buhey.

analyse said...

Duke, i guess it's every mixed couple's dilemma. you will one day get your share hehe.. actually, i'm not that stressed out, it's just that for french people, learning a new language is a big deal, so the problem. i guess i'm talking for myself, being multilingual at a very young age, and found no difficulty. i have a cousin who is married to a japonaise, and their son speaks japanese, english, tagalog and ilocano at 4 years old. i hope being multilingual runs in the family ;)

oh, i could still speak correctly, using h when i should... yun nga lang, before, i speak french with the tagalog accent, now, i speak tagalog or english with the french accent...kainis!

Rhada, yeah, if you dont practice it, you will forget it. i could just understand ilocano now, and say short phrases, yun lang, walang progress from age 6 hehe.

in fact, i've noticed that already, that multilingual kids speak rather later than others. so i prepare myself for that hehe. we will start with 2 languages for louna, i'll speak english, frenchguy will speak french. she will learn tagalog when we will be on vacation in the philippines, we're not in a hurry for this. i don't want to mix everything at the same time, baka maloka ang lola hehe..a friend's son had the tendency to mix 3 languages before, he could say 'mange ako there' a mix of french tagalog and english in one sentence..imagine him at school hehe..

Misis14 said...

hello ana, first of all, cutie ni louna. très jolie. :-)
my littleprincess is multi-lingual at 3. french, english and tagalog. she switches to french and english easily. she talks a lot, too at hindi bulol. she understands tagalog and even sings tagalog ditties pero delay siya in talking. sa ngayon, words lang siya kung magsalita in tagalog unlike in french and english, sentences na siya kung magsalita. i think it is a matter of exposure lang. i talk, sing and read to her in these three languages all the time. sometimes namimix-up niya ang mga words but that is how we learn, di ba?

JO said...

kids can easily learn different languages... you can speak to her in english and tagalog and let the dad speak to her in french... amazingly, kids will know the difference... she will eventually speak only in french with daddy and english/tagalog with you.

Analyse said...

Hi Misis14 and JO, thanks for the encouragement. i knew i was on the right track. their fear of the language here makes me doubt about my kid's capability to absorb different languages at a very young age.. talking from experience na nga ako, doubting pa rin sila, ano ba yan. thanks again ;)

charles ravndal said...

I think children can learn languages quite fast. English is my mother tongue being the first language I learned since birth, then I learned Cebuano and Tagalog at school and tend to use it the most since most of my classmates thinks I am a snobbish person because I always speak in English.

Ka Uro said...

do you and frenchguy speak only in french at home? i think you should try conversing in english instead para matuto rin ng english si louna. madali naman niyang matututunan ang french sa labas. this is what we do with our daughter kaya up to now straight pa rin siyang mag-tagalog. sa bahay, we require her to speak in tagalog. anyway among friends, she speaks english. sa school she's also taking french and german. but tagalog, sa bahay lang niya mapa-praktis. it's always good to be fluent in more than one language.

Analyse said...

Charles, I guess people from the south speak english better than tagalog. well, most of the people i met from there are like that. I hope my daughter could get that pinoyness - naturally multilingual.

KU, unfortunately yes. i dont know but we couldn't switch to english anymore unless for flirting hehe. i actually fell in love with that french accent i hate right now (coz i speak tagalog and english with that accent, errk!).. so we use it to seduce each other.. i guess the solution to our problem is.. we have to keep flirting each other, day in and day out hahaha..

kidding aside, i really try to speak english with her at home... and syempre pa, nahahaluan ng tagalog from time to time hehe..

charles ravndal said...

Yes, that is true that people in the south especially from Cebu speak quite good English. It's even funnier since I almost failed most of my Filipino subjects.

Regarding to your question in my blog, I am in Paris around Aug. 5 to 9. Is Dijon far from Paris ?

sachiko said...

hi there cool mummy!

i made the biggest mistake,we only speak japanese at home..i wanted to learn the language fast so it was all japanese only (almost)since they were small.

hayy...now im regretting it..

jairam said...

ang cute ni baby! i'm sure in time she'll learn both languages :) kids are fast learners

Analyse said...

Charles, hehe, even a girl from zambales almost failed her fil subject too ;).

Sach, i know a pinay not far from my place who did the same as you. too eager to learn the language at that time. now she's pushing me not to follow her path, at least english daw, i should transfer to louna..

Jairam, yeah, i hope so too ;)

charles ravndal said...

yeah, I heard that there is a heatwave in France now. I hope that it becomes cooler around August.

I write for the Freeman in Cebu. It's under Philippine Star. And I forgot to tell you that your baby is cute and also I'll be adding you on my blogroll! TC

Analyse said...

i hope so too. but it's normally hotter around august than july. weather reports been showing some rainshowers around dijon but seen nothing till now. that's also why we're heading for brittany, it's normally cooler there..trying to run away from the heat hehe..

temps run around 30 to 35°C..the problem is the air is too dry, if you're used to the tropical weather, then there's the problem :(

thanks, im adding you too ;)

charles ravndal said...

Oic well I adapt easily but I hate the heat but I love the cold that's why i felt more at home here in Norway. Since we only got here around 28 degrees as the warmest temp. But usually my ideal temp is around 15 to 18 degrees during summer

Linnor said...

Hahaha! The joys of parenting!



KaDyo said...

Wow Ang galing ng magsalita ng french ni baby Louna hehehe.
May ibang parents nga na nag-aalala kasi late na natutong magsalita ng akids nila , tahimik lang at walng words o sounds na lumalabas sa kanilang mga bibig

soy said...

I'm trying to do one filipino word a day to my three year old boy. If only I can speak my dialect to somebody else at home who can speak the same, it would have been more advantageous to my child. like you, hopefully I'm on the right track.

Analyse said...

Charles, wohoo, goodluck then to your adventures in paris. hopefully, temps will go down a bit..they announced some rain this weekend, i'm still waiting...

Linnor, haha, that's her fave word right now..

KaDyo, yeah, i have a lot to be thankful for, right. sobrang swerte ko dyan kay louna.. everytime i say she slept straight 8 hours at night since she was 3 weeks old..other moms couldn't hide their jealousy hehe..

Soy, goodluck to you too... of course you're on the right track, hey, i'm following you!

sparks said...

Don't stop speaking to your kid in Filipino or even Zambal. It will keep her in touch with her roots. Plus its waaay cool to grow up multilingual :)

charles ravndal said...

Thank you Ms. Analyse but I hope that I can meet you someday as well!

Analyse said...

Sparks, i will, i will ;)

Charles, that would be great. i never experienced that EB thing yet, so why not. next time.. just let me know, i might be available next time..

charles ravndal said...

Hi Analyse! Yes, you can use sesame oil. I forgot to state there that you can use the oil of your preference

AnP said...

We are using the one location-one language method. No German zone sa bahay since he speaks German in the kindergarten. And it works. My son speaks German and English equally well. He has even taken to translating to me and my husband the German phrases other people would say whithin our hearing distance. Akala nya siguro, we do not speak german. haha

JP speaks a few tagalog words. Counting up to 10, some few kulit words that my sister and I use a lot to refer to him and which he now uses.

One Filipina professor at Cornell University (who I interviewed months ago for Pinoyexpats) told me that children are able to handle learning 3 languages at the same time. But, of course, it depends on how matyaga you are and how consistent you are. She said something about it working when you use the one person-one language method.

Assess na lang the method you are using. Check your daughter's progress and go on from there. I think it's too early to tell if it does work or not but, don't give up. Believe me, later on, when she finally really starts talking, you will be rewarded of how hard you worked.

Analyse said...

Charles, thanks ;)

AnP, we're using the one person-one language method at the moment, but i will try to impose the one location-one language method, i guess it's easier and more motivating for everybody. ;)

Kat said...

pft! how cute! hopefully it gets easier for you. i myself am wondering if it's worth it to speak to him in tagalog (since i hardly speak it myself and the hubs does not speak it at all). but we are def. going to play him some chinese language tapes in the future. well, that's the plan at least!

analyse said...

Hi Kat, actually, tagalog is not in the program (just few words probably that i use regularly), she will surely catch some words when she's on vacation in the philippines. english and french..and then, kids start to learn another language here at the age of 10 i guess or earlier in private schools... so we're thinking that louna might be interested in learning chinese too.. cool!

tin-tin said...

you understood ilocano even without anyone teaching you??? wow!!! it's a dialect i can't really understand. i've watched somewhere, that there's a school in korea that uses modern music to teach the students english. maybe you could use nursery rhymes. like twinkle twinkle, or something :)

by the way, the queerchef pimped me here :)

analyse said...

tin-tin, i was forced to, i was exposed to the dialect everyday. it's actually my mom's dialect, so i hear her speak the language every now and then with her family. my mom's family speaks to us in ilocano and we reply in tagalog hehe.. sounds complicated but not actually..

RennyBA said...

Thanks for the language update. They might not say what you want, but thei are heart breaking anyway. I remember when my baby girl said 'Pappa' (dad in Norwegian)for the first time. I fell in tears and it confused her, but soon after we had a good laugh together.
Btw: Here from Charles:-)

K said...

Hi Analyse, thanks for the lovely visit.

Louna is such a unique name, does it sound like a "lorna" minus the "r"? Your baby is so normal, they pick up sounds easily than words on her stage. Bet she'll be a smart kid as she grows kasi she'd reply kahit hindi correct. Pinilit mo ba? hahaha.


Analyse said...

RennyBA, i'm impatiently waiting for that experience, im sure it will be a grand moment too..

K, it is pronounced as Luna... hehe, did i sound like a nagging mom?

Francesca said...

Cute niya Ana, kakainggit!

I got a tip from this post.I will do the same.

Michel:SAY I LOVE YOU...

Me: pfft.

analyse said...

sira ka talaga ate amy, u never fail to make me laugh! this is excellent bwahahaha..

Senor Enrique said...

Like you, I barely passed my Pilipino subjects in high school.

My sister in law in NYC convinced my brother to speak only Tagalog in the house for the kids to learn. Her reason was the kids will eventually learn English from their playmates, TV and school. She did the right thing -- all their kids are fluent in Tagalog and English.

I admire your ability for learning French, my bestfriend in New York and his father struggled to teach me, but I just never got the hang of it. There was a point they would only speak French when we went out to dinner, which was like 3 times a week, just to force me to learn.

I should have gotten a French girlfriend because then I would have learned it more passionately.

Thanks for dropping by and do visit us again to share your French perspective :)

eric aka senor enrique


I'll include you on my link page

Analyse said...

you're sis in law got the good formula then. that's great. im dreaming of my little louna fluent on at least french and english, and few tagalog words to get by when in the phils.

hehe, to passionately learn the language, yes, that's one of the secrets... hey, frenchguy is reason enough ;)

ps: i just added you on my link too ;)

haze said...

Hey we're finally back from Corsica ! We've enjoyed a lot and I hope you too will enjoy in Bretagne di gaanong mainit!

That's indeed very cute Ana! I'm sure Louna will get along very well either in French, English and Tagalog...children have good memories til 7 years according to specialists. Continue updating us :-)