6 Months

We have officially been in France for 6 months!  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by and I am not looking forward to the time flying by this next 6 months.  I wanted to give a quick 6 month update.

AJ is slowly making progress with the language.  He surprises us all the time with little French expressions he will say.  Last week he answered the phone and answered the person on the other line without difficulty.  My jaw dropped as he was speaking and I think he even surprised himself.  We are still encouraging him to try to bless the Sacrament on Sundays.  He is the only Priest in the young men organization so it usually falls upon the men in the Ward, but we keep trying.  It is very intimidating for him to offer the sacramental prayers in another language.  Maybe he will have the courage to do it once before we leave France.  AJ is doing a lot of roller blading.  He wants to make sure he is ready for hockey season when we return.

Austin is progressing very well!  He is practicing his pronunciation daily by reading his scriptures in French out loud.  He no longer says school is so boring and just too long because he now understands his teachers and what is going on.  Last week, Austin told me how surprised his SVT (Earth Science) teacher was when he raised his hand to answer the question.  He is forming some good friendships and I think it is going to be difficult for him to leave, but he has FOOTBALL on the brain, so I think that is his motivation for returning to the States.

Tristan, by far, wins the prize for learning the language!  He has a fantastic ear for the language (I think he gets this from Aaron)!  It seems to come so naturally for him.  It is still a struggle at times because he isn’t 100% fluent, but he gets it and he speaks all the time in French.  The other kids are a little more hesitant still.  There are times the phone rings and I ask Tristan to answer it because he can understand on the phone better than myself. (For some reason, I am terrible on the phone in French.  I have to see the person with whom I am speaking.)  Tristan tries so hard to speak and I think that makes the difference. Tristan is doing great at school.  His grades are better than most of his French classmates and his teachers all say he is flourishing.  This is all a wonderful improvement from that first 6 weeks of tears and anger about being here! :)

Jack and Sophie are both doing fantastic.  I am so glad Aaron has only spoken french to these two cuties.  Sophie rambles off in French all the time and Jack doesn’t freely share his language.  We have to ask him to speak French.  But, his friends and teachers all say he is finally speaking and speaking a lot at school!  Hooray!!!

Aaron is trying to improve his fluency.  He doesn’t feel his vocabulary is the same as it used to be.  So, he is also trying to improve in the language.  Then there is me… I am trying!  My comprehension is very good but when I have to open my mouth I freeze!  My tongue has not been loosed yet.  I think I get anxious when I have to open my mouth.  I know what I want to say, it just doesn’t always come out right.  It is frustrating for me, but at the same time I know I am improving.  My reading and accent are getting so much better!  I have given up being hard on myself because there were a few months I put so much pressure on myself to speak perfectly, but I can’t speak 100% fluent and I don’t know if I ever will.  The good thing is that I feel comfortable in almost all situations.  I am not hesitant to go places any more for fear of the language barrier.  That is a huge accomplishment for me.

I came upon an interesting article about learning a new language.  Some people have an artistic mind and with language it is like a song or dance.  One can hear the correct “rhythm” when listening to another language and therefore they repeat what they hear.  On the other hand, there are those who have more of a mathematical brain who have to learn the language systematically.  One uses a “formula” for the language and, therefore, it is harder to have the language flow or with any fluency.  It is interesting to see who fits where with our family.  Aaron, Tristan and Sophie are more artistic with the language.  It definitely flows off their tongues easier.  Austin, Jack and me have a need to formulate the words, sentences, etc.  This makes it harder and less natural.  AJ, fits a little into both.  He is along for the ride and we are happy with what he can take away from this process.

After 6 months, my dreams are becoming reality!  I know I may never be fluent, but that is okay.  My kids, on the other hand, are doing what Aaron and I have wanted for so many years:  to speak a second language!  Selfishly, I want to stay another year so we can all retain the language after we return to the States! :)

4 thoughts on “6 Months

  1. Darcie, I love that you guys are doing this! I think it’s so awesome. My husband and I have decided to teach our little girl other languages. He speaks French to her and I speak Mandarin most of the time and French when all three of us are together. Any tips from you and Aaron on teaching kids another language in America and helping them become more than just passive speakers??!

    • So awesome to hear from you! It is so cool that you have the desire to have your children be bilingual. I find in America it is not the “norm” and it takes extra time and effort to achieve that goal. My first response would be commitment! Aaron started only speaking French to our first child, Julia, but he soon got frustrated. It takes a number of years to see the positive effects from these efforts. He gave up way too soon and as a result our older kids did not benefit like our two youngest. He committed from the time our two youngest were in the womb that this time would be different and he has stuck to it. We found (and read) that it is important to have one parent speak the second language and the other the native language. Aaron speaks french and I speak the english. But, after this year in France we are all going to be speaking French as much as possible in the home! Also, it is important to find things that cater to the language in your community. Our little town in the States introduced a french immersion program at the elementary school almost two years ago. So, Jack will go back and be in a french immersion program. These types of programs are becoming more popular around the States. Sometimes you have to pay for the schooling, other times it is public. We are lucky because ours is public. I spent years sending emails to State educational representatives asking about the french immersion for our community.
      When we are in the States, 9 times out of 10 we have the children watch movies in French. Almost all DVDs have french option.
      We try to connect with other French speakers in our community. We have friends from Africa and Switzerland in our little community. You have to network and just keep your ear to the ground. When we get back to the States I will look into forming a french alliance or something similar to get together once a month so we can keep up the language! Living in the country also helps. This has been a dream of ours for YEARS! There is never the perfect time and I know circumstances don’t always lend itself to this type of experience. But, we started off coming to France once a year during the summer for one month. This allowed our kids to get introduced to the culture so when we moved it wasn’t TOO shocking (just a little)! :)
      Hope this answers your question. If not, let me know. Where are you currently living? When did you learn French? How did your husband learn French? PS. your daughter is so darling! I love her cute round cheeks!

      • Yes! It did. Thanks so much for the tips! We’re living in Montgomery county, md- just a few miles from DC. Zach (my husband) went to Montreal on his mission. I took french from age 11-21- I definitely don’t speak as well as him (especially because french got kicked out of my head a bit in my mission by Chinese), but since Imani was born, we’ve started speaking it together. I take her to the french playgroup for exposure for her and practice for me, and we attend the french branch- so it’s coming along. We’re all happy to learn together, and the language dictionaries on my iPhone make life a lot easier! Yeah- we’re thinking of doing a month either in France or Quebec this summer, and would loveee to move there, but in the meantime, a short trip works. Any suggestions on good communities to consider in France? And thank you! Yes- she does have quite the chunky cheeks! Very squeezeable!

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