Yesterday talking to my FIL he asked me, surprisingly, if we as a family spoke English together. Well up to now I have only spoken English to Rémy and then I speak French with Thumpah. She only speaks French with him.
Although Thumpah can speak English excellently, she admits that she is getting a little bit rusty through lack of use. OK she uses it to speak to her Taiwanese colleagues at work, although sometimes their English can be hard to understand, but aside from that she doesn’t normally speak it.
So last night I brought up my conversation with her Dad with her and she thought it would be a brilliant idea if we could speak English together as a family a couple of days a week (the couple of days was my idea). So on Wednesday, when there is no school and on Sundays we’ll speak only English in the house.
From other Anglo-French famillies I have often heard that, as parents, we should stick to our own languages. Which up to now we have done. But my FIL’s conversation made me realise that Rémy, although being able to understand English, might end up not actually wanting to speak it. Mainly this being due to the fact that now he is in school, where of course he’ll speak and hear wall-to-wall French. So it is going against the grain when it comes to the advice I’ve always had.
Thumpah decided to speak English to Rémy last night as we ate our evening meal. We were pretty shocked by his reaction, when he told his Maman to speak French and not English. Of course I have just spent 2 weeks away, which is a long time for him and for me, so was a bit taken aback by his reaction. He even went as far as saying he didn’t want to speak English. Whoops.
Then I spoke to him in English and he actually said to me, that he didn’t want to talk to me because he was talking to Maman. I suppose you can guess how I reacted – I told him off for being so rude! Well, for me he wasn’t being very polite. Having raised my voice, that made him cry – so I had to come and sit next to him and we both explained WHY we speak in English and French and then said to him that when he starts to learn English at school he’ll be ahead of everyone. Somehow he took in everything we said to him, while explaining that it wasn’t very good to be rude to me – that it is always good to be polite to his Maman & Daddy and also everyone else.
Personally I think he is going to take some convincing to this new idea of speaking English two days a week. I’ll keep you posted…