Friday, February 03, 2006

The advantages of the Garde Partagée - Part II

In our particular case, what this arrangement has provided is a fully French environment and person of reference for Milo, in order to apply correctly the OPOL method.

In fact, our nanny is originally from Morocco, and if we didn’t already have all these languages to deal with, I would have been keen on her speaking Arabic to Milo. But we commonly decided that she sticks to French, so during the day Milo is in a 100% francophone environment.

This has been proving very fruitful: this week Milo pronounced his first full sentence in French:
“Elle est partie ma maman ?" (Has my mum left?)
It was originally “Elle est partie ta maman” (Has YOUR mum left), since it was Antoine who posed the question and Milo kept on repeating it. The nanny eventually corrected him and personalized it!

At night the nanny keeps me up to date on new words learnt and topic addressed, so that we can provide the Italian and Dutch counterpart, and viceversa on Monday mornings. So far we feel he has progressed rather homogeneously in all three languages.

Sometimes I wonder, had I been a stay at home mummy, the advantages would have been others, of course, but how would we have handled the French language acquisition?

This is the issue that a couple of friends are currently facing, and they decided to sacrifice their own languages, unfortunately. Here’s the case study:

The Mum is Egyptian and speaks Arabic, Italian and French fluently. The father is Anglo-Italian and has been raised in both English and Italian. Their 20 month old Gabriel is looked after at home by his mum (together with his 3 months old sister) and is being raised in French primarily. The parents switch easily between Italian and French among one another. They fear that if he does not hear French enough he’ll have a hard time once he’ll enter school. Hopefully he’ll pick up all of the other languages later on.


giovanni said...

What about your nanny and your Egyptian friend singing little Arabic rhyming songs? Wouldn't that be a great tool for better understanding between "Arab" and "French/Italian/Belgian/Moroccan/Egyptian"kids in Paris? When in Paris recently a friend living there told me about the problems of various "nationalities" living together in different categories of areas and suburbs. Obviously, this goes a bit beyond your story about La Garde Partagée, but maybe not even that much. Your nanny (and your friendship with her) may contribute in an important way to Milo's understanding of "Arab" citizens in Paris. And maybe the singing of Arab songs is something that you may also like... Sorry, if you would feel this is something beside the point.
By the way, how is little Milo's Dutch developing in this mainly non-Dutch speaking environment?
Un abrazo.

Clo said...

Your comment Giovanni is surely pertinent, especially in light of the difficult times we are living in, just look at the news this week...I am not opposed to the nanny teaching rhymes or songs (and she does!), we simply asked her to be consistent and to use French most of the time, in order to provide Milo with a French framework , since the house hold is mainly non-French speaking. We are thinking of visiting Morocco together with our Nanny, so the experience has also opened our views. As for his Dutch, it's progressing well,especially the counting! I'll write about it in the next post! Thanks for your continued interest!

Eddie Lin said...


thanks for the article. chloe is speaking English words fairly well but her Chinese is sporadic. i'm still not being consistent with her. it's actually more difficult for me to get into this mode of thinking. and then there's the problem of my mandarin being quite limited. how can i teach my daughter chinese when i can hardly speak it????

Clo said...

Eddie, I can understand your struggle, after all the relationship with the language was different for your generation that it will be for hers. Are you convinced that speaking Mandarin will be an enormous assett for her future? Then get your act together: get your mum more involved, have her speak to Chloe on the phone regularly in Mandarin; get Mandarin DVDs of her favourite cartoons; and find other Mandarin-speaking kids for her to play with, it should not be hard. Your mandarin will grow with hers, you'll see. Just do it!!!