When Emma came out of the womb, I was ready to immerse her in the French language and culture. I feel in love with everything French at the age of eight, so I figured why not start with Emma young? Statistics show that we learn the most prior to age five and that we retain things better then as well. I’m pretty certain this is why other countries are excelling so far past us when it comes to learning languages. I considered writing my congressman about it and then decided I can only control ME and MY family. So with that in mind, JR and I decided that France would be a part of Emma’s life. When we went to France last year we went crazy on baby books. We stopped at a gas station of all places and found HUNDREDS on baby books in French. This was perfect for her! I think we bought all of these for under $20.
Our next dilemma was finding books in English and French so as she got older she could compare the two. I have several kid books in English so I just bought the French translations, and then I found this beauty.
“Le Chat Au Chapeau” (a.k.a. “The Cat in the Hat) in French AND English…together! This one is definitely a favorite and cost me about $10 but was completely worth it in my eyes. So every once in awhile I mix it up and read a French book to Emma instead of English. It’s fun to watch her listen to me speak and sometimes I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m crazy, but it will all pay off to hear her say “Maman, Je t’aime!”. The goal is when Emma reaches a certain age (not sure of the exact age, but whenever she gets English down pretty well) we will practice complete immersion with her. This is where out in public we will speak English to her but at home it will be only French. It’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to learn another language. I studied abroad for 6 weeks and picked up on so much more during that time then I did my 4 years in high school or 4 years in college. Nuts! I think this method will be what really helps her aspire to levels we could never do otherwise.
The thing is—it doesn’t just stop here. It’s not just enough to understand the language, it’s also a lifestyle. We travel to France every 18 months to the Jacques LeFevre Institute in Merville-Franceville (Normandy) to do mission work with a group of 4 AMAZING people there. We want Emma to grow in their culture and understand WHY mommy and daddy go there. It’s not vacation, it’s not out of “obligation”, it’s out of love for the gospel reaching the people of France and helping our brothers & sisters in Christ there who do it year round. Our goal is to begin bringing her to France and let her be a part of this. She will get her hands dirty, she will learn the ways of life there, and slowly become a child who is diverse and understands other cultures. Does it mean France is where her heart will be lead? Maybe, maybe not. But our goal is that our child will be open to wherever Christ leads her because of this and not be fearful and doubtful of “if” she can do it because she has seen it done her whole life. So whether it’s Bristol or Seoul, we want to empower her to be the child we know God has created her to be.
What are you doing to teach your child about other cultures?