Some advice on how to bring up your children bilingually...
As a general rule, the more children are exposed to a language, the better they will understand the language and express themselves.However, parents bringing up their children bilingually often face a huge imbalance between the language the child is learning in the community he lives in (English in our case) and the language or languages parents are trying to teach at home.
Fortunately, quantity is not the only condition for success ! It is as important to offer quality converstation to children. The quality of a conversation depends on a rich and varied discussion where you and the child are exchanging ideas. Take an interest in your childs interest, this is the best way to teach him the vocabulary which is important to him.
There is one rule which should be followed at all time: whatever situation the child uses the French language or the English language (one language = one parent, for example), he needs to know exactly which language is used and by who it is used. This rule is only valide for your family, but its very important to keep it up from the start.
Music, books, games: the classic support to hel a child to express himself in a language are true for all languages. By listening to music and stories, singing songs or playing games, your child will enjoy using the French language. The Petite Ecole offers a selection of books, videos and DVDs for children of all ages which will give a discussion support for French speaking parents.
Television: a satellite dish lets you receive french channels for free. Watching French programs will be beneficial for the language and vocabulary, but also for the culture.
Internet : there are many educational games in French. For example.: www.uptoten.com is a French/English bilingual site; www.jeux.fr offers fun games in French; and www.jeux-pour-enfants.com offers access to many games and educational activities classified by theme or by age group.
Friends and family : take every opportunity to visit your family or your friends in a French speaking country. Immersion is essential to learn and improve a language. Children have to understand that French is an essential tool for communication.
Last but not least
Be prepared to have ups and downs ! Stay consistant and never loose faith. If your child speaks later than others or if he starts by only speaking one language, if he tells you that he hates French...this is normal. Don't stop speaking French to your children.
If your child understands French but answers in English, repeat the sentence in French and ask him to repeat after you. A child might have learned vocabulary but find it hard to make a sentence. Help him to make sentences in French and correct him, this should encourage him to talk to you in French.