Archive for the ‘Bilingual Parenting’ Category

Measuring Cups

April 8th, 2015

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick. […]

 

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick.

If we ever move back to France, the first thing I’m hiding in my suitcase is a set of measuring cups.  Ones that will let me still cling to some of my favorite foods in moments of desperation.  Ones that will let me still smell my mother’s zucchini bread rising in the oven; 3 cups of flour, in order to keep the bread just moist enough. Ones that will still let me make waffles from scratch for my family on Saturday mornings; two cups of flour, plus a dash of sour cream and coconut oil.  And ones that will let me still get a sugar high from my chocolate chip cookie recipe that made my husband fall in love with me; 4 cups of flour for a firmness that’s just so and lets them melt in your mouth like butter.  God forbid we cook those on the French system, he won’t know who I am anymore.

It’s funny, my attachment to these little white stacked cups, with their handles and red numbers engraved on the side, because I learned how to cook in France, without them to guide me, yet I feel like I’m not quite at home without them now.

The difference between two cups and 400 grams is what keeps me from finding a home in my mother’s kitchen, and what stops my mother-in-law from inviting me into hers.  It’s a difference that can’t quite be explained, because there’s no way to make it equivalent.  It’s simply what makes me different.  I can copy their recipes, but I can’t quite duplicate them.  There’s always something just a little bit off.

I will always speak just a little different; my children will always speak it too.  Our accent, our cadence, our choice of word order.  None of it is equivalent, yet similar enough.  We are understood, but it is not always correct.  It’s two cups in a recipe that really wanted its 400 grams.  I will always dress just a little bit off, I will always parent slightly outside the lines of their culture and what they expect.  It’s simply me trying to find a balance between my cups and your grams, and knowing that it doesn’t always exist.

According to someone, I will always be holding two cups instead of 400 grams, or grams instead of its’ slightly off equivalent of cups.  Yet if I can learn to take the forthcoming questions and eye-raising with a grain of salt; whether it’s the 99 cent box from the bodega or the lavender fleur de sel at the supermarché that’s a little out of my reach, my cups and I might just be able to make it through, knowing that at least if all else fails, I still have my little white handled safety nets, and those chocolate chips, four cups of flour, and a man who loves me for them every time they melt like butter in his mouth.

I’ll always be working from the wrong side of the system, trying to find the middle ground and which recipes will work there; buy maybe we simply need to expand our palette a bit and steer clear of the cakes that don’t set and the loaves of gluten brick.

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As I’m finishing up my last semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I found out right before the semester started that I was short one English class, so I’ve been able to spend the semester taking a creative non-fiction writing class.  It’s my favorite genre to read, and I think I finally found my writing niche; I can get lost with hours and hours of journaling for the class… This is an excerpt from one of the pieces for class, and it’s the inspiration for a longer piece due in a few weeks that I’m currently working on.  This course ranks high in the top 3 I’ve taken at FIT, and it’s not even related to my major!!  But, I have a feeling it will be related to future projects… My professor is trying to talk me into writing a book about all of our French family experiences, and I have a couple other projects up my sleeve too!

xoxo, Katherine

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Bilingual Parenting: How We Do It

October 14th, 2014

Bilingual Parenting!  It’s so much fun! (Really it is, even if it’s a little challenging at times!)  I talked here about why we’ve chosen to bilingual parent our babies, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the how?  How do we do it, how do we make it work for us? There […]

 

Bilingual Parenting!  It’s so much fun! (Really it is, even if it’s a little challenging at times!)  I talked here about why we’ve chosen to bilingual parent our babies, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the how?  How do we do it, how do we make it work for us?

There are SO many different methods and models to raising your kids to speak multiple languages, you really have to find what works best for your family, and what both parents can agree on.  If both parents don’t speak the second language, sometimes one parent can feel left out, so you have to find the compromises that work for you!  Since Piper was born (almost two years ago!! holy cow that time flew by!!) we’ve gone with the one parent one language method, or OPOL, as a lot of people call it.  We stick to this pretty exclusively, but with some exceptions.  Guillaume will always speak French to the kids, and I’ll always speak English.  It changes a little for example when we take trips to France, I’ll speak more French with the kids than normal, because I’m in the midst of lots of French conversations, and we’re around his family, whom not all speak English.  We’ve been lucky with bilingual parenting, because we both are fluent in each of the languages we’re teaching, so we understand everything that the other parent is saying.  This has been working extremely well for us, Piper has a very full vocabulary in both languages, and will have super adorable conversations with us in either language.

Our plan is to continue with OPOL until our kids start school, and then we’ll reevaluate.  If we feel like they’re getting enough English outside the house, but not enough French within, we have the option of switching to speaking only French within our house.  I would also love to bring a French au pair into our house for a while at some point.  I worked as an au pair in France for a year, and I loved it, and I would love to offer that opportunity for a young girl to come live with us at some point…

One of the best parts of bilingual parenting are the new friendships it’s brought into our lives.  Just the other day, we found out that there’s a French family living in our neighborhood with two little kids, one a month younger than Piper, and one 4 days younger than Eaden.  Perfect!!  The kids get together and play a couple times a week, it’s helping Piper’s French to grow, and their little boy’s English to grow, and this mama has a new mama friend!

So there’s no official right or wrong way to bilingual parent, there’s just what works for you and your family, and what both parents feel comfortable and confident with.  If you start with something and find it’s not working, try something new, switch it up and start over a little!  It’s such a fun adventure, and little kids speaking other languages is one of the cutest things in my opinion!

 

Good luck!

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Bilingual Parenting

August 18th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved listening to toddlers learn to talk, and trying to guess at what they’re saying!  At the beginning it’s like this secret language between the parents and child, because no one else understands them yet.  But imagine if your child is learning TWO different language at once!  […]

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved listening to toddlers learn to talk, and trying to guess at what they’re saying!  At the beginning it’s like this secret language between the parents and child, because no one else understands them yet.  But imagine if your child is learning TWO different language at once!  All the sudden you have to expand your options when you’re guessing what word they might be saying…  I have to be honest, sometimes I forget that there’s a good chance the word Piper is emphatically telling me might just be in French, and that’s why I can’t figure it out (and sometimes I can’t figure it out because, well, she’s one and it’s just not clear enough yet!)  She has an incredible vocabulary for a one year old, and has rather “grown up” conversations with us, and on top of that- she has them in English AND in French!  It’s adorable, and I’m so impressed with her!  Bilingual parenting is tons of fun, and yes it does have its challenges too, but they’re completely worth the effort!
We’re off to France this week, and in the spirit of the upcoming trip, I thought I’d share some of our motivations for raising our kids bilingual!  Most of you know that my husband is French.  (I know!  How lucky am I?! 😉  We met 6 years ago, married 4 years ago, and now we have two adorable babies who are growing up with two first languages.  Why?  Well for us, the main motivation is pretty easy- because their dad is French.  They have grandparents in France, aunts, uncles and cousins in France, and an entire heritage their that I don’t want them to miss out on just because we live on this side of the ocean.  Given that Guillaume is French, bilingual parenting tends to be easier for us than most, and it’s hugely helped by the fact that I’m fluent in French, so I understand what he’s saying to them.  That’s one of the biggest frustrations I’ve heard from other parents trying to raise their kids bilingual- that both parents don’t speak both languages, so one parent doesn’t understand what the other is saying to the kids.  (That would be rough on me, if I didn’t follow along with what Guillaume said to our children!)
But besides Guillaume being French, and therefore us having an easy “in” to the bilingual world, I had always hoped to one day raise my children bilingual, before I had even met him.  I studied French in high school, and always wanted (and still do!) to learn Russian, so I don’t know what language I would have gone with, but I wanted to at least try.  I want my children to grow up with a respect for other cultures around the world, and not expect the world to revolve around their English speaking skills.  I love that we’re able to give them this opportunity, and if bilingual parenting is something that you’re working on too, I wish you the best of luck!!  Stick it out, it’s SO worth it!  While we’re in France over the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some more of our bilingual journey with our kids, some of the challenges, and different methods that we’ve tried/seen other parents do!  And if you have any questions, I would LOVE to chat with you!  Send me an email/comment anytime!
Happy Monday friends!
xoxo
K