Joy of raising a bilingual child

Menage a deux

Now that my son masters his alphabet, or his alphabets I should specify, every occasion is a pretext to get him to spell things out. If he has not fully grasped the concept of syllables, he is pretty good decomposing any word he put his eyes on.

And here comes the fun part... In a language, most of the time one word is associated to one concept, a one-to-one link if you want. But for our little bilingual chap, it is a bit more complicated: for him, a concept or object is connected to... well, two words. One in French. The other in English. And this gives you some awkward conversations that could have featured in Rain Man.
Who is on first base? Woo.

For instance, last week, the two of us were in the kitchen for dinner when my son glances at the bread box lying on the table, and starts deciphering the word engraved on the wooden box:

"B... R... E...A...D", he spells and then underlines the word and declares with pride the word: "PAIN!" (the French word for bread).
- "No", I reply with a smile, "it is not written PAIN."
- "But mummy said it is written PAIN?!?"
- "Let's read it again together", and I take turn to spell it in a more phonetic way: "B, Rrrrr-Aid... BREAD"

My son looks at me. Puzzled. Almost upset. "Daddy, you JUST said it was not 'bread'!!!!".

It is a promising omen for our upcoming reading nights, but I could not refrain from smiling at the prospect.


  1. Impressive !
    De notre coté, on va peut être commencer à lui apprendre l'alphabet à notre Antoine. On est graaaaave à la ramasse...

  2. It´s just the start, les enfants bilingues n'arrêtent pas de nous surprendre ( j'en ai 5 !). As tu déjà eu droit au célèbre "attends pour moi!"?