Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: How is it to grow up bilingual in a bilingual city? Interview.


Friday, June 10, 2016

How is it to grow up bilingual in a bilingual city? Interview.

Interview with Dani Lechner, who grew up in a bilingual city and  is bilingual from birth.

Question 1: How is it to grow up bilingual in a bilingual city?

I grew up on the east coast of Canada in a bilingual city. French and English were a part of my home, my community and my entire environment from the beginning. At home and in my immediate family everyone spoke French and English. I went to French school till I was 18 but English was present everywhere else.

Many of my family members chose to only speak English many only French.

I cannot even remember when I couldn't speak either French or English. The way it was in my family is you choose which language is most comfortable for you and that's it. For instance my maternal grandmother spoke mostly English with us although she can speak both languages. And when she spoke we just answered in French which came easiest for us since we were in French school. With some of my friends I was more comfortable speaking English although I identify most with the French side.

It's somehow hard to explain but where I come from everyone is bilingual, if you're not it’s almost weird. So from the very beginning I was immersed in both French and English equally. There were periods growing up where I was most comfortable speaking French and other periods (like now) where I feel more comfortable speaking English.

I never realized what a great gift my parents had given me until I was an aupair in France when I realized that no one was bilingual. It was quite a surprise to be honest. I just assumed everyone was bilingual. I'm very privileged to have had such an upbringing and I'm happy that I can also offer my children the same ;)

Question 2. What language did your parents speak to you when your were little? Did they mix the languages? How about code-switching?

My parents spoke French to us and sometimes my mother would speak English, depending on her mood I guess :) and YES we 100% mix languages all the time. As a matter of fact they've even starting calling it a French dialect because it's a mix of French English and "old" 1700 French which no one uses anymore except where I grew up. The "proper" French we learn in school and same for English. And therefore yes code-switching masters in our house growing up ;) but it was also fun because if we were around people who only spoke English we would secretly speak French so they wouldn't understand and vice versa. The negative side of this story is that the code-switching has actually become a language we call Acadian, and it's sometimes difficult for some to speak "proper" French (meaning only French).

Question 3. Since you grew up speaking two languages and often were code-switching, do you feel any difficulty speaking only one language, when you speak to a monolingual person?

Interesting question. To be honest not really. The one thing I would say is that because we speak a dialect in French it's sometimes difficult to be understood by others because some words are pronounced different. But generally no problem keeping to one language :)

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Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

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