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Testimonials: the essential role of parents in language learning

“I want him to understand his mother’s roots”

Jean-Baptiste, 39 years old

“I knew my future partner in high school. Of Spanish origin, Cécilia arrived in France at the age of 9. When our first child was born, everything happened naturally. It made sense that we were going to speak to him in both languages. We took the example of couples around us in the same situation. My wife speaks in Spanish to our son and I in French. Between us, she addresses me in Spanish and I answer her in French. After ten years of marriage, I speak Spanish very poorly. I am progressing thanks to my son, taking the basics with him. Even though we live in France, Spain is part of Sebastian’s life. I want him to understand his mother’s roots, through language and culture. He spends the holidays in the village of my in-laws. For him, it is a bath of language and culture.

There were two clicks. At the age of 1, after a stay with his grandparents, he began to speak to us in Spanish, two weeks before entering the nursery. And the summer of his 3 years, he started to make sentences in Spanish, in particular to obtain something. Now he is able to answer my wife and me in a different language. Sometimes he is wrong. I tell him that I did not understand and ask him to reformulate it for me in French. I read her stories in French and my wife in Spanish. We let him see cartoons in Spanish from time to time. It is a way of counterbalancing one’s school environment with our own means. Our son is very open, sociable, loves reading and board games. “

“Thanks to a sign language, my daughter learned to speak”

Anita, 52 years old

“My daughter with Down’s syndrome did not speak until she was 5 years old. Suffering from verbal apraxia, she did not have the necessary muscle tone in her mouth, tongue and cheeks. At the age of 3, Maïté listened to me, looked at me but did not speak. I refused to give up. As I have a taste for pedagogy and discovery, I followed a training course to learn Makaton, an adapted sign language, with simple gestures to accompany the main words, following the order of the sentence. I was talking to my daughter with signs and she was sending them back to me, like I was her mirror. It was very gratifying. I, who doubted her understanding, realized that she understood what was happening, what I was saying. It was all there in her head but she didn’t know how to use it. It was like a green light for me. I could offer him everything I already offered to his older brothers and sisters, books, games.

Around 5 or 6 years old, Maïté learned to read in a Montessori school, using rough letters and started to speak. At the same time, she is followed by a speech therapist and a physiotherapist to improve the coordination of her movements. Sign language gave him the means to approach intellectual concepts, such as temporal landmarks. The gestures allowed him to anchor them visually. She thus became better integrated with the rest of the siblings. If he happens to forget a verb in his sentence, we tell him so. And when she speaks too fast, she is asked to slow down. “


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