My three year old recently came home from playgroup with a new word. Which no doubt has got the poor boy very confused. The word in question is 'Nein' (the German for 'no'); which he likes to follow with the word 'ten'. Strasbourg's location and history means that the German language is used a great deal in Alsace in addition to the unofficial local dialect (Alsatian) which is basically an Olde Wurlde version of German. So there we were worrying about the affects of a bilingual environment on our child - when really we should have been worrying about the affects of a polyglot environment!
I am in the fortunate position of occasionally being able to benchmark French Television programming against contemporary British fayre. And I am afraid to say that they are both as bad as each other. Indeed the same could be said of popular music in both countries, but I would never dare to say so - for fear of sounding like an old fart. There is one glimmering light on French TV however, a programme which can be enjoyed four nights a week on TF1. It's a fast-paced, never-a-dull-moment, feast-for-the-eyes extravaganza factual programme (in French of course). The downsides are - it's rarely more than two minutes long, and the show's presenter occasionally goes off on holiday. BUT without a doubt the weather report with Evelyne Dheliat has to be the best show on TV, no question! Glorious Evelyne hits the screen like she's on amphetamines; and her eloquent verbal diarrhoea is accompanied by a presentation style that is all at once vivacious, confident, sexy, energetic, enthused and very very French. Like newsreader Claire Chazal, Evelyne is no spring chicken, [...]
There is a family game, which I knew fondly as a child as 'Consequences', the equivalent title of which this side of the channel is rather macabre: Exquisite corpse. Essentially 'exquisite corpse' (or cadavre exquis in French) refers to a method art-form by which collaborators add to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being inspired the previous person's contribution. Last year I saw a show at the Kafteur of the same name without really understanding the title. Now I understand the title it is clear that the creators of 'Cadavres Exquis' developed the show in this rather unconventional manner, while at the same time using the title itself as the inspiration for its theme: death. Before you get too depressed it is worth knowing that the creators in question, Jean-Luc Falbraird and Etienne Bayart, are top-drawer comedians. The result then is a show that is dark, side-splittingly funny but above all - surprising. Why am I telling you this now? Well, it is one of the few professional comedy productions you'll be able to [...]
There seems to be no such thing as 'Prime Time' TV programming in France, at least not on the national channels (France 2, 3, 4, 5, O). Nothing demonstrates this better than the Friday-night post-news slot on France 3, which has been occupied by the same show since mid September. At first, it had to do battle with the monstrously popular 'Star Academy' over on TF1, which is a guaranteed ratings hit year-in year-out. So it made some kind of sense that France 3 would throw in the towel and show a 'sea' documentary during prime time. Over half a year later however, the same show is still rolling out every Friday night for it's specified duration of two (what seems like three) hours, with little competition. 'Thalassa' as it is called (though I have no idea why) is essentially a reportage magazine show themed around the ocean: one week they're following a ice breaker through the Arctic, the next they're looking at crabs on sandy beaches in the south pacific. Don't get me wrong, the show isn't that [...]
Here's some trivia for you: 'ass-drainage' is the perfect anagram of 'Andre Agassi'; but I digress, that's not what this post's about, but I thought you might want to try dropping that in to an awkward silence sometime? Ass-purge on the other hand isn't the anagram of anything; it's the phonetic pronunciation of 'Asperge' which is French for '
One thing we never really considered when we moved to France was how our children would cope with growing up in a bilingual environment. With hardly a sentence of French between us, let alone any first hand experience of bilingualism, we just assumed that their language skills would develop as normal - but in two languages. The advantages of being bilingual, in terms of cognitive development are well documented, however, what is not well documented is the language development process/milestones that lead to bilingualism. So when our two year old turned silent ... we started to worry. Endless searches on the web revealed all sorts of information that was predominantly based upon a parental-language relationship (i.e. mum speaking one language, dad speaking another). Our immigrant situation - one language at home, another language outside - did not seem to get a look in. So we decided to take medical advice, and the Doctor referred us to a (monolingual French speaking) speech therapist - who simply shrugged and admitted that she had no idea as to why junior wasn't talking. [...]
Extracts from "ASSESSING LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN BILINGUAL PRESCHOOL CHILDREN" by Barry McLaughlin; Antoinette Gesi Blanchard; Yuka Osanai TABLE 1: A Typology of Bilingual Development Based on Conditions of Exposure and Use Subsequent Experience High Opportunity/ motivation for use of both languages: Low opportunity/ motivation for use of both languages: Prior Experience High exposure to both languages: Simultaneous Bilingualism (Type 1) Receptive Bilingualism (Type 2) Low exposure to one language: Rapid Sequential Bilingualism (Type 3) Slow Sequential Bilingualism (Type 4) In this table, Type 1 bilingualism represents the case of children who are simultaneously bilingual in the sense that both languages develop equally or nearly equally as they are exposed to both and have good opportunities to use both. Although perfectly balanced bilinguals are rare, many children in early childhood education programs have been exposed to two languages and use both. For example, many children speak Spanish with their parents and older relatives, but English with their siblings and other children. Type 2 represents children who have had high exposure to a second language throughout their lives, but have had [...]
Don't be surprised if you hear the sound of bagpipes in Strasbourg this weekend; as Saturday's parade of nine Celtic pipe and drum bands from across Europe will mark the culmination of the 2008 EuroCelt festival in Strasbourg, during which much squealing, honking and drumming will have taken place (and that's just at the bar in the Palais des fêtes!). I was fortunate enough to stumble across the last Euro-Celt parade in 2006, and it was (to say the least) an education. There was I, under the impression that the Scots had a near monopoly on bagpipe music, watching slack jawed as kilt-sporting bands from Germany, Switzerland and France marched by. At one moment, I thought I had spotted a 'true' Scottish band, as there was much waving of the flag of St Andrew and the Scottish Arms up front, only to discover that they were actually from - Heidelberg. Apparently the Glasgow Police Force band were there somewhere - but I don't recall seeing them. Perhaps they went missing during a tour of the Cronenbourg brewery that day [...]