Recommended Read: Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

In the weeks since its release, Bringing Up Bébé has been a topic of debate on both sides of the Atlantic. While some have been quick to label it as a parenting manual, or an affront against American parents everywhere, Bringing Up Bébé is really one mother’s account of navigating the new and mysterious world of parenthood, and having to do it in another country, proposing a culture shock all its own.  Bringing Up Bébé is an amusing, touching, and adventurous account of life as a new parent and the choices one must make in the best interest of one’s own child, family, and life.  Bringing Up Bébé highlights the  inner struggles we all face as parents, on both sides of the Atlantic. Through the author’s light and humor-filled look at her own trials and tribulations, we just might find a bit of ourselves – who we are today and who we’d like to be.

Rating: *****  (5 Stars)

Have you read Bringing Up Bébé? Share your comments!

Bilingual Babies: Expose now, benefit later

At birth, we are born with the ability to discriminate and repeat the sounds of any world language. As we begin to live and function within the language of our society, we slowly lose the need to produce these other sounds and the brain eventually reduces this ability. This is why we see many toys (such as Around the World See and Say), cartoons (Dora, Diego, & Ni Hao Kai Lan), and video series (such as Baby Einstein and the On Demand children’s programming) designed to introduce the sounds of other languages to children as early as possible with a goal of keeping this ability alive within the brain.

While American parents tend to be hesitant to introduce a second language before the child can actually speak English, research shows that benefits of doing so abound, including: increased academic abilities over multiple subject areas, easier recovery from brain injury, and delays in the onset of age-related dementia.  The brain is an amazing thing. Exposure now, will certainly provide benefits later.

Interested in getting your child started in becoming bilingual? While TV shows, videos, and online programs are a great place to start, and can provide a base of knowledge serving as a springboard for acquisition, research shows that human interaction is important.

Worried? Hesitant? Read this article in Science Daily

Is your child learning a language? Let us know how it’s going! Share your story by posting a comment!

Coming Soon: Easy ways to introduce foreign languages to children

Lost in Translation: Differences in dialect can be a funny thing!

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In an effort to expose my children to the French language, as spoken by native speakers (as well as snow) we have traveled to the province of Québec, Canada for the last two years. During our first visit, in 2010, we got off of the plane and drove straight from Montréal to Mont Tremblant, about 1.5 hours to the north, in the beautiful Laurentian Mountains. Being in a resort area, the French that we encountered was much more standard, closer to Parisian than Québécois. Other than the slight difference in accent, we had no communication issues whatsoever. This year, however, we learned that stopping along our route between the two more international destinations would expose us to many more colloquial expressions and provide some comedic moments.

We never thought that a stop at Burger King drive thru would provide a teachable moment in Québécois French vocabulary, but it did. To be sure, having to communicate via the standard drive thru communication system, didn’t help. We thought we had ordered a hamburger with ketchup, lettuce, and pickle with a Sprite “comme boisson (pronounced bwah-sohn).” In Parisian French, the word boisson means drink or beverage . As we pulled away, my husband began to take our food out of its packaging, while I drove. He looked at me and asked if I had ordered a fish sandwich. Of course, I hadn’t, yet we were both looking at a fish sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and pickle (icky!). As we nibbled on our food, I kept replaying in my head, and discussing with my similarly confused husband, how we could’ve ended up with a fish sandwich. Then it hit me! The French word for “fish” is poisson. At first, it seemed like a simple thing to me. Through the speaker system boisson was interpreted as poisson, but it gets better. We later learned that boisson does not even exist in Québécois French, having been replaced through the centuries by the less common, and more anglicized, word: breuvage (meaning: beverage or brew).

Lessons learned? Research common dialect differences before traveling!!

What is a dialect? Simply put, a dialect is characterized by differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation within a language when utilized in different regions of the same country, or in different countries.

Are you planning a trip soon? Whether abroad, or within the United States, it a good idea to familiarize yourself with the dialect spoken in the area where you will travel. Believe it or not, the English language has almost too many dialects to count!

Explore the following links to learn more:

English Dialects

Spanish Dialects

French Dialects

Looking for more language dialects?

Explore this link, by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect

Have you had a “Lost in Translation” experience? Share it by commenting below!

Who am I today?

Welcome to my blog! Rarely do our lives travel in the straight line we envisioned when we were, oh, let’s say…. much younger and just a tad more naive. After many twists and turns, and some interestingly unexpected life and professional experiences, I find myself asking “Who am I today?” on a regular basis. At any given moment, I can be any of the following: writer, editor, academic, researcher, educator, program developer, policy consultant, linguist, traveler, mother, wife and more.

Life comes with twists, turns and lots of unexpected events! Just who am I today? Join me as I figure it out. ~Nicole