While there has been debate about whether or not there is a critical period in second language acquisition (a time when one has to learn a second language before a certain age in order to fully achieve mastery of that language), it seems clear to me, just from personal experience, that in terms of mastering pronunciation of another language, there does appear to be one. People I know who have learned a second language before puberty, do not have a detectable foreign accent in that language, whereas people who have learned a second language after puberty, myself included, do have an accent.
Question: What are some of your experiences? Do you see a similar pattern? Or the opposite?
At any rate, last year when we learned that the Kindergarten program our son would be entering includes French instruction as part of the curriculum we were so happy. I have tried to teach my son Japanese at home, but I have found it to be impossible because I myself don’t have command of the language. I studied it for years (as an adult) and have lost a lot of my linguistic ability because I don’t use it on a daily basis! I think exposure to non-native languages is a great thing for kids. They are such sponges and they can “hear” and recreate the sounds in the new languages so beautifully.
Fast forward to this year: My son is loving learning French at school with his friends. They have learned so much in half a year’s time. Their French teacher is a wonderful woman who is also a great chef. She often incorporates cooking into their French studies. Recently, some of the parents were invited to join the class and help make French crepes.
After conversation time, the children practiced the French words for “egg”, “milk”, “flour”, “sugar” and “jam” and took turns adding the ingredients into a blender. After blending up the batter, we all filed into the kitchen where Madame demonstrated how to cook and flip a crepe in a crepe pan. There is a tradition, she said, of holding a coin while flipping the crepe with the other hand. If you catch the crepe in the pan, then you will have good fortune for the year!
While Madame heated up stacks of crepes (which she prudently pre-cooked before-hand), we parents helped by filling them with either sugar —sucre or jam–confiture at the child’s request, and folding the crepe into a cone shape.
Needless to say, they were a big hit and SO delicious! Jamie scarfed down two (one each —avec sucre et confiture).
After their yummy snack, they practiced flipping a rubber pretend crepe in a pan and colored in their crepe recipe. We will definitely be making these at home!
I’ve copied the recipe here, so it is more readable:
1. Mix in a blender: 2 eggs, 1 to 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon light oil, a pinch of salt and 3/4 cup flour. (If you do not have a blender, mix the ingredients in a bowl, gradually whisking in the flour and let this batter sit 30 minutes.)
2. Season your crepe pan: Heat over medium high flame 1 tablespoon oil and then tip it out.
3. Pour a large spoonful of batter into the well-heated pan. tip out excess so crepe is thin.
4. As soon as edges begin to color (in about 1 minute), flip crepe to other side. Cook quickly (about 15-30 seconds.)
5. Sprinkle sugar or spread jam or honey on top of crepe in the pan. Warm for a few seconds. Remove from pan, fold in quarters and enjoy. Other possible toppings could be shaved chocolate, thinly sliced Swiss cheese and ham, or, off the flame, ice cream.
I’ve joined the I’m Lovin’ It Party! 🙂