Living France - - Insight -

Four-year-old Hugo Mar­cellin has a Bri­tish mum and a French dad. He was born in France and is learn­ing French and English si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Mum, Fran Mar­cellin ex­plains how Hugo has dealt with the ex­pe­ri­ence:

“Al­though Hugo goes to mater­nelle with mostly Fren­chonly-speak­ing peers from French fam­i­lies, he doesn’t seem to strug­gle or have a prob­lem with his dif­fer­ent set-up.

From the start we had a rule that I would speak English with him and Philippe, my hus­band, would speak French. This is how it works most of the time, but some­times I find my­self speak­ing or read­ing to him in French and Philippe ends up speak­ing or read­ing to him in English.

I wor­ried be­fore – and still do to a cer­tain ex­tent – that at school he will not al­ways be com­pletely un­der­stood as he some­times mixes English and French into a sen­tence, cre­at­ing a kind of Franglais. This is some­thing that we also do from time to time as we use cer­tain words in a par­tic­u­lar lan­guage that best fit what we’re try­ing to say or those which Hugo un­der­stands bet­ter.

Cur­rently Hugo speaks both lan­guages to the same level. Go­ing for­ward I want to make sure he has the same read­ing and writ­ing level in English as he does in French, so we will talk to his teach­ers this year and work out a plan to fit in with his school­ing.”


“Find other sources of the sec­ond lan­guage, so it’s not just one par­ent the child is hear­ing all the time. Tele­vi­sion, au­dio books, bilin­gual games, nurs­ery rhymes and cer­tain kids’ chan­nels on You Tube, such as Super Sim­ple Songs, are a fun way to im­prove Hugo’s English. Net­flix is use­ful too as Hugo can watch a good se­lec­tion of pro­grammes with ei­ther English or French au­dio, mean­ing he be­comes fa­mil­iar with the same story in both lan­guages.”

Fran and Philippe Mar­cellin with their chil­dren: Hugo, Cloth­ide and Si­donie

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