13 Jun 2011


O for my children to be bilingual. We are having breakfast in French again. Encore. Child No 1 groans, sticks her fingers in her ears, delivers an amusing (in her mind) French hand gesture and heads off early to school.

“Au revoir, chou-chou!” I cry. (Bye bye, pet)

“J’espere tu seras captive par le Latin.” (I hope you’ll be captivated by Latin!)

It’s Latin today. Child No 1 and I have a deal. If she passes Latin GSCE with a decent grade, she gets a lump sum. How else can you get a 13-year old to voluntarily do after-school Latin? Cash incentives work. Ask anyone in the City.

And with Latin comes Language Understanding which hopefully will improve her French. Thank goodness for Michael Gove and his Ebac. Now at least the schools are vaguely on my side, since the Ebac requirements insist that at least one Modern Language must be achieved at GCSE. Which is a bit more useful than doing Basketwork or one of the useless GCSEs which counted as a proper exam in the past. So Gove’s Ebac plus bribery might turn my eldest child into a linguist.

It is hard work, though. I hired a lovely chap called Gerard to come and chat in French to the others last year. Total disaster. They all hid under the table, teased him, were rude to him and essentially refused to speak. I was so embarrassed I ended up doing the French conversational hour on my own with him.

I was so determined to get my children to speak French that last year I took them around the French speaking world for 14 weeks. All they learned during this experience was how to go up to the bar and ask for a glass of Coke, because I will never order it for one of my children. Yeah, and I bet Amy Chua doesn’t either.

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