Q: What influenced your decision to raise your children speaking French?
A: So we always spoke French at home and I don’t think we really thought about it (laughs). For us of course it was just easier to speak French [the children’s mother is also French] and then instinctively we always thought that since we had suffered (laughs)… it’s true though! When you’re not bilingual from birth it’s harder. So it happened naturally and we don’t regret it. And the children are happy about it too, I think.
[Talking about what other people think of his children’s bilingualism] Most people think it’s fantastic, because we know a few couples in our situation who did not do the same as us – they preferred to speak English – so we feel a bit of regret from them, or a bit of longing [for our situation]. Because it’s true that having kept up this practice helps them [the children] a lot. Even if they speak with a bit of an accent, or they haven’t learnt to write well in French, they confidently know that they can go to France on their own, no worries. They would be able to get by.
Q: What advice would you give new parents about transmitting their native language if they are not native English speakers?
A: Well I think there are parents with regrets.
Q: Who regret not having spoken their own language with their children?
A: Yes, that’s right. Yesterday, for example, I was with a friend from Quebec, who has two sons. He was married to a New Zealander, and he didn’t speak much French to his second son, who was also here with us yesterday. But he is motivated: what’s interesting is that he’s so motivated. They’re just back from a trip to Quebec – they spent a few weeks there in June-July – and we could sense how much he wanted to try [to speak French], since he was so recently back from Quebec. He really wasn’t afraid to try. But the father, he didn’t say this yesterday but he’s often told me, that it’s a shame that he didn’t [speak more French with his son].
Q: And the son, do you think he also regrets not learning it [French]?
A: Yes, I think so. Yes.