Hello sweet friends and family!
Time for another family update…
These first four months of our time here have flown by and we are (unbelievably) halfway through our time in Switzerland this month. We’ve seen huge improvements in our language abilities in class and in around town.
Our kids have experienced some “wins” too. Lucy and Titus have both made friends at school and frequently have play dates to visit them outside of school. That has been an incredible resource for language learning, as well as a lot of fun for them! We’re practicing very useful skills as we communicate with the other parents to set these times up.
Lucy had a friend to our house last week and it was incredible to hear them speaking French to each other! Lucy has a hard time articulating how much French she knows, but when her friends talk to her, she talks back - in French. Her sentences are short and she gets creative with the vocabulary she knows, but she’s not afraid to try - and we’re so proud of her! She and Titus have regular French tutoring at school where they’re working through specific verb conjugations and vocabulary. Lucy’s class is also learning to sing “Jingle Bells”, with each verse and chorus in a different language - French, German, Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It’s really fun to hear her sing it!
Speaking of singing, Titus volunteered himself to sing a duet in our church’s Kids’ Christmas Program! He’s been working hard to learn his words and is doing really well! He’s a natural performer, and we love watching him get to do what he loves in French! His teachers at school has seen a huge improvement in his oral French comprehension since August. Once a week, his class has “Forest School”, where they go out in the forest for the whole morning - sometimes they visit a vineyard to observe the changing seasons, and other times they learn to decipher which plants are edible and which ones you can use to make a paste to put on a bug bite. Forest School days are always a highlight of his week!
When Elias comes home from school, he gives short and simple answers to the question, “What did you do at school today?” or “Comment s’est passé l’école?” He’ll tell us that he had gym or got to paint. But, then he sits down and writes out the alphabet or counts to twenty in French and I’m, again, blown away by all he’s learning. When adults greet him on trains and busses, he responds in French. If they ask him his name, he says, “Je m’appelle Spider-Man.” We’re working on that…
The other day, he held up three fingers and said “throis” (a mix of English and French). Jack turned to me and said, “We did this to him.”
Yes, we did. And I’m so glad he’s learning French!
Language learning has been described to us as walking up steps. You take a big step up in language learning and then you seem to plateau and level out for a long time, thinking you’ll never step up again. And then, it happens. All of a sudden, the things I struggled with in class two weeks ago come out of my mouth without much thought. And I’m, instead, struggling with the next thing. It’s amazing how our brains just sort through information over time.
Some recent encouraging moments for us have been…
We hosted our small group’s Christmas dinner. One of the ladies came over early to help prepare, and we spent hours chatting in French! Any time I absentmindedly started a story or comment in English, she immediately stopped me and told me to speak in French. That’s what I need!! We had a whole day of French practice that day!
We also were invited to the home of a family in our church and were able to have the whole afternoon in French! We had Swiss “raclette” for lunch after church and a walk through bare vineyards with a view of the Alps. Pretty incredible!
When we first arrived in Switzerland, it was crazy how much help we needed. We couldn’t do anything on our own - we needed help to buy train tickets, go to the grocery store, and understand the notes that came home from school. We relied on other people bending over backwards to speak a language not their own in order for us to understand. But now, we’re able to be the ones bending over backwards to have community and relationships with others! I’ve been praying for this language-learning process for a long time, and I have seen God give me clarity of mind, understanding, and ENJOYMENT in it! We love learning a new language!
And, contrary to anything I thought I’d ever be able to do, I navigated an eye doctor appointment all in French, all by myself. That was a HUGE milestone for me!
Thank you all so much for your prayers and the encouraging texts and messages we’ve received over the past few weeks! God is so good - so sufficient - so satisfying - so worthy - so faithful. He has met every single need and brought incredible peace to my heart throughout these four months. To walk with Him through so many new experiences and language learning has been precious.
With Christmas coming up and grandparents arriving from the states so soon (!!!!), would you pray for health for our family? And, of course, grace for the ever-changing regulations on travel these days. Pray that our eyes would be open to see the people around us - that God would give us the words to say to encourage. Please continue to pray for our language acquisition and our kids’ hearts and stamina. Pray for wisdom as we parent our kids and make decisions for our family.
You all are awesome! Thank you so much!
Until next time,
P.S. I’m really enjoying the competency I feel as I write this blog post… it’s long, grammatically correct, and intelligible. I may be a young child in French, but I’m still an adult in my heart language!