La boîte de Charlie interviewed Shan, freelance Content Editor and writer. She’s from Singapour, has two sons aged 4 and 6 years old and has been living in Paris for almost 8 years.
Why did you decide to live in France, in Paris?
I’m married to a French guy. I chose to live in Paris because of the convenience of being able to live without a car, and to travel internationally with ease.
What do you love about France, living in Paris and the French people ?
I think Paris is amazing! I’ve been here for almost 8 years now and still never get tired of the architecture, the sights, the buzz, the mix of people I encounter when moving about.
Most Parisians I’ve met are actually helpful and open to conversations – you just have to show some respect first, which is as easy as saying ‘Bonjour’! In terms of French culture and the people, I really appreciate how so much priority is given to relationships – family and friends are so important and I love this, since it’s basically how I grew up too.
And of course – the food, the wine, the language, and the football team!!
Do you miss your home country?
Yes, I do – very much. I miss the food (SO good and SO cheap) and the weather (especially when it’s winter here). Most of all, I miss my family and friends – it’s the hardest part of being away.
How did you learn French?
I had already picked some phrases from my husband and our friends. When we moved to Paris, I took three months of classes at the ‘Alliance française, kindly paid for by l’Office Français de l’immigration et de l’intégration (OFII).
That helped with grammar, tenses, etc. I still struggle with my written French although I am now comfortable speaking in French, due to my daily interactions with the locals.
And what about your kids? Do they speak French?
Yes, they go to a French public Maternelle. Their default language seems to be English, though.
How are things at home? Who speaks French?
My husband speaks French with the boys, and they speak French with their extended family on my husband’s side.
How do you manage with both languages at home and outside?
I speak mostly English at home with the boys and my husband, though I sometimes switch to French. Outside, it depends on whom I’m speaking with.
And what about school? Do you feel like they have problems adaptations?
My older son, Rohan, had a harder time when he started Maternelle as he had spent a lot of time with me exclusively when he was a baby/toddler.
By the time my second son (Theo) started Maternelle, he was fine, as my husband had changed jobs and was home more often.
In addition, he saw his brother speaking French, so it was easier for him to switch languages.
Do you have any advice for parents who raise bilingual kids?
Start early. Children have amazing brains and find it so easy to pick up more than one language when they are young.
Thank you Shan for sharing!
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