International experiment with my Frenchie


International experiment explores English immersion at St. Patrick’s School

Note: I will incorporate some of the current posts into the memoir “Greenwich Meridian.” The memoir is a living document in which I track the events of the past and present. It is the story of the family immigration saga spanning three generations.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- Thanks to my French family and a history class, I know that today is a holiday in France celebrating the Fall of Bastille in 1789. The French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fort followed by a decade of chaos and executions, known as the French Revolution.

So, July 14th is a national holiday in France. The practical implications are that my daughter Emma Palova Chavent who is visiting with us in the USA can’t straighten out “stuff.” That’s what I call glitches in bureaucracy all over the world.

Ella Chavent in front of St. Pat;s School in Parnell, MI.
Ella Chavent in front of St. Pat;s School in Parnell, MI.

And now a few hours later since I’ve written this post, the tragedy in Nice, France  which left so many people dead. This reminds us of the fact that nothing has changed since the French revolution. Dead and more dead. I’ve written about this before that violence breeds more violence.

I consider our family clan to be international. Our daughter Emma, who was born in former Czechoslovakia, married French husband Adrien.

Now, I fear more than ever the international fate as Emma & Adrien Chavent ready to fly out tomorrow to Paris and their daughter Ella is staying here for English immersion.

Our son Jake, also born in former Czechoslovakia, married American Maranda. All of us speak English, most of us speak Czech and some speak French. I think Emma Jr. is the only one who speaks all three languages fluently.

That’s why I put up a sign greeting our international wedding guests in 2014 in three languages: Welcome, bienvenue and vitejte.

The international experiment 2016 involves language immersion for 5-year-old Ella Chavent, our granddaughter for six weeks. In September, when she turns six she will go to first grade in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy, France.

When Emma mentioned that over the phone, my heart ached. In six years we’ve only seen Ella six times.

“That’s the price you pay for immigration,” I always say when I tell the story.

My husband Ludek came up with the summer vacation/immersion idea.

Ella was born in Dijon, France in 2010. Her first language is French. However, daughter Emma speaks to her only in English.

So, Ella’s English is good. A grammar mistake here and there. The lack of vocabulary at her age is understandable.

When at a loss for an English word, Ella uses French. So, I get to brush up on my French that was fairly good when we lived in Montreal in the 1990s. I took French immersion classes. My son Jake went to a French kindergarten. Montreal is a fully bilingual cosmopolitan city.

We do have a history in language immersion. I teach English as a second language (ESL). There was a time in the 1980s when I knew Russian, although mostly passively.

Ella started her English immersion on Tuesday of this week. We enrolled her in St. Pat’s summer school program in Parnell, MI. If everything goes fine, she will be attending through Aug. 18th. Her parents Emma & Adrien are leaving the country tomorrow July 15th. The plan is that I will fly with Ella back to Paris on Aug. 20th.

As we approach Emma & Adrien’s departure, I have butterflies in my stomach.

“Will she miss them so badly that either I’ll have to fly out with her early or Emma Jr. will have to come and get her?” I ask myself.

So, far she has whined here and there, “Where is my mami?”

Her mami and daddy were gone for four days to Arizona.

However, the whole immersion experiment hinged on St. Pat’s school. “How will Ella take it?”

When I picked her up after the first day, Ella was all excited. She immediately made friends.

“She will do fine,” her teacher assured me. “She’s great.”

That same evening Ella already started packing meticulously her things for the next day.

“We will make a jumbo pie, I want to take it to school to share it with my friends,” she said.

That warmed my heart after her video tirade that I called “Everything is mine.” Ella scripted that all by herself constantly repeating everything is mine: the books, the toys, the food.

Watch for more immersion/immigration posts to get a feel for the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir.

Contact me for your immersion needs in English and Czech. I do have two public facebook groups Immersion Czech and Immersion English.

I have summer immersion online camps available.

emmapalova@yahoo.com

 

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