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People all over the UK at the moment are rejoicing over Easter and it’s associated public holidays. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past few days off with my relatives in the seaside town of Selsey.

We’re staying in a peaceful cottage which is less than a minute’s stroll to the beach (you can actually hear the soothing sounds of sea waves while inside the house). It’s been really fun taking walks along the beach, participating in Easter egg hunts and catching up with family in general. I also discovered an interesting new addition to the daily routine of my 3 year old niece and 5 year old nephew: French cartoons.

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Every morning during their stay here, they watch a DVD called “Mimi et Panda”. I’ve been sitting down with them while they watch the cartoon and attempting to follow along. I’ve studied French almost exclusively through duolingo, and although I am amazed that I’m able to decipher some written French, my listening skills are extremely poor.

I’d consider myself firmly in “beginner” territory, so watching a cartoon with a recommended viewing age of 0 to 4 years old ought to be ideal. Sadly, it wasn’t. If I was lucky, I’d catch a word or two from every sentence spoken.

When I asked my nephew if he could understand it, he admitted that he found parts of it difficult to follow along as well. His Belgian relatives speak to him in French, so he frequently practises the language. However, it was slightly reassuring for me to know that the DVD was a little difficult to follow along.

There’s this myth that children can acquire language extremely fast and without any effort, and it’s just not true. They work hard to derive meaning from words in a foreign language, it’s just that it is difficult to quantify how many hours have been spent on practising the language.

When anyone is learning a language, its important to know that nobody gets a free pass. Regardless of your background, there is no substitute for motivation and persistence.

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