Here is what my kids said after we were done reading it:
I really liked listening to your book in French. We enjoyed the story and your language combinations. One of the best things about being a kid is being a multilingual kid and learning multiple languages.
I think that multilingual children have a lot to say about their experiences as a child growing up with many languages, so I asked Inna to share a little more about her story in an interview.
Interview with Inna Figotina
My name is Inna Figotina. I am an elementary French teacher in Toronto, a bilingual children’s author of “Trilingual Me! Moi, trilingue!” and I’m proudly trilingual; I speak Russian, English and French. My book is about my personal journey of becoming trilingual. I wrote it to inspire others who are learning a new language. I hope that my readers are inspired to persevere during the challenges of their language learning journey because learning a language is very rewarding.
1) Tell us a little about your multilingual childhood.
I immigrated to Toronto, Canada from Moscow, Russia in January 2000 when I was 7 years old. When I immigrated to Canada, I started learning both English and French at the same time at school. This is when my love of language learning began. I decided that I would become a French teacher when I grow up and help others to learn a second language.
2) What did you enjoy and not enjoy about being a multilingual child?
I loved being a multilingual child! Being able to communicate and connect with other Russian, English and French speaking people, I thought it was so cool! There wasn’t anything I didn’t enjoy, I really loved being a multilingual child because it made me unique.
3) What are some of the challenges of being a multilingual child when growing up?
When I was growing up in Moscow, I struggled with my first language, Russian. I had some difficulties with my speech but with the help of a dedicated speech language pathologist I overcame my challenges. The hardest situation was learning both English and French considering my parents didn’t speak English very well, didn’t know French and only spoke Russian at home.
4) Do you remember how you resolved those challenges? If so, please explain more.
I was fortunate to have a lot of support around me during my language acquisition journey. From the teachers that I had in elementary school (my ESL teacher, my French teachers, my homeroom teachers), to my classmates, my French tutor who I learned French with on the weekends for over 5 years, to my family who was always so supportive (who I dedicated my book to). I am so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. The outcome of my struggles was my perseverance. My bilingual children’s book celebrates second language acquisition, immigration and overcoming the challenges along the way. As a teacher I’m in search for books that represent the linguistic diversity of the students that I teach. Every language acquisition journey is unique and it’s important to celebrate that. My book is a memoir of language learning and a celebration of my second language acquisition.
5) What were your favorite books to read growing up?
I read Russian books when I was growing up in Moscow. My favourite books were ones that rhymed! As a child I loved listening to rhyming words. When I grew up and I was writing my bilingual children’s book, I decided that it would rhyme in both English and French! I’m so happy with how it turned out!
6) What inspired you to write your book?
When I was completing my Masters of Education in Modern Languages of Education in French at UBC, I had the opportunity to work on a capstone project based on the research that I was conducting for the duration of my two and a half year program. I chose the topic of immigrant students in French as a Second Language program since I was once an immigrant student in an FSL program myself. Now I am a French teacher of many immigrant students in my Core French classroom. I decided that I wanted to create a bilingual resource that I can use in my classroom as a French as a Second Language educator as well as for other teachers who would love to have a children’s book in their classrooms that celebrates multilingualism.
7) What are some words of advice you would give to multilingual children?
Even though it will be challenging, you will pick up the language as long as you don’t give up and keep practicing! Your perseverance and hard work will pay off!
8) What are some words of advice you would give to parents raising multilingual children?
It takes time to acquire a language. Your encouragement, patience and support of your child is very important throughout this process.
9) Tell us about what you are doing now. Do you have other projects coming up?
I would love to continue teaching languages and writing bilingual children’s books. I love what I do. As an elementary French teacher and a published bilingual children’s author, my goal is to celebrate multilingualism and second language acquisition. Since I published my book, I am doing library programs, classroom visits and workshops for school districts for language teachers and I’m excited to continue to share my story!
You can find Inna’s book “Trilingual Me! Moi, trilingue!“ wherever books are sold!
Author of “Trilingual Me! Moi, trilingue!”
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Order the book: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/0228825059