Until I started working with French kids, I didn’t realise that they have an entirely different vocabulary to French adults. They use an array of wonderful words that are both delightful and confusing for non-native French speakers. I have learned so many new words since I began working with children, many of which are vital when you’re trying to understand them!
So to help out all those expats who are working with kids, here are my top, need to know French words. ENJOY!
Faire un Caprice: to throw a tantrum. When working with kids this often happens and you need to know this word so you can a) understand what’s going on and b) say – “Pas de dessin animes ce soir parce que tu as fais une caprice!” No cartoons tonight because you threw a tantrum!
Rikiki/riquiqui: this adorable word means tout petit (very small). For example: Son ordinateur est riquiqui! (His computer is tiny!)
Papounet/Mamounette: when I asked the 8-year-old I work with when she used these words she replied “when I want my parents to buy me something.” I had to laugh at her honesty but it helped me to understand what the translation would be. Papounet means daddy and Mamounette means mummy. Furthermore, as it’s a very cute way of saying mummy or daddy it often results in the child getting what they ask for.
Un bavoir: another very important word if you’re working with young children is the word for a bib. Un bavoir is, of course, imperative to know because without it the children you work with will be dropping food all over themselves, or throwing it at you, whatever they prefer!
Caca: this very informal word means poo and will be VITAL to know.
Une Couche: a nappy/diaper is called une couche in French, so when the kids ask you for “une couche pour faire caca”…RUN!
Mon Cartable: a child’s cartable is their school backpack, you need to know this word because they will often ask you to carry it. They have a LOT of books, even the young kids,so expect it to be lourd (heavy!)