French Vocabulary: Babysitter Language!

As I create my custom french class, as outlined by the Fluent Forever method (have I mentioned this enough times yet?), I had to decide what vocabulary I would need to succeed living in France. While still in Ireland, I made a list of words and phrases related to my serving job for french. This was in case I ever encountered a french group at work and had the nerve to speak with them (unfortunately I only got the chance to speak with one group of french people, they were very nice and encouraging, so I felt comfortable speaking poor basic french with them). 

Currently I work as a babysitter for a family here in France. The children speak only french and while I was supposed to be teaching and speaking in english, it’s hard to interact with a child if you can’t speak with them at all. At first, I was just improvising words and phrases to at least get me through the day, but as I started to learn the routine, I began to realize what kind of words and phrases I would need to most efficiently get along with the children. 

One day I sat down and listed all the activities the kids engaged in and started a quizlet using the phrases I would have used in english related to these activities. Notably things like “Do you want to draw?”, “Go take a shower”, “No more netflix”, etc.  Some of these phrases I already knew how to say in french, but for the remainder I grabbed my trusty french teacher (aka Augustin my boyfriend) and I had a conversation with him about what is the best way to say this concept in french. I had already used google translate on a few of them and he laughed, explaining that I couldn’t say, “C’est le temps de douche” and helped me find the better french equivalent.

We worked through the list and the next day I reviewed it before hopping on the train to work. This first day with my list I didn’t remember everything, but I began to incorporate phrases from the list and having little shortcuts like this made a world of difference. It allowed me to be a little more fluid with my words and probably be more understandable to the kids. I try and review this list every now and again, at least once a week, so I can remember all the phrases and try and incorporate forgotten phrases in with the kids. Recently I’ve been using “Sois gentille!” “Ne sois pas méchante!” It reduces the arguments a little bit, but at least I have something to say instead of awkwardly trying to force them apart. 

Best Phrases for Babysitting for a French Family

Français English
Comment tu dis (….) en anglais How do you say (….) in english
Tu sais comment on dit (…) en anglais? Do you know how we say (…) in english?
Qu’est-ce que tu veux faire? What do you want to do?
Tu veux faire quoi? What do you want to do? (less formal)
Qu’est-ce qu’il s’est passé(e)? What Happened?
Il s’est passé(e) quoi? What Happened? (less formal)
Comment ça s’est passé(e)? How was it?
Qu’est-ce que tu a fait aujourd’hui? What did you do today?
Tu as fait quoi aujourd’hui? What did you do today? (less formal)
C’est bon (?) All okay, it’s good
Tu dois prendre ta douche You must take a (your) shower
(Est-ce que) Tu as besoin d’aide? Do you need help?
Netflix c’est fini Netflix is finished
Arrête ça Stop that
Sois Gentille Be nice
Ne sois pas méchante Don’t be mean
C’est pas grave, on peut arranger ça It’s okay, we can fix it
Au lit! To bed!
Brosse-toi les dents! Brush your teeth!

I listed some of my favorite phrases above, but you can access the entire quizlet set by clicking on the picture below. Working with kids can sometimes be hard, and it can be even harder in another language! Don’t stress yourself out, create a routine and create some shortcuts to help you facilitate the days activities and not get too frustrated. 

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