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The Boston Globe

Business

Passing down a language

It is a priceless gift, but it’s also an exhausting challenge for parents

When my brother and I were kids, our parents would sit us down for some evening conversation with a little girl named Hélène. Hélène was French; she lived with her apron-skirted mother, tassel-shoed father, and a brother name Pierre. On our 12-record box set of language lessons, Hélène would do things like oversleep, causing her family to break into song: “Bonjour Hélène, bonjour Hélène/ C’est le matin, c’est le matin!’’

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