Ten Tips For Parents:
How to Foster French Fluency
By Monsieur Dias and Dr. Chen
(More articles and videos for parents in development!)
French art tutorials
Children need to "interact" with language to understand its practical
applications in their daily lives.
Art tutorials in French incite students to practice listening skills in real time. They must interpret oral instructions, and can infer meaning by observing the tutor 's actions.
Research holds that developing aural and oral language in tandem with practicing fine motors skills, such as drawing and painting, helps engage different parts of the brain and facilitates language acquisition.
Many art tutorials are available in French on YouTube, and DiasLearning.com has just started its own art tutorials.
Videos with French audio AND subtitles
Did your seven-year-old ask to watch Disney's Zootopia again? Perfect...now let's turn this into a learning opportunity. The following strategy works best with videos familiar to your child.
If your child remembers the movie's characters and key elements of the plot then he/she can use this previously acquired knowledge as a scaffold to interpret and understand unfamiliar French audio and subtitles. Use what is familiar as the foundation to acquire new vocabulary and language skills.
There is a wide array of French content on streaming services like Netflix, including cartoons, anime, and
documentaries. In addition, you can often set the audio
and subtiles for DVDs to French.
Journaling is a short, effective way to help children develop and communicate thoughts and opinions. The key to helping kids write is to provide potential subjects, prompts, and topics of inquiry.
The term "Writer's block" refers to feeling unable to create new ideas. To mitigate this challenge, guide students with questions that incite them to develop their ideas (for example, do you think the protagonist of Wonder is a good role model? What challenges did he face? What would you do if you were in his place? Why might you encourage a friend to watch Wonder?)
Make your phone a learning tool
In addition to downloading educational French apps, you can help your child develop language skills with the following tips:
Set the phone's default browser settings to French so that
queries are automatically directed to the francophone version of websites.
Make your default home page a fun French website for
games and lessons, such as TFO.ca/fr/enfants, RadioCanada.ca/
jeunesse or Allo-prof. qc.ca. This will drastically increase the likelihood your child starts to use these sites on a regular basis.
If your child has reached an advanced level, you can change
your phone's OS language setting to French. (Just make sure you know how to switch it back!) This will make French the default language for everything on the phone so that your child gains more French exposure daily.
Comics and graphic novels can be useful for practicing French. Here are 5 ways they can serve as learning tools:
1. Children are more likely to learn if they find the materials they read to be genuinely engaging and interesting.
2. The illustrations in comics and graphic novels can serve as visual aids to infer the meaning of difficult French words and sentences.
3. Reading comics on a regular basis can help make reading a hobby and create an interest in reading more complex books, such as novels.
4. Reading comics can help practice and review commonly used vocabulary French terms, colloquialisms, and expressions.
5. Comics are generally short quick reads, which can help children develop more confidence when reading. You can also ask your child to write a very brief summary or journal on the comics they've read to develop their critical-thinking and writing skills.
Listening to audiobooks can become an effective routine to practice French daily.
Rather than listen to Taylor Swift's latest hit, play a French audiobook during your drive to work or morning run. Audiobooks develop listening skills and can help you learn proper pronunciation and new vocabulary.
Many platforms offer free audiobooks, such as the Overdrive app. You can borrow popular titles such as Harry Potter et la coupe de feu, and the app will automatically return the title on its due date so you don't incur fines. You can change the speed of the audio recording depending on your comfort level, and even set a timer or "sleep" function.
For advanced students, the free Librevox app is very useful as it offers an extensive library of classic literature.
(Interesting fact: "Libre vox" is latin for "free voice", and Librevox is working to make free audiobooks available to the general public .)
Diaslearning.com is developing original French audiobooks and other French recordings tailored for a younger audience. These audio recordings focus on developing the fundamentals of French.
E-books enable you to highlight and save important and/or difficult passages. Many e-book apps include embedded
dictionaries and thesauruses, so you can instantly look up the definition of unfamiliar words. A second advantage of e-books is their portability compared to physical books, and you can download hundreds of them for free. You can even access electronic versions
of various comics, graphic novels, manga, and magazines. Another advantage of e-books is that they require far less memory to store than audiobooks.
The aforementioned Overdrive app offers an e-book library larger than its audiobooks collection. You can usually borrow titles immediately rather than be waitlisted.
Diaslearning.com is currently developing original illustrated French e-books tailored towards a younger audience.
Word searches and Crosswords
How can kids develop their vocabulary without having to study lists and memorize words?
One simple method to build vocabulary is by completing French crosswords and word searches.
The former is ideal for helping children interpret and understand the different meanings and applications of French words. The latter is more geared towards learning the correct spelling and morphology how a word changes depending on its context or conjugation).
Children are generally engaged when completing word searches and crosswords because they tend to view them as leisurely activities as opposed to tedious drills.
Click on the PDF symbol to download a sample beginner-level French word search.
Clubs and "language buddies"
Many Extended and French Immersion schools lead clubs in French, such as robotics clubs, yoga clubs, board game clubs, and even anime clubs.
There are also francophone clubs in many core French schools with a focus on promoting the many diverse and multicultural states in the French-speaking world. French is not only widely-spoken in France, Quebec, and Belgium, but also in nations such as Haiti, Mauritius,
and the Ivory Coast.
Multiculturalism and equity clubs can simultaneously promote diversity and the French language by teaching facts about
francophone cultures and people.
Local teachers can potentially establish monthly correspondence with teachers from francophone communities, such as those in Sudbury, Winnipeg, New Orleans, or Lyon (just to name a few).
This provides the opportunity for classes and clubs to pair up with "language learning buddies". They can discover the experiences of other students in a different city, province, country, or continent.
Weekly goals with specific learning targets
In addition to identifying effective strategies to help learn French, we must plan how to
When the best strategies are not consistently implemented, their results are diminished. Think of it this way: if you had a routine with
the very best physical exercises, but did not workout on a regular basis, you would not obtain optimal results.
At the start of each week, write a very simple short plan for learning French.
Change things up every few weeks so your learning plan does not become redundant. Feel free to take a day off each week. The weekly plan should also be modified based on your child's age, level, and particular needs.
Download a blank planner template by clicking on the PDF symbol.