French resources can be so expensive! I had to hold my nose and enter my credit card number this week as I ordered our grade 3 materials, which came to $73 including tax and shipping for 1 small textbook and 2 workbooks (one for each child). It was especially difficult because Guérin, the publisher I ordered from, offers a 50% discount to those who participate in the ACPEQ conference, which I missed this year due to a scheduling conflict.
The materials I ordered were the grade 3 version of one of the programs we have been using this year. The grade 2 edition is called En français S.V.P. The entire program consists of a textbook (which my kids can share), workbooks (each child needs their own), a teacher’s manual, and corrigé (solutions). I bought parts of the program because it was written by the same author (Sylvie Monette) as some of the books my children had previously enjoyed.
The textbook has stories in it with engaging characters that both Miss 7 and Mr. 6 enjoyed. After listening to the story, Miss 7 would fill in the related comprehension workbook pages. Mr. 6 listened to our discussion. This process would take about 15 minutes most of the time. The stories are really short – usually 3 or 4 pages long in picture book style with a paragraph or two on each page.
I corrected the comprehension pages myself without the corrigé since they are very straight forward. The questions were often multiple-choice and there was absolutely no grammar involved. I did not find myself wishing that I had bought the corrigé at any point during the year.
We would bring the materials out a second time on another day and Miss 7 would read the story to me. We would then work through the “À ton tour” section of the workbook for that story. These pages attempt to have the student make connections from the story to their own lives. For example, in the first story, a balloon gets stuck on the roof of the school. We discussed (in French) what my daughter would do if that happened at home or wherever they happened to be playing ball. We brainstormed some ideas and she wrote in the book a simple sentence outlining her choice of getting help and having her dad climb up to get the ball. These sections usually took us about 15 minutes as well. I would have loved to have more in-depth discussions, but my kids’ language skills just aren’t there yet.
The teacher’s manual for this program was somewhat helpful at first, but I found that it got repetitive and I eventually stopped using it. The manual takes you through what to do to introduce the story and get kids talking, but was really more geared for a school setting. With my kids at home, I didn’t really need it. The only useful part of the teacher’s manual was the activity suggestions that it gave at the end of each story. Some were active (like preparing a skit, or playing a game). Others were more art oriented (like drawings or crafts). No materials are provided for the activities – they are merely suggestions of things you could do if you were so inclined. Before we started using the curriculum, I had gone through and circled the activities that I thought would work and chosen some crafts to go with each story. The plan was to do a related activity each time we read the story. I thought that it would be something fun that we could do together that would encourage the use of more French vocabulary. In short, it didn’t work. My kids, who normally like crafts and activities, resisted each time I tried to do one of the activities. After a while, I just gave up on the activities and just stuck to reading the story and completing the workbook.
Overall, I would recommend the textbook and workbooks for students who have basic French vocabulary already and who are looking to expand their knowledge. To use the program, you and/or your child will need to be able to read basic French.
You can purchase this program at Les Éditions La Pensée inc.If you're not reading this post in your e-mail, sign up for updates right here and get your free guide to Getting Started Teaching French at Home: