French is certainly the most challenging part of our homeschool. Our goal for our children is bilingualism, which seems to be a very tall order for Anglophone parents. In spite of being fully bilingual myself, when it comes to figuring out how to pass that along to our children, at first I wasn’t sure where to start. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve tried a bunch of things that didn’t work for us, and I’m just now feeling like we’re getting over the hump and settling into a groove.
This past school year, our routine consisted of these activities:
|DD, Age 8||DS, Age 6|
|Independent screen-based learning time (apps, websites, etc.)||15-20 minutes 4-5 times per week|
|Grammar worksheets||10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per week||none|
|Dictée practice||10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per week||none|
|French Club||1-1.5 hours per week|
|Reading out loud to mommy in French||10-15 minutes 3-4 times per week||5-10 minutes 3-4 times per week|
|Core French approach – vocabulary activities||none (completed in previous years)||5-10 minutes 3-4 times per week|
|French workbooks (hodge-podge of stuff pulled from various sources – at each child’s level)||10-15 minutes, 3-4 times per week|
|French discussions, projects, and activities based on books||15-20 minutes 3-4 times per week|
|Total time per week||just under 5 hours (about ½ of her total academic time each week)||3.75 hours (about ½ of his total academic time each week)|
It’s funny that the hours worked out to be about ½ their academic time. I wasn’t aiming for that or even really aware of the tally until I compiled it for this post. I’m aiming to increase that time in the coming school year because I don’t think that 5 hours a week is enough for true bilingualism.
In addition to the structured stuff mentioned above, I also try to speak to the kids in French by default as much as possible. This was torturous at first, but it’s getting easier as they understand more of what I’m saying. It’s also finally starting to feel natural to me, which I think is 90% of the battle! It got easier once I stopped trying to teach academic material in French and spoke the language in non-academic settings instead. We’re doing life in French instead of academics. Overall, I think is much better because really who cares what the parts of a volcano are in French? Isn’t it much more useful to be able to say “Mom, may we have pizza for lunch, please?”
As a whole, what we’re doing is working as far as comprehension goes. The kids are learning and understanding more all the time. They are starting to respond to me in French in very short phrases once in a while, which is major progress from covering their ears and asking for English.
The plan for the coming year
With the goal of increasing exposure to the language and developing vocabulary, I’m going to build on our existing routine by adding one book-activity lesson each week and expanding what we’re actually doing during that time.
New activities will include me reading out loud to them in French (I used to do this, I’m not sure how or why I stopped!), some conversation-starter activities, simple writing prompts for DD and copywork for DS. I phase new stuff in gradually so the kids hardly notice they are doing anything differently!
As we use different resources, I try to review them on this site. Here’s a list of what we’re using right now.
Apps & websites
My oldest is still using Duolingo, which is the only site that seems to get any longevity. I’m also going to get her to take the online placement test for French Essentials and try a few of the free lessons for that program. I’ll write a review of it when we’re done.
My youngest is currently using Cricket Kids – Contraires.
We’ve just started using Grammaire de Base. It’s a really good resource for French immersion – full review here.
DD is using Apprivoiser la dictée by Envolée, which is a great program for both French Immersion and Francophone education.
DS just started using the copywork that I made for Star Wars this past week.
Reading out loud
We’re working through the readers listed on my Readers page.
These really are a mix and I can’t remember where I got some of them. I pull out all the pages and put them into one combined binder for the kids to work through in order of difficulty. For my 7 year old, most of the pages have come from Trousse de dépannage en lecture and Des Mots pour Lire.
French activities based on books
So far, we’re working on the Robert Munsch series. I’ve got more lined up for the coming year. I’ll post them as we complete them.
Not sure what we’re going to do here yet. I found some good ideas here – I just need to put them together.
For books that I’m reading to the kids, I just request a bunch from the library each month and the kids will choose from the basket or I will choose. Many of them may be along the same theme that we’re doing in our other activities, or maybe not.
Do you have any ideas for me? What do you use to teach French at home?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: