I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love the way it has opened up different avenues for learning all kinds of things (including French and other languages), but I hate the way it’s so easy to get sucked into it and have it take over our lives. In order to get the tech-benefits without the vortex effect, we are very intentional with our use of technology in our learning (and in our lives, but that’s another story).
Here are 4 ways we use technology to supplement our journey to bilingualism:
Screen-based independent learning
We set aside 15-30 minutes maximum 4-5 days per week for screen-based language learning. During that time, we’ve worked through several different websites and apps. Here are our favourites so far:
Hands-down, this is the best one I’ve seen for kids who are old enough to be able to spell at a basic level. My daughter started it when she had just turned 8. This program is available online at duolingo.com, and you can sync your progress to your mobile device by getting the app on iTunes or Google Play. Languages offered are Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. The lessons are given in a logical order and include using the vocabulary in sentences. I tried a few lessons myself and was quickly addicted to it. The best part is that it’s free! (For more information, read my full review of Duolingo.)
Mini TFO – Bisou
For the youngest French-language learners, Bisou is truly an immersion experience. The web site has vocabulary-building games and activities that really engage preschoolers and kindergartners. All instructions are given in French, but even kids who are just starting out can intuitively figure out what they are supposed to do. You can find Bisou on TFO’s web site.
I have a group of about 5-6 children who meet in our living room weekly for “French Club.” At the beginning of our time together, we learn a new French song using YouTube videos. The kids absolutely love these! There are many videos that are really well done (and a few that are totally inappropriate, so I obviously screen them first.) After the song, we do some non-technology based games and other activities to reinforce the vocabulary learned in the song. This process was such a huge hit that I put it all together in a downloadable pdf package.
Speaking of pdf packages, technology has opened up the ability to purchase items that wouldn’t otherwise be available, and this is the third way we use technology to help learn French. Instead of paying ridiculous shipping fees from France or elsewhere, so many options are now available as pdf files. No shipping fees and instant access. Love it!
Sharing ideas and material
The ability to connect with other parents and educators who have the same goals as we do has been invaluable. Forums, blogs, and social media have all been a great source for finding ideas and refining different techniques. I’ve also been able to find some material online at no cost. One of the other activities in our French club is to practice and present simple plays. We’ve done 3 so far and 2 of the scripts came from online sources.
Yes, technology can be overwhelming and even annoying sometimes. But for our journey to bilingualism, it’s been a tremendous asset!
This post has been linked to the Raising Multilingual Children blogging carnival.
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