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.
This is a group of kids ages 3-10 who meet weekly for various activities. I’ve posted a few example weeks here and here.
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:
This is very impressive! I appreciate you sharing the specifics of your plan. I’m starting out small in the Fall with The Easy French, but over time I hope to add some of these elements.
We used the Easy French a few years ago. My kids liked the cat and I liked the quality of the product. It’s great for auditory learners. Hope it works for you!
Wow, these are some great ideas, thanks! We primarily use Rosetta Stone to learn French.
We are so much in the same boat. I am going to have to try your schedule.
I have used French Essentials. I liked it but the boys were not too keen on all the written work. They are using Mango Languages right now.
I am so glad to find your website! Some days, I feel like I am swimming alone in a really big ocean! Thanks for sharing some resources.
I started on this French journey a year ago. I started by letting the kids watch little Pim. Then, (bad mom here), I allowed them to only watch french cartoons/shows(via youtube). We started with Petit Ours Brun, then Tchoupi. Then came a whole host of other things! We’ve now moved to a tutor once a week and started new workbooks that she recommended.
Thanks again for sharing!
P.S. A really cool science show is called “C’est pas socier”. It can be found on youtube.
Welcome, Amy! You are not alone! Thanks for the Youtube channel suggestion. I will check that out. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this wonderful Information! Both my daughters ages 6&7 are in a french immersion public school where they are emerged in the french language 6hrs/day 5 days a week. My husband and I strongly feel we need to homeschool due to personal morals we don’t agree with that the public school is enforcing. My biggest concern has been that if we do homeschool they will lose the language…unforrunatley I don’t speak french, only my husband does and I would be the main one teaching them due to his work. I’m considering hiring a tutor to come weekly…anyhow all your information wa very resourceful. Ty for sharing!!!
Welcome! Glad that you found some information on here that may help you. I’m working on an update to this post as my children are older and we’ve managed to up our French time to about 18-20 hours a week. Watch for that one coming up in August. 🙂
Hello. I am a South Africain English speaker who currently lives in France. I was wondering if you could be of any help. I have a job starting in September teaching History/Geography for an hour a week to 10/11 year olds. It is an extra after school programme to improve their English. There will be no tests/marking etc. The school have given me free reign for the content of the lessons. any ideas on websites to look at books? I presume a Grade 3/4 book as their English is not great.
Hmmm… that is a tough one. The only book sites that I know of are the usual Amazon, etc. I did one geography-type lesson with our French club a while back – you could flip that and do it in English. Our topic was Spain (but you could really choose any country you like). I gave them maps I printed from here: http://www.yourchildlearns.com/megamaps/print-europe-maps.html We went through the landmarks of the country and they marked them on their map – emphasizing the vocabulary of mountain, river, lake, city, monument, etc. Once their maps were complete, they paired up and played a battleship-type game with their maps. Each student hid a few “ships” (in our case I used beans as markers), and their partner had to figure out where they were by guessing one of the landmarks.
We talked about the festivals of the country – if you can’t find books on that topic, there is a lot of info online. We watched some Youtube videos of the tomato festival that I had pre-screened. We also made a recipe from the country.
I just thought of a good book source – Knowledge Quest – they specialize in Geography. Here is their site: http://knowledgequestmaps.com/ I’m not sure if they ship to France, though.
Hope that helps!
this is fantastic ,thanks for sharing the books . I did order the Grammer book Grammaire de Base by ERPI but the answer key is a big issue . They wouldn’t see it to the parent so I have no idea what to do 🙁
Yes, it is a pain. They do sell a teacher’s edition online, but it is ridiculously expensive. I have been using the books and relying on my own knowledge to correct my kids’ work, but it would be much easier with an answer key.
Wow! It was a great read. I completely agree with you. Learning through children’s programs or books, especially the audio books, is a great way for anyone to begin learning a language. Once the most common verbs are learned, learning and understanding when hearing someone of that language speak makes much more sense.
Thanks for sharing! I love to read what others have experienced. I’ve been a French Immersion (high school) teacher and would love to know what kind of help/support would be beneficial for you, in your homeschooling journey. 🙂