Greater concentration, more job opportunities and higher pay are just some of the benefits of learning a second language. And naturally, you wanted your child to enjoy some of those perks so you enrolled him or her in French Immersion. But there’s just one problem…
…You don’t speak French.
So how can you support your child’s language-learning journey when you don’t speak French?
This is a question we get asked frequently from English-speaking parents who have children enrolled in our French Day Camps and French Overnight Camps.
Last year, we answered this question in our popular blog: 5 Tips to Support Your Child in French Immersion When You Don’t Speak French. But since then, we have come across a few new strategies that we would love to share with you so you can continue to support your child in FI when you do not speak French.
Are you ready?
Tip #1: 20 Hours of Conversational Practice in French
Research suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to master any new skill. But a whole new approach to learning and skill acquisition proves that you can develop a new skill with just 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice.
Now you might be wondering, “Isn’t my child already practicing French for over 20 hours every month at school?”
The truth is, inside the walls of many classrooms, you’ll find students poring over textbooks, reading aloud from books, doing occasional activities in French – but all while speaking in English to their classmates.
So the best way to encourage your child to radically improve their French conversation skills is to find a native French-speaking language exchange partner so that they can deliberately focus on speaking in French. And finding a language exchange partner has never been easier with the many resources and sites available online. A good place to start is italki.com.
After your child’s session, you can get involved by asking him or her about their discussion and asking them to explain all of the new words they learned. Not only will this help to cement the new learning into your child’s mind, but you will learn a few new things, too!
Tip #2: Watch French Television
It takes a considerable amount of motivation and dedication to develop skills in a new language. The key to staying motivated is to find a way to continuously stay engaged with the language. But without any imminent need for French, your child’s motivation levels could dwindle.
The good news is, you don’t have to book a trip to Paris to keep your child’s interest level high. One of the most effective and affordable ways to keep your child engaged in learning French is to help him or her find a French television show they are interested in.
To do this, you can browse French cable networks or even get a Netflix subscription where you can access a number of French TV shows you have never even heard of!
To give you a headstart, here is a list of 12 shows in French that can help your grade school French immersion child. Planning a movie night? Check out our article listing French Films for Kids.
You can also look for an English show or movie that they would like to watch (or re-watch) – but search for the French version instead. French versions of English movies and shows are readily available on Netflix and on DVD at your local store or library.
Once you have found a show that your child will enjoy, feel free to cozy up with him or her, put on the subtitles and enjoy this fun, new activity together. For once, it’s okay to binge watch!
Tip #3: Subscribe to a “Word of the Day” Newsletter
We all know that it’s vital to expand your working vocabulary when learning a new language. But learning long lists of new vocabulary can be dry. So how can you help put the fun back in learning new words?
In our past blog, 5 Tips To Support Your Child When You Don’t Speak French, we talked about using Flash Cards with your child. It’s a great way to engage your child in the process of learning new words.
One other way to do this is to subscribe to a “Word of the Day” newsletter like you find on Frenchpod101 or Transparent Language. You can also follow Talk in French on Instagram and get a French word of the day directly to your newsfeed. Each day, you will receive a new French word in your inbox. At the end of the school day, make it a fun routine to share this word with your child and be sure to ask him or her to use it in a phrase. It is far easier to remember words in context than simply trying to memorize their definitions.
To help improve the memorization of the new word, ask your child to create a sentence using both yesterday’s word of the day along with today’s. This means that by Friday, they will have learned 5 new words and used them in 2 to 3 sentences each!
Tip #4: Participate in Fun French Events With Your Child
In part 1 of this series, we talked about enrolling your child in French activities in the summer like our French Day Camps, French excursions and activities at your local library, the ROM and the Ontario Science Centre.
But you don’t have to wait until the summer to integrate fun French activities into your child’s schedule. There are plenty of French activities and events your child can participate in year-round. Check out our Pinterest board for our list of top French activities in the GTA.
In fact, Camp Tournesol offers convenient French tele-tutoring throughout the year designed to help your child practice French outside of the classroom.
And if there are no French events in your area in the near future, go ahead and organize your own! You can host a France-themed party in your home for a few of your child’s French Immersion schoolmates. You can serve traditional French pastries, put on French music and of course, enforce a full-fledged French speaking policy for the duration of the event.
Tip #5: Find Child-Friendly Language-Learning Software
With a number of language-learning software and apps now available, you can get immersed in French with your child using your computer, tablet or smartphone. A few parent-approved favorites are Duolingo, Early Lingo and Gus on the Go. And if you want to further integrate French into technology, we recommend switching the language settings of your child’s Smartphone to French. This is especially impactful if your child has a Siri-enabled iPhone so he or she can hear “her” speak in French!
Did you find these tips helpful?
Are there any additional things you do to support your FI child? Please share them with the Camp Tournesol community in the comments below!
And if you know any English-speaking parents of FI students who could benefit from these tips, Tweet: Do you have a child in FI but you don’t speak French? Read this: http://ctt.ec/XRp1G+