With the summer break fast approaching, parents become increasingly concerned that their children will have diminished French speaking ability by the time September rolls back around.
Language practice is like a muscle – it needs consistent attention in order for it to strengthen and grow.
But how do you help your child practice their French with no French teacher in sight?
It’s true that it is always more challenging for children who live in non-French speaking households, to maintain their French fluency over long summer months spent outside of the classroom. As a French-speaking parent living in a bilingual household and owner of a French camp, I am often asked things like: What can I do to help my child maintain their French? How can I make sure my child doesn’t fall behind? How can I still make it fun?
These are all reasonable concerns… But have no fear! We have all of the answers for you! After consulting with our senior teaching staff, we have come up with a short list of advice and recommendations that will have the best impact on your child’s French fluency over the summer months (in no particular order):
1. Keep them reading!
Reading is, and always has been, one of the best ways for children to maintain their essential basic vocabulary skills. And with French, it is no different! Several libraries have French resources as well as French programs for children suring the summer. Check with your local one to see what they can offer. As well, some bookstores like Indigo and Chapters will sometimes carry French-language books! But for more variety, there are web sites where you can purchase interesting and exciting books for all age groups and reading levels. It’s simple and easy! Some great websites for purchasing French-language books include:
2. Promote French entertainment!
Do your kids like watching TV? Movies? Playing online? Of course they do! Well, that can be a useful tool in preserving their French-language speaking skills, too! Watching TV shows, films, or use the Internet in French, or even watch English TV with French-language subtitles is a great way for your child to subconsciously practice and think about the French language. When they are engaged in one of their favourite TV shows, they may not focus on the French language, but they will hear the words. A great tip to try is to choose movies or shows that your child loves and watch them in French with them! If they already enjoy the content, they could be more inclined to watch it in French. It is also helpful for you to encourage your child to pause the program and ask themselves questions to ensure they understand the story line. This way, they can learn as they watch. It could also be educational for you if you’re interested in learning more French! It is a win/win! Your children will notice that you are interested in them learning a new language and it will motivate them. You can browse the selection of French-language TV programs at the TFO website: http://www3.tfo.org/ or http://ici.radio-canada.ca/jeunesse/ . There are also several websites where your children can watch interactive videos, color, and listen to music, rhymes, and audio books. Web sites are just as important as TV shows and movies, not only because the Internet is a growing phenomenon, but also because it can give your child more opportunities to engage and get interactive with their French-language skills! Some examples of good ‘French Fun’ web sites include:
3. Invite friends over for ‘French’ play dates!
Another great way to help your child preserve their French-language speaking skills over the summer months is to encourage and organize ‘French’ play dates with other children who are learning the language. If you invite friends who also speak French or are learning it, they can practice the language together, and make it fun! To push it even further, you could have them listen to some French music during their play date (some great artists include Carmen Campagne, Annie Brocoli, Amel Bent) and see if you can print off some lyrics for them to sing along. Even if the music is just playing in the background, it adds to the atmosphere and creates an opportunity for your child to hear the French language in an artistic way. If you’re feeling fancy, treat the kids to some crèpes to show your French spirit!
4. And of course… Sign them up for French camp!
This one is obvious, and you know where to look for a great French camp! 😉
The importance of socializing in French cannot be over-emphasized… If your child never gets a chance to practice their French in a social setting, they are less likely to feel the need to use it outside of school, which can result in the loss of their French-language speaking skills. For a child, the realization that they can play and have fun in French will most definitely enhance the experience of learning a new language and could increase the chances of them wanting to pursue the language further as they mature. If your child is feeling extra adventurous, there are plenty of camps offered in the wonderful province of Quebec! The center of Canada’s French language culture! Check out http://camps.qc.ca/fr/parents-et-enfants/accueil for a full list.
Of course, Camp Tournesol offers plenty of programs here in Ontario (including out-of-province overnights trips to Montreal, Quebec and France) to keep your children prepared and practicing! We have fun day camps for children aged 4 to 14 as well as short and out of province trips for children in grades 3 to 9. They come to have fun and use their French in a social setting, what could be better!
For lists and descriptions of the programs we offer, check out our website: www.campt.ca or call our offices at 905-891-1889!
Have Fun in French this summer! 🙂
Written by: Martine Brouillet
About Martine: Driven to make an impact in second-language learner children in their quest to become bilingual, Martine Brouillet founded Camp Tournesol in 2001 in Ontario, Canada. The company’s flagship French camps have since become leaders in this market, welcoming tens of thousands of children and spawning sister products servicing these families such as the Brouillet French Academy. Her passion and concern for the environment inspired her to create a new brand of eco-friendly camps, workshops, and summits: Love My Plant. To learn more about Camp Tournesol, visit www.campt.ca
Contact Martine Brouillet at firstname.lastname@example.org | 905-891-1889