One thing that has been helping the kids with their French a lot is individual lessons with a native speaker. We tried finding people locally, but it just didn’t seem to work out. Then we tried italki.com and we’ve found some really great teachers that way. It has helped the kids a ton, they are so much more willing to speak and they are really learning the language. One of our teachers lives an hour away, and she has started coming to help us all for a couple hours each week.
It turns out that we can really only keep attention and focus for about 1 hour. But it has worked really well because she brought a game with a bunch of French expressions we get to learn and a bunch little stories that use a bunch of words that sound exactly the same when spoken but are written very differently. It has been a challenge.
Here is one example:
“Avez-vous déjà vu un ver allant vers un verre en verre vert a l’envers” –
which means: Have you ever seen a worm going to a glass of green glass that is upside down?
Here’s a video of it so you can hear it:
She also read us a story and stopped after each paragraph to have us explain what happened or to answer a question about what happened. And then we ended with Dictées which would be translated as dictations. But they are super important to do in French because there are many words that sound exactly the same, but are spelled and used very differently as you can see in the example above!
Another obvious example is the difference between c’est (it is) and ces (that). They are pronounced exactly the same, but should not be confused when writing. The kids have had some good laughs with my mishearing during the dictées- they all went to school so they knew what a virgule was— it’s a comma and yes I tried to spell it and include it in my dictée. Today instead of hearing “certain “ I heard serpent!
So if you are taking lessons or learning on your own or with your kids, look up dictées and be sure to include them in your lessons- Here are some good ones I just found and will be doing with my kids:
It’s a learning process and fun to see the kids improve so much. I’m glad we’ve found some good resources and teachers!
But remember, even learning a few words can make a huge difference to someone. There is nothing like hearing your own tongue especially after being surrounded by foreign sounds for awhile, and people really appreciate your trying. Being able to speak with someone in their native tongue is a very cool connection – even if you are only able to say a few things!
What have you found that was surprising to you in how something is said in French?