Have you ever wondered why your child needs to learn a language? I do, as a mother and as an educator. Here is where this questioning has taken me. I see the language as a medium to relate to others and as such it embodies not only the sounds, the words and the grammar, but a different way to perceive and feel the world around us. Or, in the words of Charlemagne “to have another language is to possess a second soul”. By speaking a foreign language we are able to connect, to discover the stories, to understand the hopes and the little things that make people different from us. Learning to communicate in foreign language is opening the door for belonging to different community. In a sense, “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that, goes to his heart” (Nelson Mandela). Here is how for me, language learning is all about growing in empathy and love for humanity. The many faces of learning a language are merging in the image of communion.
Have you asked yourself how French is learned in class? The answer is that there is not one way. Many ways are needed because of the multifaceted nature of the language itself and the nature of the learner…I will share here some of the ways the students are learning French in class.
First graders enjoy singing the songs L’arc en ciel, Les trois singes, Je vais en voiture, Regardons les animaux, Je mets mon chapeaux, Le soleil se lève. They listen and work on the stories : L’ours des couleurs, Le chat et le poisson, Un géant très chic, Des couleurs partout. However, the most of interest is given to play the games: Je vais en…, Le canard, Cache-cache, Jeu du sac, Jeu de mémoire, Où sont les animaux?, etc.They like to discover changes in their environment and to name them in French.
Les transports, Cara Les sports d’hiver, Charlotte L’ours qui rêve, Victoria
Second graders have been immersed in French speaking environment through songs, stories, short role plays, choral speaking and games. The majority of the students started responding individually and acting short sketches in French. The students built and presented the play « L’ours des couleurs » and the dance “Sur le pont d’Avignon”. They like dancing and singing in French.
Regardons les animaux L’ours qui rêve, Madeleine L’arc-en-ciel, Sophie
Third graders are working on stories, songs, games, sketches and picture dictations. All students worked hard on collecting “Kindness stones”. They collaborated together and worked well in French. When the “Kindness bucket” was full, the students had a Kindness piñata party. They like sharing their work in French at the end of each class.
Les beignes, Chiara Les vêtements d’hiver, Daryna Kindness Piñata
This year the fourth graders were introduced to writing and reading in French. Also the students practice their oral skills in French through sketches, vocabulary games and short presentations. The topics that they enjoy the most are the money, shopping, Noël, vacations, sports, and the dialogues (ask for permission, accept, refuse, introduce oneself, and express likes/dislikes). The students built a book about “L’ours qui rêve”. They like practicing with puppets.
The book “L’ours qui rêve”, Phoebe Les voyelles, Aurora Bon appétit, William
Fifth graders work on vocabulary topics that they like such as airplanes, transportation, sports, etc. Parallel to these topics, they are exposed to different grammar concepts like present tense verbs, article/adjective/noun agreement, singular-plural nouns, etc. In order to practice the vocabulary, many vocabulary games are played. They have special interest in practicing and presenting simple dialogues. They like working well in French and moving up in their mainclass rainbow chart.
Voyager, Juliana En hiver, Matei
Sixth graders started to communicate in French orally and in writing about everyday situations and to demonstrate a basic understanding of French spelling, pronunciation, and grammar. The students are learning the present tense of regular and irregular verbs, article/adjective/noun agreement, singular/plural nouns, reflective verbs, etc. Special attention is brought to the practice in different contexts of the vocabulary and the grammatical concepts. In familiar situations, the students started to make and to respond to questions in French. They practiced speaking about themselves and the environment, the daily routine, and giving examples from a text. They like to apply themselves, to help each one, to participate and to present in French.
Ariana, Fiona, and Owen from Grade 6 present “Une journée typique” using their own words
Seven graders showed steady improvement this year. They started to respond to simple questions to a text, tell a small portion of a story in their own words, identify the first and third groups of verbs in present tense, formulate verbal expressions with infinitive, use reflexive verbs, understand the grammatical terminology involved, speak shortly about themselves and the environment on familiar topics. They worked on introducing oneself, describing people, the daily routine and the story of “Le chat avec sept maisons”. They like to present their work in French and are not afraid to make mistakes in order to practice in the target language.
Camryn asks questions that she wrote down and Thomas answers
Alexandra asks trickiest questions and Seth answers spontaneously
Eight graders worked hard the first term. Since then, they have been reinforcing basic vocabulary and grammatical skills in order to communicate within specific situations. The students have been working on the four components of language: listening, speaking, reading and writing. They practice hard on conjugating the present tense of regular and irregular verbs, learning the future close tense and the verbal expressions with infinitive. During the last term they will be introduced to the past tenses. The majority of the students have started to express themselves clearly in simple sentences in a range of everyday situations (introduce themselves, talk about family, talk about likes/dislikes, talk about future plans, talk about daily routine, asking for directions, etc.). Also they work on asking and answering questions, telling a small portion of a story in their own words, and composing short pieces of writing of their own with reasonable accuracy. They like to practice in groups.
Alice describes a person Aysha writes about her plans
Saba describes a person Iliana writes about her March break
LEARN FRENCH THE EASY WAY Tips for students of all grades:
French camps in Toronto:
Camp Tournesol: http://www.camptournesol.ca/
Camp d’été en Français offered by University Toronto Mississauga
Summer camps offered by Lycée Français de Toronto
Public Library offering good choice of books in French for children:
36 Brentwood Rd N, Etobicoke, ON M8X 2B5
French Teacher, Waldorf Academy