Tuesday, July 18, 2006

more resources from the French teachers' convention

Here are some other resources worth mentioning that I learned about (or was reminded of) at the AATF convention this month:

Concordia Language Villages (throughout Minnesota) are amazing: they are summer immersion camps for 14 different languages for kids through 12th grade. In high school, I attended Sjolunden, the Swedish village, for two weeks, and Lac du Bois, the French village, for a month (and then got credit for French 2 because it's so intensive). They recreate the country where the language is spoken, right down to exchanging your money for the other country's currency, feeding you food typical of that place, and taking away reading material in English when you go through "customs." All the activities, from sports and meals, are centered on exposing the campers to the target language and teaching them about the target culture(s), and there are formal language classes several times a day as well. It's all extremely interactive and high energy with great communicative activities. (Plus I can still sing songs from both camps 15+ years later!) I would recommend these camps to any child learning any language they offer (from Spanish to Arabic and Korean), even if the child is a complete beginner. (And last year, one of my former students worked as a counselor at Lac du Bois! I was thrilled.)

L'Académie des Enfants, a French preschool in Chicago modeled after France's École Maternelle, also offering classes for older students at The French Institute of the North Shore (the director of this school gave the presentation on comptines that I mentioned earlier.) I would love to teach at a place like these! (Of course, they only hire native speakers.) Take a look at the sorts of classes they offer (and their rationales).

I also attended a presentation by Muriel Vergnaud, a singer, musician, and teacher of French to children. A native speaker, she has written many songs to introduce kids to French vocabulary and ideas, and each song that she showed us has actions that accompany it (moving to different colored panels on a parachute, for example, or using handmade sock puppets). Her songs are also easily modified to target other themes and age groups. You can visit her website to hear some of her songs, read about LYS, her multi-arts French program for young children, and see her philosophy about working with children and music.

Finally, here are a few publishers whose materials I admired; many of these sites have online catalogs you can browse:

World of Reading, with lots of books and CDs in many foreign languages (and also ESL) for children.

Pierre Books, where I found the textbook ABC Pour Commencer that I mentioned in a previous post; they specialize in French and Spanish.

Scholastic Books (Canada): Remember the book orders that we'd get in elementary school? Here are those types of books in French!

Tralco-Lingo Fun, more materials in French.

The French Workshop offers mostly non-book materials (tours of Paris on CD-ROM, vocab CD-ROMsreproducible workbooks about holidays and grammar review and so forth, bulletin board designs, simple workbooks about French culture, photo cards, and more).

And finally, the official website for Tatou le Matou, a textbook series for young children learning French (but, according to the exhibitor, for kids older than those who would use ABC Pour Commencer, which I bought to use with Carl when he's a toddler). I haven't examined these materials closely, but what I saw looked thorough and impressive.

If you have questions, ideas, or other sources (books, camps, schools) that you recommend, please share them by clicking on "post a comment!"


  1. One more resource that I just discovered:

    Carlex (http://www.carlexonline.com/intro.asp) has materials in French and Spanish, including games.

  2. And another online company with a big selection of materials in French, including LeapPad: Mastermind Toys http://www.mastermindtoys.com/store/category.asp?cat=28&page=1&MSCSProfile=NN2LKS7QFEA69NS09JAUHD32M60DE21E