|No, not that kind of slide. That's the fun kind!
However, a boy whom I have known for years now told me something that delighted me: he decided to take French in middle school because of me! So now whenever he sees me around the library or the neighborhood, he greets me with a "Bonjour" and a "Ca va," and he even makes an effort to speak French to Griffin, too. At the Homework Center this past school year, we reviewed vocabulary and played games and did worksheets in French together.
|We even played a few games in French on my iPad!
And since getting a solid understanding of the basics the first year or so of language learning--as well as developing confidence and a genuine interest in the language--is so crucial to your success if you're hoping to continue with it, I want to help my young friend and all other language students find ways to have fun with it and keep practicing over the summer!
|Griffin on his last day of preschool
So as long as I'm preparing a list for my favorite middle school French student, I may as well share it here on the blog. Your suggestions, ideas, and questions, as always, are very welcome! This post will provide some general advice for children (or adults!) learning any language but on vacation for a few months; my next post will offer specific resources for young students of French.
|What, you're not here either?
- Hire a nanny or au pair who is a native speaker who will live with you and interact with the whole family in the target language for the summer
- Engage a private tutor who can spend an hour or two a day with your children
- Travel to a country where the language is spoken and sign your children up for summer camps, music lessons, and similar activities
- Send your children to the Concordia Language Villages (Minnesota) or Middlebury College (Vermont), where they can attend residential immersion camps (or day camps) in over a dozen languages; Concordia even offers camps and classes for the entire family!
|campers at Concordia's Russian village
- Sign your children up for day camps in the language (such as this one at a private school near us in Boulder or these at the Denver International School).
- Sign your children up for classes that meet weekly during the summer (such as this one offered at a children's museum in Lafayette or these at the Alliance Francaise in Denver).
- Take your children to language-specific storytimes at libraries (such as these ones in French in Boulder County or this onehttp://www.francedc.org/events/?id=71 at the Alliance Francaise in Washington, DC).
- Host an exchange student who speaks the language.
|For example, the Alliance Francaise in Denver offers art classes for kids in French!
- Play games in the language on a computer, tablet, or smart phone (such as these apps for games and interactive books in French).
- Modify games that you already know or own so that they are in the target language (such as writing a letter of the alphabet on each square of Chutes and Ladders, prompting the players to say a word that begins with that letter; hangman; Go Fish).
- Read and reread a little every day--the stories and articles and dialogues from your textbook, song lyrics, kids' books, comic strips.
- Watch videos (songs, cartoons, movie clips) in the language on YouTube, especially those with the words onscreen (such as these easy tunes in French).
- Watch familiar movies with the soundtrack and/or subtitles in the target language.
- Borrow language-learning videos from the library and see if any of them appeal to you; it's probably not worth purchasing them unless the child is fairly young and will tolerate multiple viewings that don't bring anything new.
- Borrow language-learning CDs, DVDs, and books from the library; purchase the one you like best to listen to in the car and at bedtime.
- Try out Rosetta Stone or Mango Languages software.
|one of my Pinterest playlists of French music videos
If your children are at an intermediate or advanced level, encourage them to do all of the above, plus:
- Write letters or emails to teachers, classmates, friends, or family in other countries, then read their replies.
- Try to find a new kid "keypal" (email penpal) who speaks the language!
- Sign up with LiveMocha to do conversational language exchanges online for free.
- Watch unfamiliar movies and television shows in the target language, with or without English subtitles, depending on the student's level.
- Stream radio stations, news reports, and podcasts to develop listening comprehension skills (we like Radio Ouistiti for French).
|the LiveMocha logo
- Read, read, read, and then read some more!
- Read books for children and magazines for adults and simplified stories for students and short stories and plays and essays and newspapers and restaurant menus and comic strips.
- Reread the stories and articles and dialogues from your textbook.
- Read the French translation of a favorite, familiar book in English.
- Listen to a story online and read along with the words.
- Read lyrics while listening to music.
- Read websites on any topic that interests you (skateboarding? politics? art? Justin Bieber?) and online newspapers and blogs.
- Then reread the ones you liked best--you'll always understand more and read more fluently on subsequent readings.
Moreover, to increase familiarity with and interest in the cultures and countries where the language is spoken, your child could:
- Read books in English (fiction and nonfiction) about or set in the country.
- Watch movies in English that take place in the country.
- Watch documentaries and travel shows in English about the country (check your public library and Netflix's streaming service).
- Visit websites about the country, its history, its art and architecture, and other cultural aspects.
- Read cookbooks focusing on the country and then prepare some traditional foods.
- Interview (or simply chat with) people who have visited or lived in the country.
- Take virtual tours of museums and cities via websites and apps.
- Research a singer or musical group in a genre that interests you--find out how they got famous, what characterizes their music, which songs they are best known for, what the critics have to say, and which other musical acts are similar.
- Using travel guides from the library and online research, plan your dream trip--what places would you visit and why? What would you do there? What would you eat? Where would you stay?
- Go on a virtual shopping spree via websites for department stores, supermarkets, and other shops in the country--decorate your dorm room, update your wardrobe, buy a scooter, furnish your home, do the grocery shopping for a fancy party.
So what are you waiting for! School starts back up soon--don't let yourself lose more of that language!