Wednesday, October 15, 2014

big news!

(No, my sillies, I'm not pregnant again!)

I think these wheels of cheese are larger than my three-year-old daughter.
(Farmers market, Riquewihr, France, August 2014)
After years of speaking French to my children and nephew, teaching university-level French classes, giving private French lessons to individual kids, and offering free library storytimes in French, I'm finally diving in and co-teaching my first class in French for children ages 0-5!!!

My friend Carol of A French American Life had the cojones to approach the manager of Grandrabbit's Play, an indoor play space in Boulder, and ask them if they were interested in adding French to their current offerings of music and yoga classes.  They said oui, we wrote up a proposal, had an interview, and so we start next week!

Here's the blurb:

Come play in French with us! Our classes will engage you and your child in a fun, low-stress language immersion experience. Via songs, books, games, and crafts, you and your child will be encouraged to understand and speak French from day one. The instructors, who use French nearly 100% of the time in class, use context, repetition, props, images, gestures, and tone of voice to make the meaning clear: in other words, the way that children acquire their first language! No previous exposure to French is required.   

Doesn't that sound fun?  I would totally bring my kids to this class if they didn't already speak French.  (Actually, I will be bringing Gwyneth, since she's not in preschool those mornings.)

Promotion: if you happen to be from around here and sign up for a class this Friday, October 17, you will also receive a month of free open play at the facility (a $39 value).

Wish us luck!  Any advice?


  1. Hi, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award which is for blogs that have less than 200 followers and have great potential and content. Here are the instructions:
    Liebster Award Nomination


    1. Thank you very much for nominating me, Janice! I'm flattered that you thought of my blog and shared it with your followers. I also enjoyed browsing your blog--you seem like a very creative and organized teacher. Your students are lucky to have you!

  2. I wish you luck! Gwyneth will be a great assistant and a good model for other kids! I'm trying to organize a Spanish playgroup for bilingual families at the moment inspired in your French story time posts. Hope to be successful too!

    1. Buena suerte, Joselyn! I'm sure that your playgroup will be a success, given your Spanish teaching and parenting experience. Let me know how it goes! (My Spanish isn't strong enough to understand all the details in your blog posts.)

  3. Hey there, would this be suitable for kids of French/English bilingual homes or more beginners in French? Very interested in this, although longing for something like this and/or French immersion preschool options in the Denver area..

    1. Carol and I both bring our bilingual kiddos (ages 2 and 3) to class with us, and I really am trying to do "differentiated instruction," where my input to those two is more complex than what I say to the other kids, and I ask a lot more of Gwyneth than I do of the others. While the class is designed for new learners, the fact that it's half an hour of immersion with lots of books and songs means that it's still valuable for kids who hear French at home already. (At least I think so!)

      Otherwise, in the greater Denver area….

      The Alliance Francaise of Denver does offer classes for children, but targeting non-native speakers. On the other hand, you can hire a private tutor from them to develop your own "class."

      Global Village Academy's campuses in Aurora and Fort Collins (a public charter elementary school) offer French immersion; the FC campus also has a French preschool. (Maybe Aurora does too?)

      And, finally, I have seen ads for an in-home French immersion preschool in Aurora in the AF newsletter, and a woman in Boulder is hoping to open a French preschool here in the next year.

      So, in other words, no easy options! How far do you live from Lafayette? I can let you know when we start offering French storytimes at the public library here, at least.

  4. I live in the SF Bay Area and started teaching children's French classes this summer, mainly for the benefit of my 5, 3, and 1 year old daughters, who just began learning French 6 months ago.
    Some successful activity ideas, which you (or anyone else reading) can borrow:
    - Transport charades (I say "train, bateau, voiture, avion) and the kids must act out what they hear)
    - Body Part Twister (I say "la tête sur bleu!" and the kids must put their heads on a blue spot)
    - Simon Says with active verbs- this is good for getting the kids to talk and I found a microphone or plastic megaphone encourages this even more ("Courez!" "Ne sautez pas!")

    Songs we like: "Soyons Amis" and "J'ai faim, j'ai soif" by Alain Le Lait, "Vent frais," "Meunier, tu dors" and pretty much anything with simple lyrics.

    Thanks so much for your blog, Sarah! IAs a non-native French speaker myself, I have really been inspired by your story and empowered by all the resources you have shared. Really wishing I had started sooner with my own kids!

    1. Wow! Thanks, Jana. I'd love to hear more about your classes--venue, kids' age range, how you publicize/recruit, how involved the parents get, etc. Also, since you have only (relatively) recently begun using French with your family, I'm curious about your approach and how the transition has been for your daughters--I'm guessing that the one-year-old is having the easiest time adjusting!

      I love your ideas! "Body Parts Twister" would have been ideal for our class, because our vocabulary theme throughout was actually facial features and body parts. I'm going to add it to my bag of tricks (and my Pinterest board about the class)!

      Using a megaphone for "Simon Says" is another trick I'd like to try--I have learned that any type of "gimmick" that surprises kids or gets their attention is a good tool. (Oh, and you may know this already, but I believe that the French version of this game is called "Jacques a dit.")

      Isn't Alain Le Lait a hoot? His songs are so upbeat and funny and great for teaching without being deliberately educational. We used "Des os, il en faut" as one of our songs to dance to in the class.

      Other games that have been successful in French include "Quelle heure est-il, Monsieur Loup," which Carol modified from a common swimming lesson activity, and "Feu Rouge, Feu Vert" when teaching two contrasting expressions. (Instead of "red light" and "green light," I might call out "au revoir" and "bonjour," for example.)

      Thanks for your comment, and keep in touch!

  5. Thanks Sarah! My classes are pretty small even though I don't charge much. I advertise with flyers in local restaurants, local parenting e-mail circles, a Facebook page, and homeschool groups.
    I found Alain le Lait thanks to your resource page, I think I like his music more than the kids do!
    Teaching my own kids is going rather slowly. My 5-year old is not excited about learning at all, which makes sense- she has no need to speak French with anyone she knows (we know a few French people but they all speak English well). The girls are doing much more passive understanding than speaking. I figure we will just keep at it, and some French is better than none!
    Thanks again for your blog.