Thanks for posting these new videos. My oldest will flat-out refuse to watch anything in French if I offer beforehand, but I just turned one of them on and she gravitated to it!On a teaching note, do you ever get discouraged with how little French you can actually teach a kids in a weekly class? I've suggested all sorts of online resources you have posted here, and it seems the parents rarely remember to play any of it for them. I've been doing classes for over a year now with some of the same students, and all they've really learned is some animals, the colors, the alphabet, counting to 12, and some songs. And even these they are better at recognizing when they hear it than being able to produce the word when asked. Le sigh... I guess this is just the way it is!
I know, right?! Here are my thoughts/questions about that:1. How long are your classes? Mine are 30 minutes for the kids under five, which doesn't feel like enough to make a difference. But keeping toddlers engaged for longer than that is a real challenge.2. I wish I could assign "homework" to the parents--half an hour of French time at home each day with their kiddo! It could be as simple as listening to the songs and comptines we use in class when they're driving around or at bedtime, or plopping the child in front of YouTube to watch the videos while the parent is prepping dinner. The parent doesn't even have to know French to do that!But then, we parents of littles have soooo many demands on our time that asking to consistently squeeze in another 30 minutes is too much. Just remembering to do it can feel stressful, and then when we skip it we feel guilty.Ooooh, what about offering a discount in each week's class cost if the parent makes the effort to play the class CD every day? (Don't know how to prove/enforce that, though.) Money's always a good motivator, though!3. The fact that you have had some of the same students for 12+ months means that you're doing a great job and that the parents find value in it, even if the kids can't produce much French on their own.4. And think of how long it takes before we can speak our native language comprehensibly! 18+ months of immersion during every waking moment…. To expect much from one class a week with children this young is unreasonable.5. But it's still frustrating for us teachers who want to see the children progress more quickly!6. We just need to remember that during these classes, we're also showing the kids that other languages and countries exist, that it's fun to play and sing and listen and interact in those languages, and that they're absorbing tons (language, non-verbal cues, socializing, rule following, etc.).Bon courage!
All good points. My classes are 45 minutes, and I have mostly 3 and 4 year olds, with a few 6 year olds in there. I usually do 20 min of vocabulary games (like last time, I wrapped a bunch of toy animals in layers of wrapping paper and we learned the French word for each one as they were unwrapped, hot-potato style), 15 min of singing, and 10 min of a writing or drawing activity. I used to have a cheap prize box and let the kids pick a prize if they did the "homework," an assigned YouTube video that they had to answer a question about. Perhaps I should bring that back... I only charge $5 per class, so I don't want to offer a discount. (I would do the class for free, but from experience, I've noticed people become flaky and extra demanding for some reason!) Thanks for replying. Your blog is so inspiring!
I love your wrapping paper-hot potato idea! I'm planning to steal it for my next vocab lesson this week.The prize box for "homework" sounds like a great technique too. I give out French stickers at the end of class, but maybe bribing them with additional stickers for "homework" would be beneficial. Or making a chart for the parent to take home and put on the fridge, adding a sticker for each time they do something in French, and when they achieve a certain number they can pick out a prize. (I have saved some French books that my kiddos have outgrown that I could use for this!)$5 per class is extremely reasonable! Those kids' parents are lucky to have found you! I know what you mean about the dangers of offering activities for free; the Reading Buddies program I run at the library is free for all participants, and some families devalue it because of that. Since they didn't pay anything to enroll their child, they seem to feel like they can skip it without wasting any money when something more attractive comes along (classmate's birthday party, playdate, soccer practice) or in bad weather.
I've done French lessons for free before, and I won't again. I would get cancellation calls when I was on the bus to the meeting place (or no call at all!) The hot-potato game is great fun. I've also done steal-the-bacon with clothes vocabulary, and actual tiny clothes from my 2 year old that they have to grab (this is also good number practice), the classic flyswatter picture vocabulary game (be the first to tap the correct picture), farm animal bingo with Goldfish cracker markers, and the ever-popular Jacques-a-dit. I've gotten so much inspiration from your blog! Thanks again for the effort you put into it.
Thanks, Jana! But now I have to ask: what is "steal-the-bacon"?!Other activities that have worked well for me include singing and dancing to "Sur le pont d'Avignon," changing up the verses to reflect whatever we're studying (speaking of farm animals: "les vaches font comme ça, meuuuh…"); playing "What time is it, Mr. Shark?" and "Red Light, Green Light" in French; and playing with Mr. Potato Head (body parts, facial features, colors).