I’ve spoken before about how the Michel Thomas method really helped me get a grip on learning French. Well I suddenly realised the other day that I’d started to use the same method to teach my daughter.
Start Off With A Sentence
It all started with her swimming lessons. As I knew she would be doing the same thing, on the same day I came up with a sentence to talk about it;
Ruby va nager à la piscine jeudi après midi avec Rory.
Each part of the sentence was introduced separately with its English equivilant;
Ruby va Ruby goes
nager to swim
à la piscine at the swimming pool
jeudi après midi Thursday after noon
avec Rory with Rory
At first she wouldn’t say the French, but she started to join in when I kept repeating it. So, for example, I’d ask in English what was she going to be doing tomorrow and then introduce the sentence. Gradually she started to tell me what each part meant in English, then to say it in French.
Build It Into Other Sentences
Once she had the hang of this phrase I used some of the same vocabulary and structure and added in new ones to create new activities. For example;
Jeudi matin Ruby va à l’école maternelle. Puis Ruby va nager à la piscine jeudi après midi avec Rory.
Lundi matin Ruby va à l’école maternelle toute la journée.
Dimanche Ruby va à l’église avec sa famille.
At the moment I’m just gradually introducing weekday activities, but when this is clear I’m going to start to use the same method to introduce things like daily routines.
If You Want To, Encourage Literacy By Using Your Fridge As a Whiteboard
As you build up your sentences verbally you can start to do so visually as well. I have a laminator as well as a printer, but you could just use card and a marker pen.
- Make a note of the key words your using and print them out on a sheet of paper. Laminate the words if you can. Store the words in a box of some kind.
- The night before any activity pick the key words together to build the sentences for the following day. At first your little one will need lots of help identifying the words, but over time they should be able to recognise them more and more easily. On a kitchen table or the floor organise the words to make the sentence; then with blue tack stick them to the fridge. This helps them to process the sentences in different ways and therefore imbed them more.
- The next morning when you come down see if your child can read the sentence of the day’s activity themselves, offering help only when necessary.
This is a ‘see and say’ method of learning to read as opposed to phonetically. However I think that as their learning a second language, and therefore not as assured, this is an appropriate method of teaching them.
I use the gap between the night before and the morning to allow what is being learnt to be assimilated overnight and then confirmed the next day. Also by doing the activity the day before you have more time than when your in a rush to actually go out the door to whatever activity you’re doing. Of course I do it with my daughter when she’s a little rested from whatever she’s been doing that day – say, when she’s got in from preschool and had a chance to settle down – but some time before she’s tired again just before bed.
You can even take the opportunity to encourage their writing skills by using a typeface that allows some practise.
In my attached photo you can see I’ve accidentally left off the additional ‘sa’ for her sister. That’s fine – we discussed how in fench you’d always need this and I’m going to print another one to use in future. The point is to start learning, not that we’re perfect. We can become so focused in trying to master a foreign language that we Waite to use it until we’re at an expert level. Actually though the most important thing is to use it constantly and learn through any corrections you need to make later – I often remember things better through getting them wrong anyway!
If you’ve been teaching your little ones another language, any language, it would be great to hear from you. Catherine Berry from But You Are In France, Madame blog recently contacted me and, as a result, contributed a wonderful post here if you want to take a look. In the meantime – on y vas!