Le Marie and I have spent the last few days, with the help of friends, moving all of our things into our new French home. If the utilities are connected we think we’ll spend our first night in our new home tomorrow – I’m so excited. In the meantime I thought I’d take some time to tell you how La Belle Fille is doing in school.
When we first started to talk about moving out of our friends gite into our new home she was very apprehensive – she seemed to just stop talking French in school! It’s understandable considering she’s just five and her experience of moving has been to a different country.
Gradually, as we’ve talked more and more about the process and I’ve driven her to and from the house to her school to demonstrate its not that far she’s coming to understand that this time not everything will change. She’ll be able to stay close to her friends, in her school, near her grandparents – the world will not shift again!
As she’s realised this her speaking in French has increased once more. The other day she brought home a little note to say she’s spoken 50 French words in one day. Then I spoke with her teacher and had a really pleasant surprise.
I had started to teach La Belle Fille to read when she was about 2 1/2 years old. I used lots of Alphablocks episodes so she could identify how to spell basic cvc (consanant, vowel, consanant) words. However when we started to read together it became obvious that a good number of the most frequently used words are irregularly sounded and this can make it difficult to read a story unless you have a book written with that in mind. However, when you have those kind of book there is the additional problem that the restriction of such words means that there isn’t a real story, so for La Belle they held little interest.
So from the base of phonetics I moved onto the see and say method; remember Peter and Jane books? That’s see and say. It’s the repetition over and over of the most frequently used words so that they’re learnt by site. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, personally I think it’s best to use both as far as they’re successful and then swap to the other when ea hot loses their utility.
By the time we moved here La Belle had very good reading skills. By that I mean she reads word dense books with intonation, sounding out new words until she has them right. As a result I’d started to teach her to read in French whilst Le Marie continued to read in English. My accent isn’t great, but I’m not too bad at pronunciation and I think that it’s best to do something rather than nothing because it’s not perfect.
This seems to have payed off! When I dropped La Belle off at school the other day Madame La Professeure asked me if she could move her up a reading group – La Belle’s class is composed of two age groups, hers and the year above. So she now reads with the year above!
When I asked Madame if this was just for English she said that no, this was for her reading in French. I was thrilled. I’d noticed more and more that she had started to read to her self in the French, but as she’s tends to hide what she’s doing until she’s confident in it I had been unable to ascertain just where she was.
She’s also started to imitate her French peers – her accent is perfect! “Oh maman, ce n’est pas juste” she’ll declare. I know that by the end of this academic year she’ll be correcting me left, right and centre!