Rainy River District School Board

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Ways to Help

38 Ways for parents to help their children succeed in French

  • Let your children know you value the learning of French for many reasons: it is a prominent world language; develops cognitive growth; and offers better understanding of first languages; offers cultural richness; increases job and travel opportunities; and offers opportunities to meet new friends.
  • Let your children know that you care about their progress in school and that you are proud of their ability to speak French.
  • Create open, regular lines of communication with your children's teachers and share your enthusiasm about the teaching and learning of French.
  • Celebrate success! Hang up artwork and projects. Celebrate great test results!
  • Ask your children what they learned in French class and what they liked the most.
  • Offer to help your children study for dictées and French tests.
  • Encourage good study habits. Organize a time and a place to do homework - have a box of pencils, markers and a dictionary on hand and designate a specific spot where your children put their homework as soon as they come home from school.
  • Volunteer in the classroom. Parents can listen to students count, read, sing, or tell stories in French. Parents can also help with bulletin boards, fund-raising for the French programs, help with luncheons, chaperone excursions or talk about experiences and trips to Francophone countries.
  • Buy the book French Immersion, Yes, You Can Help! Revised Edition, 2002. Alberta Education. This is an inexpensive ($6.90) but very informative book for parents with children in French programs. Phone 780-427-2767.
  • Learn some French songs. Sing with your children! Play French CDs at home or listen to French music in the car. There are many excellent artists around the world who create music especially for second language learners. One of the best for elementary children is Jacquot. Visit www.jacquot.net.
  • If your school funds a Francophone entertainer for the students, be sure to invite the local newspaper and highlight the event.
  • Motivate your child and promote French in the home by organizing with your child's French teacher a group purchase of the CD of music created by Sound Language Solutions. Each song targets one of the most frequent errors made by students learning French. Memorization of these songs could help increase proficiency in French. The CD Veux-tu Jouer? Error Prevention and Correction in French is sold at a fraction of the price of other educational CDs. See www.soundlanguagesolutions.com.
  • If you have French relatives, have your children communicate with them or make greeting cards in French.
  • Consider pen pals from French-speaking countries. A good website is www.franceworld.com.
  • Take your children to francophone or bilingual concerts, theatre performances, story-telling events, puppet shows, or folk dancing concerts.
  • Play games in French. Check your local stores for French board games such as Scrabble, Speak'n'Spell, Taboo and Monopolief or order them from online stores or mail order venues.
  • Donate prizes such as dictionaries, French books and monetary prizes to present to deserving students at the end of the year or at graduations.
  • Purchase French computer software for your home computer.
  • Make use of the computer. Use a French search engine.
  • If your children take instrumental lessons, encourage them to learn French music and play for their friends in French class.
  • Help teachers organize visits for exchanges to Quebec, France or a French-speaking country. Volunteer to be a chaperone.
  • Check out summer camps, day camps, residential camps and even family camps where French is the language of communication!
  • Encourage your child to participate in French public speaking contests.
  • Dine out in a French restaurant. Ask your children to help you order in French.
  • Introduce your children to the works of francophone artists. Libraries are good resources leave art books on the coffee table.
  • Rent French videos and watch a movie with your children. See if you can rent a video by the award winning Canadian cinematographer Frederic Bach. Cracl is appropriate for all age groups. Le fleuve aux grandes eaux and L'homme qui plantait des arbres are great for older students.
  • Visit educational websites that are grade appropriate and have interesting activities in French. In Canada, for example, check a) CPF: www.cpf.ca b) Department of Canadian Heritage: www.canadianheritage.gc.ca
  • Use the Internet and do a search to find the music of popular Francophone singers.
  • Visit the library to find French books, CDs and videos or use their Inter-library loan service to get French materials.
  • Discuss with teachers the opportunities for summer jobs, exchanges, bursaries and scholarships available for your child in countries around the world.
  • Take your children and friends to sing French Christmas carols in your neighbourhood or in a senior's home.
  • Encourage your children to start a scrapbook or collection of "something French" - French CDs, stamps, money, postcards, pictures, fashion ideas, cards of French hockey or soccer players, French recipes, Eiffel Tower, etc.
  • Encourage family members to talk about and show pictures of their experiences or travels to Francophone communities and countries around the world.
  • Take advantage of free resources available throughout the world from francophone embassies, tourism offices or governmental organizations.
  • If your community organizes a fall fair, a winter festival for a Christmas walk, suggest your child's class sing or perform in French.
  • Encourage students to explore career options for bilingual students.
  • Discuss with your child the possibility of becoming a French teacher. It is an exciting and rewarding career!
  • Be a member of organizations like Canadian Parents for French (CPF) that promote the teaching and learning of French.

Dr. Cher Harvey, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. This article is an adaptation of "44 ways for parents to motivate their children to succeed in French" published by Canadian Parents for French, 2003.