The ideas below are all geared up to improve your child’s French skills outside of the classroom, which I have encouraged other parents to do and have tried and tested on my own children! My focus here is for you and your children to practice speaking French together. Children learn best from you and will follow your lead. The ideas are all supposed to be fun and non-intrusive so youngsters don’t feel ‘forced’ to learn, but do feel happy to have learnt something new and maybe you will too!
Food is a big incentive for children and it can be exciting to discover new food from a different culture. Here’s some ideas of French food to eat to encourage discussion in French about the ingredients, flavours and whether or not you like them… par exemple:
- Quel est votre parfum de glace préféré ?
- Make your own fancy ice creams with chantilly! I’ll have a chocolat liégeois – merci…
- Croissants for breakfast… aux raisins, aux amandes…
- Tartines after school with lashings of Nutella or Confiture.
- Tarte flambée always goes down well with children .. I call it a french pizza.
- Make your own citron pressé or sirop de… quelquechose.
2. À Table!
Sitting down to eat as a family is very important in France, it’s great fun to act out the traditions of another culture together but also children like routines and practising speaking French whilst doing an everyday activity helps to embed the language. We had a phase of only speaking French when we were laying the table so I would ask my children to come and fetch cinq forchettes, cinq assiettes and so on. Once seated we could ask each other for salt, pepper, la salade, l’eau etc For older children/ those more fluent in French try picking a topic for discussion during your meal e.g. Les différences entre le système politique en Angleterre et en France or perhaps something more fun!
3. Getting dressed
Depending on the age of your children, talking about choosing clothes
for the day can be a fun way to remember the vocabulary for garments and colours as well as positives/ negatives and good ways to ask for something..
- Maman, au’jourd hui je veux porter mon robe rouge! Avec mes chaussures en argent!
- Pas possible ma cherie, au’jourd hui nous allons faire le jardin.
- Alors – donne-moi mon gilet bleu et mon pull vert, merci
4. Walking or in the Car
Outside in the fresh air with the wind waking up those braincells is a great way to have a little French session, or if you have the children trapped in the car they can’t get away! Either talk about the French words for what you can see, do directions, discuss something topical or play I-spy .. in French “Je vois avec mon petit oeil espion OR J’espionne avec mon petit oeil .. quelque chose qui commence avec.. “L”!
5. TV, Cartoons, Films and Books for very young or older children
Younger children will enjoy watching learning programmes, learning numbers or colours in the language. The Internet makes it very easy to find these now! Older children might watch a favourite film like Harry Potter but in French. My children also enjoy French cartoons – very popular in France but not so popular here like Tin-Tin and Asterix, try to find Version Originale with no subtitles.
About the Author: Beth Nicholas is a professional writer for Lingos – the online language tuition community dedicated to pairing language teachers and learners, and providing a digital forum for learners to interact with like-minded students.