So You Really Want to Learn French

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-11-03-50-pmI really like Galore Park’s, “So You Really Want to Learn French,” (SYRWL) but it isn’t the easiest book to implement because there isn’t a teacher’s edition, so the parent is on their own for determining the best way to teach the subject to their child.

The first thing to remember is that this is a middle school curriculum, so if you had a foreign language class in middle school you probably remember what you actually learned.  I remember that in French class we learned food, colors, numbers, the ABC’s, the basic verb endings, and a few irregular verbs that you need in basic conversation.  Then we covered conversational French so that we could order food in a restaurant, say how we were feeling, our age, our names, and ask where things were.  We did this through songs and fairly easy worksheets.  We cooked recipes and had parties.  It was a fun introduction to a foreign language and culture.

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This is the Chapter Review Page for Chapter 2.

With that being said, the bar isn’t very high for middle school foreign language, and SYRWL definitely exceeds it.  The chapter is set up in a way that gives you a lot of options for how much to learn.  When I look at a chapter in the book to set learning goals, I start with the last page because it has a big review box that are the “must know” terms and concepts from the chapter.  You will notice that the student was actually exposed to way more French than is listed in the last page review box, so for us, everything beyond that box is enrichment.  I don’t need to stress about what is learned above and beyond that box, so start there and set realistic goals.  Your child doesn’t need to memorize any of the other vocabulary words, but they can if you want to put in the extra time.

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This is a sample page from Chapter 2.  Notice the extra vocabulary in gray.

The next thing I do is determine how long I want to spend on that particular chapter.  Book 1 has 10 chapters, and Anna doesn’t want it to take the whole year, so we will probably do 1-2 weeks on each chapter.  I look through the chapter to determine the number of exercises and then break it up evenly over the time I want to spend on it.  I try to put in one or two days of review for each chapter as well to really tie it together.  During the review, we make flash cards for the words in the chapter review box.  We always conjugate the verbs they list as well.  (We like to do these digitally through memrise, and with handwritten ones too so we have different ways to practice.) We also spend some time using the French we have learned in that chapter in basic conversations together.  I try to use the preceding chapter’s French in conversation as well so we don’t lose it.  We don’t always do everything above for each chapter, but we feel satisfied that we know the content of the box before moving on.

When working through the chapter, we do exactly what the exercises tell us to do with the intent of really learning that material.  This sounds obvious, but some of the exercises just tell you to ask your partner questions like the example and answer each other.  It would be be easy to just do two or three questions and call it good, but I like to really continue asking until Anna can answer me and question me without looking in the book.  That is how I know she really knows what she is doing.  I let her look in the book as long as she needs to and when she starts feeling like it is getting easy and doesn’t need the book, then I know she has it.  I start the next day with a few questions to see if she still remembers anything, and then we go on to the next exercise.

If you use, “So You Really Want to Learn…,” please comment below with ideas and methods that have worked for you to teach foreign languages to your child(ren).  Also comment below if you have more questions that I didn’t think of addressing.  It may be that I do have a way to make it easier, or we could find something together.

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