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Teaching my children a second language

(11 Posts)
ceeb Wed 16-Sep-09 10:36:10

Hi all
This is my first post so I hope this is what people do! blush
I'm trying to teach my boys (4&6) a second language (French) and am looking to meet people online who are trying to do the same so as to exchange ideas.
I'm not bilingual but I can speak a little French so I try to have a little conversation with them in the car everyday on the way to school. They also have a small informal class once a week with some friends and a local French mum. I play DVDs in French to them and CDs of songs, which they seem to like. At the moment the older one has a good understanding of French but will only come out with an odd word or two, depending on his mood. The younger one doesn't seem to understand as well and is even more reluctant to speak. sad I don't want to make it a big deal or a chore so am looking for some fun ideas/activities that we can do together.
Any ideas?


ZZZenAgain Wed 16-Sep-09 10:43:46

how long have you been doing it? Dd was 7 last year when she decided she wanted to learn Italian. I'm not great at Italian myself and there is so little available to teach Italian as a foreign language to dc. There is a lot out there for French as you have no doubt found.

Dd loves it but then it was her idea, so perhaps that makes a difference to motivation? I bought Italian for Children from Catherine Bruzzone (there is also French for children) in the same series and a couple of DVDs (Italian for Kids I and II) plus books and so on. We worked through that CD course last year and she now has a Saturday class with an Italian teacher and she loves that.

What I found good was to not do too much and always stop when she was still clamouring for more. We have had a lot of fun with it really. She aLso like to watch DVDs she knows in another language already in Italian. So last year for instance, I heard a lot of "salve Nancy! come stai?" (Nancy Drew in endless repetition). Does your little one need more repetition maybe? Does he sing along to the songs?

You can get a lot of little videos on youtube for French with cute animations. Things like nursery songs - au claire de la lune etc and little cartoons. Maybe he would like that?

dd absolutely loves Choo choo soul in Italian. It taught her how to say the Italian alphabet for instance.

Long way to go still here on the Italian but she has discovered Geronimo Stilton (mouse detective) and I was bombarded with requests to buy those in Italian and English .She tells me she understands a lot of the Italian already but I am not totally convinced. She is just a hoarder/collector at heart I think. She flicks through them but I don't think she can truly read the Italain.

ZZZenAgain Wed 16-Sep-09 10:44:58

sorry about all the tipos!

BonsoirAnna Wed 16-Sep-09 10:45:56

ceeb - my DD is bilingual English-French. Have you got the new Tintin DVDs that came out earlier this year? DD loves them and switches between English and French and knows everything on them in both languages.

ZZZenAgain Wed 16-Sep-09 10:53:48

Hi Anna, yes we have a set of those TinTin DVDs in German/French and dd went through a phase of watching them over and over in French. You might want to watch them first though to decide if they are all films your 4 year old would be comfortable with.

I think it is quite a good way to learn/reinforce a language you are learning if you already know the story quite well in a language you have mastered.

Another thing we did a lot last year was finding out about famous Italians (Marco Polo, Leonardo da Vinci etc), making some Italian recipes and trying some Italian specialities. Looking up books and videos to see what Venice, Florence, Rome etc look like. Anything that fuels the fire really.

womblemeister Wed 16-Sep-09 11:08:10

As they're boys anything physical or slightly competitive is good and will probably hold their interest for longer. For example you could pre-teach the names of fruit, household objects, clothes etc. in French, then pin pictures of these things around the room and call out the word, they then have to run to the correct picture and repeat the word.

Role-playing is also good for holding interest, particularly if you get them to dress up as well. for example teach bonjour, salut, qui est-ce etc. by getting 1 child to go outside and the other had to open the open the door when he hears a knock. I tried this with my DCs and it worked quite well. You have to write a little dialogue first but if you do it enthusiastically and get them to dress up, it's usually quite fun.

ceeb Fri 18-Sep-09 12:05:08

Wow these are great ideas. I hadn't thought of the Tintins dvds - will see if I can get hold of them. I was going to label items around the house but was waiting until they were more comfortable with reading - didn't think of just doing a race/hunt.

I'm also trying to not push it too much. I want to try to make it as fun as possible for them. They both love the teacher who comes over once a week and (I think) they see it as a fun time to spend with their friends. The car I think they see as a bit of a drag but not terrible, as I don't force them to speak back, and I translate if they don't understand what I've said.

The youtube idea is good - have found some great websites (can give you a list if interested) but not tried that yet.

I found lots of good material on but have to hold myself back from buying too much!

If you come across any other good ideas I'd love to hear them....

paranoidmother Thu 24-Sep-09 13:24:07

Sorry to join the conversation late but I was hoping to improve my to dc's language and help them learn French, I was going to do Spanish but I think I'll look into that in a few years.

So any age, the younger the better, is ok to teach a new language but do you set aside time to do it each day or just as you go along. My DC's are 3 & 4 so was going to do talking and listening now and reading once they can read English as I don't think English Phonics will work for French.

I did find a couple of Usborne DVD's that are quite good in French. Also our local library will bring things from other librarys for free for kids so am going to try and make the most of that I think.

Sorry i've waffled on but I suppose it would be doing as fun as possible. Shame we can't get CBeebies in another language or some of the programmes.

ZZZenAgain Thu 24-Sep-09 13:26:26

just speaking generally some exposure every day is the best way to learn a language at any age really IMO

drivinmecrazy Thu 24-Sep-09 13:40:16

I take my girls (4&8) over to visit my Mum in Spain 3 or 4 times a year, with a month over the summer so was really keen they grew up at least familiar with the sounds of the language. We have learnt together, teaching them numbers and the alphabet as they learnt in English, and basic words as they learnt to speak. Exposure from such an early age was great for DD1. It has helped her hugely with learning french at school, which thrills me as I hated languages when I was younger.
DD2, on the other hand, is far more confident which has led to real confusion now she has started reception and they are learning french once a week (hello is 'bonjolla' and good night has become 'bon noches') She grasps the concept of a foreign language, but not that there may be more than two. Numbers are also really confusing her because of the similarities. Am not expecting them to become fluent in everything, but I do believe it has given them a great start and although i understand Spanish quite well, their pronounciation and accent is great.

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 16-Oct-09 13:52:32

Brilliant ideas here everyone. Read with interest.

I grew up with two languages and loved languages I am keen to encourage this in my boys. I think it is brilliant that you are all trying to encourage this.

At the moment I try to just speak as much as possible and DS1 (3.5) is becoming really good now at saying things when I least expect, I think he likes how pleased I am when he does it without prompting.

DH also speaks another language and they have a good understanding but dont speak.

I am keen to start on French (which has been my favourite that I have learnt outside of home) but am mindful that I will be overloading so am waiting till they start in primary school and then because i have a decent amount I am hoping that I will be able to give them confidence in learning it.

Some of these ideas are great and I will try to utilise them with our Turkish. We also do the disney dvds in Turkish and have them in English so I think that definitely works well.

Good luck everyone.

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