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Tips on learning french vocab

(23 Posts)
CuckooSings Tue 08-Oct-19 17:52:33

Dd1 has just started Y7 - she has never learnt a second language. In French they are expected to learn 20 words, spelling and pronunciation, per week. Less than 70% accurate and they get a detention. Trouble is dd1 just cannot learn it :-( last week I spent an hour (in 15 min blocks) physically sitting with her and writing them out, she spent an hour on her own writing them out and I spent all week using the vocab words as often as I could making her verbally use the vocab. She got 4/20 right and has a detention on Thursday. Any tips on how to help her learn? Shes going to have a weekly detention at this rate

OP’s posts: |
sleepismysuperpower1 Tue 08-Oct-19 18:48:20

try putting the vocab words into quizlet (its an app), you can put the english word on one side and tap on it to flip it over, revealing the french word. you can also try writing them on sticky notes and putting them round the house, as seeing them often might help them sink in. a detention seems very harsh!

Engden14 Tue 08-Oct-19 18:49:18

Duolingo. You hear the word too which is crucial for French pronunciation.

TheCanterburyWhales Tue 08-Oct-19 18:56:05

The problem with Duolingo is it isn't going to give the OP's dd the 20 words she needs
She needs to do a mind map, put them into semantic groups, have picture prompts etc
As a beginner, 20 new words a week shouldn't be that onerous as presumably they are semantically linked in some way (clothes, parts of the body, the house etc) If it's feasible, get her to stick a post it on the sofa/table/bookcase etc.

I'd also ask the teacher how s/he expects the kids to learn the words, given that the punishment for not doing so is harsh

Words can rarely be learned in complete isolation and if , like dd's German teacher, she is expecting the kids to do so, she needs her methods updating tbh.

MongerTruffle Tue 08-Oct-19 18:58:35

Duolingo is good for learning the language independently, but not so good for learning specific vocab. Quizlet, Tinycards and Memrise are very good.

Are you sure it's a detention and not a retest?

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 08-Oct-19 19:07:37

I would do 'flash cards' with French on one side and English on the other. Don't waste time on the spelling until she knows the word. (If she can pronounce it well she can spell it phonetically anyway.)

Think about homophones if possible, and general connections. eg fenetre means window, fenestration is about windows in a building.

5 mins 3x a day is possibly better than one block of 15 minutes.

Only initially starting with the easiest 10 and adding in more as the week goes on might help.

All the above worked well for DD1.

DD2 would have had weekly detentions too as she can't even do English spelling well. If it becomes an ongoing issue and you know she is putting in the effort, then contact the teacher.

Engden14 Tue 08-Oct-19 19:43:11

Brainscape is also good.

clary Tue 08-Oct-19 19:46:34

Teen I love that connection 😄😄 not sure how many 11yos know what fenestration is tho! I used to teach MFL and got so depressed when I would offer "tranquille" (= calm in French) as a cognate (word that looks like the English word) as none of the students knew the weird tranquil! sigh.

OP some good ideas here, how about recording them so she can listen on the way to school? At least you'll be halfway there. Punishment does seem harsh tho.

clary Tue 08-Oct-19 19:47:16

ahem The WORD tranquil, not weird!!

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 08-Oct-19 19:51:40

clary 'defenestration' is apparently 'the act of throwing someone out of a window' which started the 30 years war in the 1600s. The kind of thing that could be on Horrible Histories or might appeal to an 11yo.

clary Tue 08-Oct-19 20:19:11

😂😂 brilliant! I would take anything as an MFL teacher tbh. A student I tutor told me kein (no/not a) is shorter than klein (small) so it's easy to remember what it means! oooookayyy then!

CuckooSings Tue 08-Oct-19 20:47:49

Definitely a detention. Ironically at the same time as homework club which she attends as she struggles academically so its quickly going to become a vicious cycle as without the help she won't complete other subjects homework. Which is why I'm keen to find a solution! She can't spell in English either and has always taken ages to retain any information. Even stuff shes interested in.

OP’s posts: |
TeenPlusTwenties Tue 08-Oct-19 21:21:32

Is she on the SEN register?

I'd think about whether I wanted to ask for her to be withdrawn from French and spend time working in learning support (or wherever). If that isn't an option for the school then see if she can be excused the tests or something.

DD2 spent 3 years doing French and learned more or less nothing. I'm not anti-MFL, DD1 did 2 for GCSE.

To start with I'd email the MFL teacher explaining your DD's issues and saying she is trying to learn but it may be beyond her, and what does she suggest (and explaining impact on other subjects.)

CuckooSings Wed 09-Oct-19 06:04:47

No not SEN. We thought she was but her primary school were adamant not. I hadn't thought of speaking to the teacher - I'll ring the school and see if I can get an email address

OP’s posts: |
TeenPlusTwenties Wed 09-Oct-19 08:57:13

DD2's primary screened for dyslexia and said she wasn't.
I asked for re-screening in secondary and it came back as slow processing & poor short term memory and poor auditory processing and she now qualifies for extra time. They think the short term memory & auditory processing impacts the spelling (and probably languages too).

Secondary schools seem better set up for finding issues than primary, so maybe worth contacting the SENCO just to rule out / in any underlying issues.

TeenPlusTwenties Wed 09-Oct-19 08:58:19

… or it could just be she wasn't using an effective method to learn the vocab.

Mynameis2 Wed 09-Oct-19 18:28:33

You could use Squeebles app. You can set up your own tests and record your voice saying the word. I use it for my 7 year old’s spelling tests but no reason why you couldn’t use it for French Vocab (just checked and the accents are on keyboard too)

Biscuitsneeded Thu 10-Oct-19 18:52:42

I'm an MFL teacher and I would support the notion that for some children it genuinely is hugely challenging to learn 20 words of vocab with spelling, gender, accents etc all correct. If you think she is putting in the allocated time and more, and still not succeeding, then I do think an email to teacher to explain it's not just laziness is reasonable. Quizlet etc is good, also looking for tricks to help remember eg Mr Whiteboard, Mrs Window etc with a mental image of a woman who is a window and a man who is whiteboard, to help remember genders. I personally think writing them out is pointless because you can write/copy without engaging the brain at all so it won't stick. Is she in a mixed ability class? The problem is that some children can learn 20 words in 10 minutes, whereas others could try for an hour and not succeed - the teacher might be willing to recognise this and set differentiated homework where some children learn 5 words, others 10 and the most able learn 20.

TonTonMacoute Thu 10-Oct-19 22:52:31

Has she got a phone? Record herself reading them and listen to it.

Milliefizz Thu 10-Oct-19 22:53:02

My children use Vocab Express and Memrise for vocab. There is a different website for grammar ...can't remember the name.

Alternatively type up the words in a two column (eng/french) table and print out and cut out each word and its french translation as a strip. Start off going through French to English and any your dd doesn't know put in a basket and repeat the exercise until all the french to English is known. Then put all the words back in the basket and do the same with English to french. This way your dd will practise the hardest words more times giving more chance of remembering them.

Mistressiggi Thu 10-Oct-19 23:01:05

I wouldn't be letting my (dyslexic) child sit a detention for that. If he had not tried fair enough, but you really had worked together on this. Speak to the school.

BrokenWing Thu 10-Oct-19 23:12:42

Use actual revision cards instead of an app, A8 is a good size. We use these ones

Then use spaced repetition to revise. Search you tube videos for how to use revision cards and spaced repetition.

StanleySteamer Fri 11-Oct-19 09:48:52

@Milliefizz is right, as a retired MFL teacher, you DO have to concentrate harder on the more difficult words.
Remember, a word has to be used up to 13 times IN A REASONABLE CONTEXT not in isolation before it will stick. Other posters have come up with lots of good ideas, so I will only add one or two.
You could start using the words as "franglais" i.e. by saying things like "Shut la porte would you Darling, s'il vous plait? (And yes I know the i needs a circumflex accent, can't easily do it here!). This puts it in
context, eventually she will learn to put it in a French context.
If she takes a sheet of A4, puts it in landscape, writes the english words down the left side in a column, then writes the French ones just to the right, no cheating, i.e. tests herself, then looks through the French list and ticks the ones she got right on her sheet of A4 she can then concentrate on relearning the others, retesting ticking etc. This way she will concetrate totally on the ones she struggles with.
Very important. Do not try to learn more than 7 new words at a time. to do 20 would be very difficult. I was once on a course and we were given 10 words in Urdu or some language none of us knew, to put us in the situation your daughter is in. We had to learn them in half an hour. I used my method and it worked, so it proved to me it can work. BUT some children are more linguistically talented than others. If she has difficulties with other subjects as you say, then I would urge you to go to the school and talk to the person in charge of the SEN department, or whatever they call it there. There may be a case for giving her other extra tuition in the times the rest of the class is doing French.

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