Friday, January 10, 2014

Encore en Français

We're trying a new curriculum for French.  I had been using Nallenart's L'art de dire, but I found it was a bit too much fussing around with downloading audio files and printing pages so that I would forget to do it before our appointed weekly classtime and N. consequently wasn't making much progress beyond vocabulary building.  I'm too old-school; I need books and CDs!  I might go back to Nallenart for the more advanced levels because I've had trouble finding a text beyond the beginning level that is not written for junior high or high school kids.  But for now we needed a fresh start.

When we were in Paris in July I went to the English-language bookstore WH Smith near the Louvre and asked someone in the children's section what she recommended for an English-speaking child who wanted to learn French.  She suggested Les Loustics published by Hachette because it is completely immersive; all text in the books and workbooks and all instructions on the CD are in French.  So I bought two levels of books and CDs and N. started working on the first lessons of the first level yesterday.  

Although he was restarting with things he already knows (greetings, numbers, saying your age), N. freaked out at first when he heard the CD because it really is all in French!  He literally tried to run out of the room and I had to pause the CD to convince him to calm down and give it a try.  After doing a few exercises (sometimes repeating them numerous times), he brightened and said, "So, I'm really going to learn to speak French?!"  The textbook is colorful and the exercises in the accompanying workbook were fun (including stickers!  Stickers make everything more fun).  I was impressed with the way the activities reinforced the material being taught in multiple modes, through listening, speaking, drawing, stickers, and writing, while still being fun.  

I hope this series will get us in a regular weekly French habit that we can sustain throughout the semester.  It will be a fun review and will, I hope, get N. more comfortable speaking French, not just saying isolated words.  And I'm already getting ahead of myself trying to decide what we'll use at the next level when we need to get more serious about grammar.  In addition to Nallenart, I'm tempted by Valette's French for Mastery, which I used ages ago in junior high myself!  Maybe I could supplement this with weekly conversation lessons with a college student on my campus?  All suggestions and recommendations are welcome!  Should I be exploring apps and online programs?

---P.S. Collins French Club is a beginner series that is similar to Les Loustics, although it does offer all the printed directions in both French and English so it is not as immersive.  But it's cheaper and more readily available in the US (lots of used copies on US Amazon, while you need to go to the French Amazon to get the full Les Loustics package).


Adrienne Pilon ("A") said...

You are very ambitious. I am wondering if you have tried Rosetta Stone. We used it for Italian and the kids liked it very much.

CMR said...

haha--love the image of N running out of the room! Sounds like a good program, tho. good luck!


earthcore said...

How is French going now? I'd love an update on what you chose to use after Les Loustics. I'm using it with my 11 year old daughter after reading about it here. We just finished the first level, and she loves it.

Fanny Harville said...

Thanks for your comment. N. is 11 now and he's halfway through Les Loustics 3, and that's the highest level for the series, as far as I can tell. I had to order it from the French Amazon, by the way. I didn't buy the Guide Pedagogique for teachers, and for the most part was OK without it. We do French once a week, so N's progress is slow but steady; it takes one school year at this pace to get through one level of Les Loustics. I'm very impressed with how much he's learned from it (if you click the "French" tag on this blog you'll see a couple more recent posts). He's just starting to learn basic passe compose now, and it's a challenge, but it's going well. After this year (when he'll be in 7th grade), I'm planning to have him audit the beginning French class at the university where I teach. At the first that will be review for him, but it will go at a much faster pace and I suspect quickly surpass what he's learned. If that goes well, he'll continue in successive semesters. I wish Les Loustics continued beyond level 3, but since it doesn't, I think an in-person class with a fully fluent teacher (unlike me!) is our best option. There probably are other good programs/curricula for middle-school-aged kids that one could do at home, but I don't have any recommendations -- sorry I can't be more helpful there.