To form the negative in French, we usually use two little words, ne and pas. We place ne in front of the verb and pas after the verb. English mostly gets by with one word, not. For example:
je ne vais pas
I am going
I am not going
We can see that ne and not are very similar; both can make the sentence negative. But where does this extra little word “pas” come from?
The word “pas” in French also has another meaning. It is a noun that means “step,” as in to take a step forward. If you are a ballet fan, you have heard of the expression “pas de deux” used to describe a dance for two people.
Linguists tell us that the use of pas as a negative came from people using pas in its original meaning of a step.
Just as in English we might say “I am not walking one step,” in French the expression at one time was “je ne march pas,” with the meaning of “I am not walking a step.”
This use of pas became extended to apply in other cases also, and so evolved into the present day use of pas in most negative sentences.
This process of turning a noun, verb, or adjective into a grammatical word is called “grammaticalization” by those who study the history and evolution of languages. The French use of pas is just one example of this.
As a homeschooling mom for 18 years, I was never much at record keeping. Each year I vowed I would dutifully keep track of every remotely educational thing my sweeties did every day. Each year I failed miserably at this!
Thankfully, I always made sure that my kids were working from a well laid-out curriculum. This ensured that however badly I had kept track of the daily activities, at the end of the year I could say we had completed such-and-such program and so covered all the necessary scholastic bases.
I always advise that homeschoolers, especially those who are new, work from established curricula to ensure that their children don’t have any confusing gaps in their education. That this makes record keeping easier is a great bonus!
As a French teacher at the middle school level, and even with primary students, I often had new students come into my class who were frustrated with French, and not experiencing the success they were capable of.
Often the source of this frustration was some kind of gap in their understanding. Perhaps this was some point of grammar they had never quite understood. Perhaps it was that they had not been taught French phonics and so were unsure about reading aloud.
Having a good curriculum not only makes record keeping a breeze, it also gives students a comprehensive, step by step introduction to each key concept at just the right time. A win-win situation in the homeschool and in the classroom!
Sometimes homeschooling parents can be a bit intimidated by the idea of teaching French at home. Teaching a second language is like teaching any other subject, though. You can get started even though you’re not an expert. You might just be pleasantly surprised to find yourself learning right alongside your children.
When I was homeschooling, I took it for granted that I didn’t know everything. The children and I traveled together on our adventure in home education. While they were impressed that Mom knew a whole lot of stuff about a whole lot of stuff, my children didn’t ever expect me to know everything there was to know about any giving topic. What I didn’t know, we found out together. What a great lesson for my kids to see that there is no age limit to learning!
Why should learning French as a second language be any different? With the right user-friendly curriculum, you can learn right along with your children as you progress though the material. Even though you might have little to no experience with French, you really can make French a part of your homeschool curriculum.
L’Art de lire was designed originally for homeschooling parents, keeping in mind that not everyone has a strong background in the French language. It starts out very gently and gradually, building understanding and confidence as a strong foundation for success.
Adjectives, words that describe people, places, things, or ideas, bring life and color to our writing and speech. They describe things so that the reader or listener can get a truer picture of what the author or speaker is talking about.
Which of these sounds more appealing? A glass of iced tea, or a tall, cool glass of sweet, refreshing, iced tea? Adjectives are essential to good communication.
In English, nouns don’t have gender so the adjective stays the same, no matter what we are describing. It makes no difference whether we are writing about a tall boy or a tall girl; we still use tall. Even when we are describing more than one thing, such as tall boys and tall girls, the adjective doesn’t change.
When it comes to adjectives in French, though, things are more complicated. Continue reading →
For children in grades K to three, L’Art de DIRE is a great introduction to learning French. Detailed lesson plans, reproducible teaching aids and a totally oral approach make this book ideal for teaching French to children who are not yet ready to learn to read in French. Continue reading →
L’Art de lire combines beginning conversational French with an introduction to French phonics, enabling children to read simple stories in French from the first lesson. Includes verb conjugations, grammar, and conversational French.
The six levels of L’Art de lire correspond roughly to the curriculum guidelines for Grades 4-8 Core French in Ontario, Canada.
Many homeschooling parents find it a challenge making everyday conversation when teaching French as a Second Language. Not every homeschool teacher has the fluency required to speak comfortably in French. Don’t let this hold you back! Even beginners are up to the challenge of making conversation in French!
Children need to see you making the effort to speak too, even if your own French language skills are a bit rusty, or even non-existent! Practice with your children as much as possible, making the things you are learning part of your daily interactions whenever you can.
Using French in Everyday Life
As you go through your day, remember to review the vocabulary that you have learned so far. Continue reading →