When you have access to a good quality, comprehensive, French-English dictionary, you open up a world of possibilities to your French as a Second Language students. Vocabulary building is an important part of language learning, and having a good dictionary makes it easy and fun.
What dictionary should you buy?
I highly recommend investing in the biggest and best one you can afford. Small paperback and pocket dictionaries just don’t have all the information you will need. A larger version, on the other hand, will contain conjugations, grammar, word histories, examples of world usage, and even sample letters and phrases to help you in conversation and composition.
Having a comprehensive dictionary allows you to build your French lessons based on other topics that you may be studying. Continue reading
Most of you know that I am proud to live in the beautiful country of Canada, where we not only learn both English and French, but also enjoy four varied seasons throughout the year. While winter can be a challenge, with its cold and snow, we Canadians have learned to celebrate it!
Winter is especially beautiful in the capital city of Ottawa. The National Capital Commission transforms the Rideau Canal into the world’s longest ice rink. There are 7.8 kilometres (5 miles) of ice to enjoy. Even if you don’t skate, it’s fun to watch the skaters on the Rideau Canal.
For pictures, videos, more information about the Rideau Canal and an update on current ice conditions, visit:
The Official Rideau Canal Website
Vive le vent d’hiver !
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
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.
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!
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.
Babies are born imitators. They copy our movements, expressions, and mannerisms. Eventually, they copy our speech, each child effortlessly learning the sounds of her own native tongue.
It can be more difficult for older students learning the sounds of a new language.
English speakers in North America and around the world often have difficulty mastering new French sounds. While many sounds are the same in French and English, there are several sounds that are so different they can hardly be described in English!
Here is an overview of some of these difficult pronunciations, and some tricks that will help you to master them and be on your way to speaking French like a native francophone. Continue reading
Occasionally I am asked why I don’t include detailed French lesson plans with L’Art de lire.
My observation is that the more complicated something is, the less likely people are to use it. That is why I have kept lesson planning simple and totally at the discretion of the teacher.
There is a twelve step lesson guideline page at the beginning of L’Art de lire 1. This brief overview is enough to get you started working through the book and using the teaching aids.
Use the vocabulary, audio, and story to introduce each unit.
Do the exercises in the workbook.
Use the flashcards, story, and audio to review.
It is as simple as that. If you have more time, do exercises and more review. If you have a little time, just read the story, listen to the story again, or review the flashcards. Continue reading