I didn’t plan on the boys learning languages. Their communication skills are bit delayed. We’re not worried anymore, they speak clearly almost all the time and are working very hard on their language skills. But I really thought that one language was more than enough for them to handle.
Home educated children don’t have to follow the National Curriculum and my intention was to take advantage of this freedom by skipping languages. Eldest, however, had other ideas. At school, he had French lessons so when he came out of school he asked to continue learning French.
I hardly want to discourage the boys from learning. So I went ahead and put French on the timetable.
It is, perhaps, one of our stranger lessons! We have some workbooks:
We have a CD and book set, which has a simple game to play on every double spread by Dorling Kindersley.
We also use online games from the BBC and the Duolingo app on my phone.
We have taken the boys to France twice, which they loved. We have done the traditional parenting trick of speaking French when we don’t want the boys to understand us – quite possibly the most efficient method of teaching words like ‘gateaux’ and ‘bonbons’.
My latest purchase is quite exciting. A home educating friend told about a book called The Avion My Uncle Flew. It’s written mainly in English, with a few French words scattered throughout.
As the book proceeds, more and more French words are introduced, until the end where a letter is composed entirely in French. The idea is that, by the end, the reader will be able to understand an entire letter in French. It’s a great idea! If anyone knows of anymore books like this, please let me know!
But, basically, it’s our busy-work lesson. I want the boys to enjoy themselves, I’m not really expecting much progress. They do try quite hard, they are getting better at recognising words, I am unsure whether their pronunciation will ever be comprehensible. We make a couple of attempts at pronouncing a word, then I smile and praise their effort. Eldest finds it almost impossible to imitate pronunciations of English words that he hears frequently, so he cannot repeat the French that he hears. He makes an attempt, and that’s enough for me.
The most impressive aspect, for me, has been their sheer persistence. One year into home education and they still want to keep trying with French. I am very proud of their sustained efforts. If nothing else, they are developing their determination!