Americans have the stereotype of being monolingual. This might have been true in the past but as the diversity of the US has increased over the years, there has been a growth in the number of students that study a foreign language while in primary and secondary school.
High school French curriculums now offer options for Advance Placement and International Baccalaureate French classes and a lot more students are taking advantage of these opportunities. But the same cannot be said for middle school students. This is because the school system does not provide opportunities to take a language instruction course during the school day.
The National K-12 Foreign Language Enrolment Survey showed that only one in five students in the US were enrolled in a foreign language course. In the US, the most popular foreign language studied is Spanish, followed by French.
In the growing globalized world, it is becoming increasingly more important for kids to be bilingual or even multilingual. Learning a second or third language can open various doors and opportunities.
In addition, it is important to begin language courses as soon as possible, as early as in primary education.
Some middle schools offer the option of French classes intertwined to the education system as an elective or an extracurricular; if this is the case at your local middle school, take advantage of the opportunity if possible.
This means that they will be able to take a language course in addition to their language arts, social studies, and math classes.
Mastering a foreign language and becoming fluent can take years, the earlier you expose your child French immersion, the easier it is for them to learn.
If your child’s school does not provide opportunities for French classes, don’t fret! There are plenty of other opportunities for your middle schooler to learn French.
A Typical French Class in Middle School
Middle school French courses tend to be very basic, they help students build a strong foundation for when they move on to more intricate immersion courses such as high school French, AP, or IB program French courses.
The stronger the foundation, the easier it will be for the student to reach fluency levels.
Typical course objectives for a junior high French class could include some of the following:
- To recognize the influence of French culture and language around the globe, with an emphasis on France.
- To communicate in French at a beginner level. Greetings, numbers, slander vocabulary, basic conversation, and conjugation of basic verbs will be taught.
- To understand basic French in spoken and written expressions.
- To learn a basic history of the French language and culture. In addition to understanding how France has shaped policy, language, and identity.
These objectives may vary depending on if the child enters a class in 6th or 8th grade.
One of the most important parts of a French class is participation and attendance. The more a student participates and practices their French skills class the faster they will reach bilingualism.
The supply list for a French class will most likely include your French textbook (whichever one is recommended or required by your teacher), the accompanying exercise workbook, pen or pencil, and a notebook for your notes. You might also want to pick up a French review book.
Don't forget, ask at your local junior high if they offer these courses outside of the regular school hours, some schools will offer language immersion as an after school activity or elective.
French Classes Outside of School
Unfortunately, not all middle schools include secondary languages as part of the curriculum, but there are plenty of other opportunities to get your child onto the path of becoming a multilingual and increasing their language acquisition.
French classes at a language school and private tutors are available both in-person and online to aid with bilingual education.
Here on Superprof, you will find a variety of tutors that are available to teach all levels and ages. 100% of our tutors offer their first lesson for free, so you can try out a tutor before making any commitments. The average cost of private French lessons is about $27 per hour.
In addition to private French lessons, if you happen to live in one of the more popular cities in the US, there might be an Alliance Française in your area.
The Alliance Française is a French cultural center that provides “many services and produces events educating the greater community about French culture and to enrich the lives of francophones in your area.”
The Alliance Française offers courses to students of all ages and skill levels.
Tips to Teaching Your Child French
If you happen to already speak French and are thinking of teaching your child French from home, it is important to know that the faster you introduce your child to a second language, the easier it will be for them to pick up the accents, intonation, and basic vocabulary.
Speaking and reading to your child at an early age in both languages can be extremely valuable for your child's future since french is such an international language.
Here are a couple of tips on how to get the job done in the best way possible.
- Teach the basics - before diving into vocabulary and grammar, it is important for the child to learn the basics of French such as the alphabet and numbers. You can start by teaching the French alphabet song.
- Introduce basic vocabulary - shapes, animals, colors, fruits, and veggies are all vocal topics to explore first with your child. You can also incorporate some fun into the learning, for color vocabulary; maybe try a fun coloring book and asking the child to identify the colors in French. You can also label objects around your house in with flashcards with the French words of the object.
- Watch French cartoons and movies - watching French TV can be extremely helpful. It's entertaining and fun, and all of the while a learning experience. You can watch classics like SpongeBob in French, Bob l’éponge, or French originals like the Asterix animated movies.
- Online games - the Internet can be you find when you are looking for entertaining ways to teach French. There are websites and apps dedicated to the knowledge of a new language. The popular app, Duolingo can be used for both adults and kids. Hello- World French Children’s Activities is also a great site, it has the options to learn vocabulary on a variety of different topics like family (la famille), school (l’école), clothing (les vêtements) among others.
- French books for kids - reading bedtime stories or fairy tales can be a great way to induce your kids to new vocabulary. A book like 10 French-English Fairy Tales comes with audio. The audio includes different character voices and is even interactive.
Basic French Phrases
Looking over a couple of basic words and phrases, before your child steps into their first french class might help your child feel more at ease in the class.
During the initial language classes, your child will be learning the basics. This might include the alphabet, the numbers, standard vocabulary, and basic nouns and verbs. They will also learn basic greetings and how to introduce themselves.
The following are a couple of things, your child might learn in the first couple of classes.
|How’s it going?||Comment ça va|
|Good morning/ good day!||Bonjour!|
|Good afternoon/ evening!||Bonsoir!|
|Please||S'il vous plaît|
|My name is ...||J m’appelle ...|
|What’s your name?||Comment tu t’appelles?|
|Where do you live?||Où habites-tu?|
|I live in ...||J’habite en…|
|How old are you?||Quel âge as-tu?|
|I am __ years old.||J’ai __ ans.|
Mastering French and becoming bilingual is not something that occurs over a short period of time.
It takes years of practice, patience, and persistence, but learning about a new language and culture can be one of the most gratifying experiences in the world because once you can communicate in a different language you are opening your self up to a different world of culture and potential new friends.
If you still need convening on why you should enroll your child in French classes, check out of 10 reasons for learning French.