Keep Your Children Practising Their French This Summer

Jul 24, 2017

Many parents of students in French immersion are wondering how they can ensure their children continue to practise their French during the hazy days of summer. Mirna Hafez, a principal at TFS – Canada’s International School, shares her ideas. “Having been in French immersion education for most of my life, in Canada and abroad, I know how important it is to stay connected to a second language,” she says. “Despite my belief that summer is a time for family, relaxation and, most importantly, the dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), I do think there are fun ways you can maintain your children’s language skills.”

When Mme Hafez first moved to Toronto, what worried her most was not having access to French. “I wanted my children to learn and live in French, and to become fully bilingual,” she explains. These days, Toronto is booming culturally and offers things to do for everyone, big and small. Whether it is theatre, music, movies, festivals or French camps, there are so many ways to introduce your child to fun French experiences. Alliance Française Toronto has many resources to help you find activities to suit you and your child.

Here are a few more of Mme Hafez’s suggestions:

  1. We have access to all of the wonderful foods that connect us to the French culture. Why not go to Thobors Boulangerie Patisserie Café with your children and speak to the owners, Marc or Sylvie; ask for un croissant, un chocolat chaud or une Orangina. Visit a restaurant such as Le Select, where you can order an authentic croque-monsieur off the French menu and enjoy it on their beautiful terrasse.
  2. TFO airs excellent educational French programs for kids of all ages. They also have a website with amazing videos and games. One show that Mme Hafez really likes features children guiding the viewer to French-speaking areas all over the world, while simultaneously sharing their experiences and cultures. View it here. How fun is it to travel, discover the world and French cultures, all the while sitting in your backyard or at your cottage?
  3. Public libraries have an extensive selection of French books, CDs and movies. Going to the public library was a favourite weekly outing when Mme Hafez’ children were little. They also host many events in the summer for children. If your local library branch does not provide enough choices, you can place a hold online for items you are looking for and they will soon be delivered to your branch. Easy, quick and you can choose them with your children online together. This is what Mme Hafez has been doing to catch up on many French movies.
  4. Children love keeping a diary in French. At the beginning of the summer, take your child shopping and let your child pick out a small notebook. The idea is not to treat it as homework, but rather to encourage them to use it as a journal that they can write in when they feel like it. Every day, they could write a sentence or more about what happened that day, what they did, or what they enjoyed the most. Encourage them to add a corresponding souvenir, such as a movie ticket or the admission ticket from the museum you visited, a picture of the friend your child spent the day with, some sand from the beach. All of this can be done in French, so that they can show it to their teacher from the previous year, the principal, or whomever they choose in September.
  5. There are many websites, online games and interactive books. A simple search through Google or your app store will turn up many ideas.
  6. Of course, there are always the simple activities. Host a French movie night (Mme Hafez loves the Red Balloon), watch French TV shows, read French comic books, listen to French music in the car, or find a pen pal. Why not let your child read to you, even if you do not speak French? You could also cook together while following some easy French recipes that you can find online, or on YouTube if your child cannot yet read. The goal is to constantly stay connected to the language and, most of all, to see it as a present and living language.

Amusez-vous bien !

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