How to Help Your Child Succeed in French Immersion Programs

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How to Help Your Child Succeed in French Immersion Programs

Whether or not to apply for a French Immersion school represents a major choice for parents in Ontario, but it’s an understandable one. Students who gain a proficiency in a second language may have access to additional career choices and opportunities. If you’ve done your homework and made the choice to place your child in French Immersion learning, our tutoring service has you covered to prepare for academic success! After all, Teachers on Call’s online and in-person tutors are certified teachers, many who support students in French Immersion programs. In this blog, we share strategies and tips for families getting ready to transition to Early, Middle and Late Immersion French programs.

Preparing your child ready for the exciting world of French Immersion learning is all about creating a fun and supportive environment at home. While most French Immersion parents don’t speak French, they still play a key role in making this bilingual journey a positive and enjoyable experience (which will make the transition much easier). Even if you don’t speak any French at all, that’s okay! You can still help your child get ready to learn. Of course, if you ever need some French Immersion tutoring in subjects like math or other homework, Teachers on Call’s in-person and online French tutors are always here to help – just give us a shout!

Here are our top tips for preparing your child for entering the French Immersion stream:

Be Ready to Work on Emotional Preparation for French Immersion

Registering your child in the French Immersion stream is a big decision and academic change. Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Most French Immersion programs start very young in elementary school. If your current or local school doesn’t start their program until later grades for Middle or Late French Immersion programs, your child may be leaving friends and a familiar learning environment behind, and potentially even changing schools. If they start in kindergarten for Early French Immersion, your child is getting ready to make a big step in adapting to a new learning environment in the first place!

Tell Your Child That It’s Okay to Be Nervous About Learning

Especially if your child is moving schools, they’re likely going to be nervous that they won’t know anyone. Be sure to reassure your child and attend an open house if available. The first days are always made easier with teachers helping students adapt to the change. Explain that they can always ask the teachers or older students for help, and that you’ll be there to support them at home.

Remind them that making new friends can be fun! Also, be sure to look around for familiar faces; they’re sure to find a couple from their previous schools.

Be Ready to Learn as A Parent!

If you’re not fluent in French yourself, parents, you’re likely going to have to dust off your own skills. Maybe you might even have to pick up some new ones! But that’s okay, right? By demonstrating your own willingness to admit that there are some things that you don’t know and that you’re willing to learn can help give your child some confidence and bridge the gap with a shared experience. Tell your child that if they learn new concepts at school, they can help you with your pronunciation. You might just be surprised at how motivating this is.

Don’t Go Overboard – Strike A Balance

Sometimes in our enthusiasm to try something new, parents can push a little too hard. This can be frustrating for a child who is uncomfortable or having difficulty, or even if they feel like their other interests and activities are being neglected in favour of this new thing (which they may not yet love the idea of). It’s critical to remember that a very important part of preparing your child for French Immersion at this early stage is making sure it stays fun. If a child is not having fun, expressing frustration, or wants to do other things, then remind yourself that there’s always tomorrow to investigate something interesting to do in French.

Gather Some Great French Resources You Can Use as Learning Tools

Flash cards with French words are a great, traditional tool, but they can also get boring in a hurry. Take the time to investigate different methods of learning and put yourself together a toolkit!

Here’s a list of different kinds of tools you can investigate curating:

        • Books – Not only are there great physical books you can borrow or buy for reading on the couch, there’s also some fun, interactive picture and audio books you can find online and on Google Play or the Apple Store. Some of these even read aloud, which is great for parents who don’t know enough French to pronounce things correctly.
        • Educational Apps – There are a number of great French apps that offer a variety of learning choices. CBC’s Mauril is a fantastic one, and we have other curated French apps you might want to check out here.
        • Online Platforms & Websites – Duolingo is probably one of the best examples of its kind for being relatively kid friendly. There are other platforms and websites – some are paid, some are not, and they offer a variety of games, flashcards, and other resources.
        • Spotify – If you’re already on Spotify, then don’t hesitate to lean in! There are tons of great songs and learning podcasts for all ages.  Singing French at home or in the car can make it fun!
        • Netflix & Other Streaming Services – The one thing Netflix does that we applaud above others is offer tremendous language support, especially on the Netflix Originals offerings. However, there are many other streaming services that offer French content and dubbing as well!
        • YouTube – YouTube has some fantastic French content in the form of learning podcasts and songs, and it can be a great way to discover their creator’s home sites. Learn French With Alexa and Charlotte Diamond are a couple names to get you started, but don’t let that stop you from looking for others!

Make French Part of Everyday Life

Okay, this is how you take your preparation for French Immersion for your child and make it happen! The spring and summer before your child enter a French Immersion program is a great time to get started, nice and easy. Incorporating a little French into everyday life will help smooth the transition for your child.  

Familiarize Yourself and Your Child with Basic French Vocabulary Conversationally - Introduce your child to basic French words and phrases related to everyday activities. “Hello!” “Good morning!” “I’m hungry!” (Bonjour and J’ai faim) and other phrases of this type are nice ways to practice.

Outside of short phrases, try to add at least a few new noun words regularly – at least every other day. For example, during mealtime, pick a couple of food items and learn them in French. Would they like a pomme or would they prefer un banane? For each morning, ask what day of the week it is in French. If there is a number, colour, letter they see, work to try to say it in French.

Enjoy Media in French – Books, games, music, and even television can be a great way to gain exposure to new words. It can also be a fun way to keep learning happening well beyond the transition! Be sure to check out the list of resources to find some great places to find these, and try to begin a habit that will last for many years going forward.

Why is it so important to enjoy visual and audio media in French? Listening to others converse in language forces us to improve our listening comprehension. Remember: this is true at all levels of learning French Immersion – not just for beginners. Listening comprehension is critical for eventual fluency, so watching TV in French is great! (And be sure to check out our list of Netflix shows to watch at different levels of French Immersion learning in later years).

We wish you success in preparing for the transition to French Immersion schools and learning! There’s no need for anyone to feel anxious – not even parents! Even if you don’t speak French yourself, most teachers are happy to communicate with parents in English, especially in the early years.

If your child ever needs the help of an in-person or online French tutor, Teachers on Call is always here to help!

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