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How do you teach a second language effectively?


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Is it his first year studying the language? What language is it? What, specifically is he struggling with? Are you asking to try to help him do better this year, or are you thinking about making a change for next year?

I'm all questions today, aren't I? (But really, I think we need a bit more info to help you out)

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The key to learning a language is practice.

Lots and lots and lots of practice.

Practice listening.

Practice reading.

Practice speaking.

Ideally every day.

Hope old is the child?

What is the class format?

What language?

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2 hours ago, SusanC said:

Is it his first year studying the language? What language is it? What, specifically is he struggling with? Are you asking to try to help him do better this year, or are you thinking about making a change for next year?

I'm all questions today, aren't I? (But really, I think we need a bit more info to help you out)

 

He is studying French through an online class (WTMA). He is specifically struggling with the grammar. He is doing well with learning the vocabulary etc..

He is thirteen.

He would like to continue learning French and has expressed an interest in Mandarin as well. 

We haven't tried DuoLingo nor have we tried Rosetta Stone

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Duo has some grammar if he reads the "tips" for each lesson group. However, it wouldn't be easy to use that grammar teaching to directly supplement a class because it is often broken up into bits for each group of lessons.

I wonder if you could afford/find a few sessions with a on a service like italki specifically to review grammar? Alternatively you could check for a used text book or something like this French grammar workbook. Maybe the BBC French materials online, they have a grammar section here.

I agree with @Maize that practice is what makes it stick. If it were my dc I would probably sit with them and choose supplemental material and then schedule out time to work on it, maybe with you if that is an option or else on his/her own.

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Maybe a piece of encouragement for him: grammar study, especially conjugations, remains a significant part of language arts instruction for native French speakers through middle school/junior high level. It's challenging (at least in written form) even for many native speakers.

I was in French schools for grades 6-8, the Bescherelle was a critical reference for all students!

Edited by maize
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French grammar is a nightmare. French people themselves spend most school hours on varieties of French grammar. Submission more than conquering is my mode of approach:) I saw a funny gif the other day which had achieving level B2 in French at the very top of the intelligence pyramid 😂😂anyway for grammar specifically there’s a gazillion resources (again, because french grammar is continuously studied), but ones I’ve used and liked are CLE progressive series (you can find a free pdf of this and the answers online if you look hard enough—I prefer paper books), and Practice Makes Perfect. You can assign drills based on what’s being studied in the class. Or ask the WTMa teacher what they recomend. I’ve found entire grades’ curriculum online for French but teachers have particular resources they favor. 

Edited by madteaparty
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20 hours ago, momchiroto2 said:

He is studying French through an online class (WTMA). He is specifically struggling with the grammar. He is doing well with learning the vocabulary etc..

So I have a language learning story. When I first took Russian in high school, I totally flunked it. Technically I didn't, but the course is cumulative enough that there was no way I was well prepared to go on to 2nd year. Now it's true we were using a college textbook and going at college pace (which I didn't realize) but a lot of it was learning HOW I learned. I stole the textbook, studied over the summer, and finally learned how I learned. After that, I was fine. I went on to minor in it, go to Russia for a summer, blah blah. I also took some other languages (french, a little german, etc.) and lots of linguistics classes that had us learning arabic using field methods, etc. 

So no matter how the year goes down, get him the materials (or a different textbook that he finds easier to learn from) and give him the chance to beat his demons. Learning how he learns and how he answers his questions and figures it out IS the lesson.

As far as the grammar, you can google and find some resources that compare english and french grammar. You can also get resources like verb dictionaries that have all the forms conjugated so he can see it happening. He may need some resources like this. He may need some help or time to learn how to make charts till the grammar makes sense to him. Sometimes the act of ORGANIZING the grammar into charts can make a huge difference. He should do this until it begins to make sense. He can read every page of those charts aloud each night. That's what I did. I needed to write it, read it, form sentences with every word, every pronoun, every tense. I was basically overteaching myself.

More things he can be doing? 

-Talk with his teacher!!!! Has he done this? Not you, him. Learning how to ask the prof questions is so important. 

-Does the textbook have online resources? Even if they require a subscription code, they might be worth it.

-Is the way the WTMA teacher teaching developmentally appropriate? I'm not in the loop on those classes, so I'm not being specific. I just notice in general sometimes online classes are trying to be college level, using college texts, college pacing, etc. It's not a crime for someone to want high school texts and high school pacing. A high school level class in foreign language should have some cultural components that cover up and smooth over the difficulty they're having the first year. 

-Hire a tutor. If you can't find one locally, you definitely can online. If he's using a standard text, they may be willing to use his to finish out the year. Or they may have one they use so that he could use a tutor over the summer to get back on track.

                                            Complete Guide to Conjugating 12000 French Verbs (English Edition)                                     

                                            French Verb Conjugations (Quick Study Academic) (French Edition)                                     

                                            601 French Verbs (601 Verbs) (French and English Edition)                                       Haha, I just found the old 501 Verbs book we used. But here you go, 601.

Really, the grammar he's doing this first year *should* be pretty straight forward. You might see whether what's getting him is something that is different from english with the pronouns or word order or what. He may need to write things out and READ THEM ALOUD over and over. If he can make some model sentences and nail them, he's probably going to be fine. Draw little pictures to go with each model sentence and read the sentence and visualize the scene. Act it out. 

He might also want to get some very simple children's books (picture books) that have audio of Muzzy (yes!!!!), any simple video with the close captioning on, and see if it builds his confidence. If he stays at that preschool level material, they're likely to be using the things he's learning (colors, my name is, household objects, etre, etc.).

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  • 5 months later...
Guest jonhgaarg

I like watching movies with subtitles and reading a book, while having an copy in my native language. Thus, you can find a lot of slang and contextual translation.

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