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? re foreign language study angst

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We're in Ontario where gr 9 French is a requirement in school. Because I've always tried to cover at least similar content to the high school diploma requirements, I've worked on covering this minimum of French with my kids. My oldest, as it turned out, completed his gr 12 year at a local Christian high school, and I was glad we had covered French so that he did not have to pick it up in his final year. Same goes now for son #2, who plans to attend the same school next year for his gr 12, and for son #3, currently in gr 9. My problem? Endless weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (theirs, not mine) over learning French. Having grown up in Quebec, I'm not fluently bilingual but close enough for this level of study. These boys, however, cannot seem to retain much beyond the barest minimum of the material. I don't know how many years we have covered such basics as present tense conjugations of "etre" and "avoir" and they *still* hesitate, stumble, or just plain give up when translating the simplest sentence form. We review together; they are supposed to review on their own too (hah!) but they seem to retain so little. They protest, of course, that they will *never* use French again and will forget everything once we stop covering it, so why bother? My only response at this point is that they need to have it if they hope to receive a high school diploma (never mind the intrinsic value of learning another language....) The stress over this particular subject is driving me around the bend. It seems pretty obvious to me that some consistent study on their part would yield better results, but how to I get them to apply themselves with a better attitude? Or should I just give up, give in, and allow Inspector Clouseau-style French accents (very popular in my house) to pass as a credit?

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I'll share some from my homeschooling experience with foreign language and with Rosetta Stone. I've got two older children (ds and dd) and a youngest ds with autism. All of them did/are doing Spanish in high school, using BJUP for Spanish 1 and 2; the two older children used a different program for Spanish 3.


Oldest ds loved Spanish in high school, and continued to love Spanish in college. Dd hated Spanish (still does), but fell in love with Japanese in college and may at least minor, if not double-major, in it. Youngest ds is tolerating Spanish, neither hating nor loving it. My point: Sometimes a like or dislike of a language might be inherent in the language itself.


Both older children tried Rosetta Stone, and both actively disliked it. It was unsuited to their learning styles and, without draconian measures, I couldn't get them to use it consistently. My point: Sometimes the problem is not the language; sometimes it's the program. You're using Rosetta Stone; perhaps it's not the best program for your kids.


The youngest ds (with autism) is currently in a homeschool class using BJUP's Spanish 2. I took a year of Spanish last year at one of our local community colleges in order to be able to help him. (My college language was French.) He'll do the work, but he doesn't know how to study. To try to help him study, I subscribed as an instructor to Quia, and I'm using it to make simple computer activities to drill his vocabulary and grammar. (IMHO, there isn't enough practice in most high school level language programs.) My point: Is there some way that you can give them different ways to study the language? French in Action has already been mentioned.


Just some random thoughts, but HTH!

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Stacey, I've torn my hair out about what to do about foreign language here throughout our entire homeschooling career. In those early elementary years, my dreams of doing Latin went straight out the window because all my energies were poured into one child's learning disabilities (which took me several years to figure out!) coupled with same child's attitude issues (extremely strong will and hating of doing school or anthing that feels "imposed" on him -- which also took several years to bring to heel).


Fast forward to middle school, and I'm thinking Spanish as something that makes sense as we have a lot of Latinos in this area, and it's really an easy language to pick up, plus I had 4 years of in high school so I have familiarity. But, both The Learnables, and then Rosetta Stone were a bust -- neither boy interested in the language, nor that type of language learning technique.


Now in high school, and at the start of this year I had a major epiphany: I will outsource! It's not going to be my problem, but theirs -- they will be accountable to someone else. So in their junior and senior years, they will pick a language -- and then sign up and take it from the local community college. I can't tell you how freeing this is! It's a requirement for high school graduation/college entry, it will be a chance to "get their feet wet" in the "real world" of schooling, and an opportunity to take responsibility (or learn how to deal with failure) while it still doesn't much matter. A single CC semester = 1 year of high school language, so if we get started in their junior year, we have wiggle room before graduation for possible overload/having to withdraw, class failure, change of mind on language, etc. Most of all -- the stress of it is off of my shoulders, and on theirs, where it belongs. :D



We'll see how this actually plays out in the autumn! BEST of luck in finding a workable solution for your household! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I don't know your budget, but if there is a maternal tongue student around who could come and play games, cook, etc with them only speaking French, maybe you get them to like it better and learn the basics.


Help Your Child Learn a Foreign Language by Opal Dunn has lots of good ideas. They're only .01 cents now. Then she sold some language kits that had games and common expressions called Speak More French.




Now I admit that this seems too basic for 9th grade, but if you can get them past the mental block, maybe they'll be able to go further....


If you are in Canada, does your library have media materials in French? We got out all kinds of nature, travel, etc etc videos, story tapes in French, science videos (do you know the C'est pas sorcier series? It is a scientist showing all kinds of scientific principles/experiments showing that they are not magic).




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A couple of years ago, I did have a tutor, and they somehow ended up knowing less after a year of that than previously :tongue_smilie: I've looked at the French in Action videos a couple of times in the past, but for some reason, most of the time they will not open/ download properly for me. And then there's the time factor--the days are just eaten up by math, science, English. Because of their lack of enthusiasm for any foreign language, and the fact that we *just have to make it through this one year of French*, it doesn't seem worth beating my head against a wall for this.


Odd,though-- I always loved studying languages. And grammar. And math. Were all of these boys switched at birth?

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Because we are right on the border of Ontario and Quebec, our kids hear a lot of French. They know that when they go to almost any public event, they'll hear both. They've also learned that sometimes the English bits are not exactly the same as the French bits, and sometimes it's interesting or funny to hear the difference. They also know that they will bump into people who don't speak English well enough. Both of these things have been real motivators for my kids. (I remember that my daughter really liked a French-speaking girl in her choir, and sometimes she had to enlist another girl in French immersion in school to act as a translator for them.) However, it sounds like you don't have the same motivation where you live. It also seems to me that we don't have the same "you've got to have a foreign language" requirement for post-secondary education here, so that's not a motivator. Some day they'll wish they had better French, and perhaps then they'll get motivated to study it. Where we live, it's easy for adults to take evening classes to learn French.

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