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My child does go to school, but I would like to teach her English at home

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 


We are living in France, and my child does go to school here. I admit, French school is pretty child unfriendly, but my daughter really likes going to school and doesn't even want to change her school for something less rigid.

My problem, is that although they learn English, it is very minimal.  My daughter speaks English very well, but she needs to start learning to write and read in it more.  She can read in both languages, but does very little writing in English.  There are programs here, but it is costly and I think I am up to the task to teach her anyhow. Why should I enroll her for 3 hours a week extra, which limits her time to do other activities (things more artistic, which there is little of at her present school)?

While she does well at school, she hates working at home, there is almost always a drama, before she will finally practice her instrument, and I am not handling this so well!  How can I get her to be more interested in doing work when not at school?

Most importantly, where can I find a curriculum to follow, how do I know what words she needs to be able to spell, how do I know how much she should be writing in English at her age?  She is 8, by the way.

post #2 of 19

I would think just reading in English would be all that she "needs" since you say she speaks well. She will see the words spelled correctly and the differences in grammar while reading fun stories. If she is writing in French in school, I don't see how writing in English would help enough to be worth having her spend time at home doing it. The languages aren't that different...

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks for your input.  It is true that the languages have the same alphabet, but I have to say from my perspective, French is very difficult!  I have failed to home school myself in it.  While it is nice that she speaks French, I think it is more useful for her to have very good English, which is why I want to try and keep her level up.  If she can't write, she might use it less and less as she ages, and lean more toward the French.

Ah well, I would like her to read more, but she doesn't have the bug as much as I do.

post #4 of 19

Try reading TO her. The main thing is for her to associate reading as being a pleasurable activity rather than a chore. I still read to my ds every night...

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Oh, I do read to her every night.  I think, this is the problem, it is easier to be read to, and she says she is too tired to do it herself...she made me edit that.

post #6 of 19

She is only 8 and in school all day. Having you read to her is still valuable for building her love of books. Making her read books in English on top of a full day of school isn't likely going to lead to a love of reading as easily. Hearing varied English language sentence structure and vocabulary through your reading to her is very beneficial. Love of it needs to come first. Then, she'll pay attention to things like spelling when it becomes important to her.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Well, I know she loves English, because she says so...and that comes out sometimes for no reason...she just says it.  Hopefully, she will love writing it eventually.  Wednesdays are a day off for younger children here, so at least she has that day to rest, besides the weekends.  

So, are you saying that homeschooling is just about leaving the kid to school themselves when they are interested, because I'm wondering what will happen if she doesn't get interested? 

post #8 of 19

It's not uncommon for "heritage speakers" to resist formal work, or even using the target language, at home. And I'd assume the French schools are working her pretty hard.


She will need formal work at some point, though. Speaking and writing (especially mastering English's complicated spelling and phonetics, which are not as straightforward as French's) are different from reading and listening, which can be acquired passively. There is a very real phenomenon of students who understand everything, can make themselves understood, but have very shaky grammar and predictable lacunae in their understanding of how the language is structured, and how to use it like an educated person. For instance, in Russian, many endings sound alike, or almost alike, but are spelled differently. A heritage speaker may know how something should sound, but not the spelling, or grammatical structure behind it. (The English equivalent might be the mangled things seen on the internet: doggy dog world, for instance.)


Fwiw, all of the well-educated French people I know have lovely English, without the advantage of a native speaker at home. I'd assume at some point she'll get it at school, no?


That said, it would be a service to her *at some point* to give her some formal instruction so that she doesn't acquire incorrect patterns, which can be very difficult to undo as an adult. If she's fighting you right now, it might not be the right time (maybe she needs more reading aloud to cement English patters before she works herself, maybe she is at a point with French where she needs to concentrate there), or it might not be the right method, or it might be one of the things that in fact is better to farm out to someone who can target exactly what her learning needs are. If you do try, I'd do more informal, fun things--do a treasure hunt in the house, find an American pen pal for her, that kind of thing.


And keep formal work very short at first if she does open up. A targeted five minutes. Many of our friends love Editor in Chief, which is less taxing, less intimidating than writing because it's just finding mistakes in a paragraph, but it gives some understanding of grammar. A paragraph of that is five minutes, once she is reading comfortably.



post #9 of 19

Oh! One more idea. Short books. Gorgeous picture books. Poems, if she likes poems. (Red Sings From Treetops is gorgeous.) DK or Eyewitness books about something she is interested in.


And meanwhile maybe yourself reading a few books about language acquisition and development and English structure so you can give her two sentences on why something is spelled the way it is. "Oh, when you write love at the end of your letter, add an E at the end. V at the end of a word always has E after. Some people remember that is so the V doesn't fall over." If she's interested, you could point out differences between French and English, how we have several different ways to use the present vs. just one in French, and which does she like better?


Sometimes DS prefers the three minutes of formal work, and sometimes he prefers NO formal work, but doesn't mind learning in context.




post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by bougivalbaby View Post

Well, I know she loves English, because she says so...and that comes out sometimes for no reason...she just says it.  Hopefully, she will love writing it eventually.  Wednesdays are a day off for younger children here, so at least she has that day to rest, besides the weekends.  

So, are you saying that homeschooling is just about leaving the kid to school themselves when they are interested, because I'm wondering what will happen if she doesn't get interested? 

Why would she not get interested if left to her own devises? She loves English:-)


There are many different styles of homeschooling. I do tend towards one that does encourage kids to be self directed and choose when and how they would like to learn. 

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you both, for your thoughts.  Although she likes poems, they have kids memorize them here, and recite them in class.  She never does this perfectly, which really bothers her.  I understand that it is a good exercise for the brain to memorize, but since I have the same problem with my memory, I can understand her frustration with the poesie.

She is not particularly fighting me on learning English, she just doesn't want to do any work at home, even the flute, which she thinks she will learn to play without practicing.  She only has to do that for 5 minutes, and I have really had to put my foot down about it.  I get frustrated trying to get her to memorize her times tables.  

I do not know this "Editor in Chief"...I'll look it up.  Not much will get done today though, as she has a fever and I am very stressed about it.

post #12 of 19

I hope she gets well quickly!

post #13 of 19

Is there any possibility of her getting an American or British pen pal or even an e-mail pal?  Do you have family in the states or Britain who she could write?

post #14 of 19


Edited by MamaOutThere - 1/14/14 at 6:16am
post #15 of 19

I am in your exact position but my children are younger. I live in a foreign country and my kids go to local schools part time. The oldest one, who is a rising 1st grader needs to learn to read and write in English. So I am teaching him that.  Have you thought about using Headsprout for her reading and time4writing for her writing? I have to say I have not used either of these products but from what I have gathered, people are pleased with them.


Personally, I use Reading Eggs and my son is very happy with it and loves doing it. I really enjoy helping him do it as well.  Maybe you could check it out? There are plenty of coupon codes to give you free trials. I started with a two weeks free trial and I was able to extend that for a month before subscribing. There is a section for kids from ages 4 -7 and another from ages 7-12 (all within one program). I think trying out the second section for your DD is probably a good idea. 

post #16 of 19

I wanted to add:  I hope your daughter is feeling better and that the fever was nothing serious.  Also, eight is hard!  The child is going through the 9 year-old change (as per Rudolf Steiner) and parenting becomes tough for a while.  It does get better.  It sounds like she might need a more predictable rhythm in her day that incorporates that flute practice -- perhaps a visual chart that is watercolored.  My twelve year-old gave up guitar at that age, though, so I'm really no expert on putting my foot down about practice.  I think personality has a lot to do with it.  My six year-old practices her violin with no prompting at all from me besides the occasional reminder -- which is met with a lovely "okay, mama!"  So different!

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you all, Ladies for your input.

My daughter had strep-throat, then my husband was ill, then we had a visitor, so that is why I haven't got back to you.  I did read all the posts, though, and the personal experiences were very reassuring!  

We have had the results of the evaluations nationale, and while I thought the test was very easy, my daughter seems to know what she is supposed to in France.  I will try to get her to read more on her own, and perhaps interest her in writing, by exchanges with people, but in my own experience, these exchanges are hard to maintain.

With the flute, it is a matter of getting over a hump of inability, so that she can finally enjoy playing.  She seems better with the practice, although it remains difficult some days.

She is eager to please her teachers more than me, for some reason, so in this sense, I think she is better in school, but I think I can cope with the English lessons.  I must just get more organized and into it...

Thanks Again!

post #18 of 19

So you were originally looking for a curriculum of some sort, right? Something to help you teach spelling and possibly grammar? I think All About Spelling would be great for teaching English spelling in your situation. You probably wouldn't need all the bells and whistles (the phonogram tiles are probably not necessary for you - they're just made of cardstock anyway). It only takes 15 to 20 minutes per day and it's very thorough.


Grammar you could put off for a while, I think. 8 is still young and most grammar is relatively intuitive, although I agree with domesticidyll that some things are harder to pick up just through listening, and that applies even to people who live in English-speaking nations and only speak English. For instance, have you ever noticed how many people type things like "could of" or "would of" instead of "could have" or "would have".  For example, "I would of gone with you if I'd known you needed help." That makes NO sense at all, and anyone with the most basic understanding of English grammar can explain why we are actually saying "would HAVE" (or "would've) and not "would OF". Nevertheless, I see native English speakers typing "would of" and the like on a regular basis. Sure, many people will pick that up on their own, but many will not, and that's just not the sort of mistake that is easily overlooked in print. For reasons like that, I do think a little grammar instruction is important for most people, at some point.

post #19 of 19

I wanted to second All About Spelling. . . we really like it here.  http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-spelling  However, I do recommend the tiles in your case because we were able to turn it into a game of sorts and my kids always enjoyed it.  


I second holding off on grammar for another year or so.  I start formal grammar in fourth grade (9 years).  We really like using Easy Grammar.  http://www.easygrammar.com/eg4.html  It also only takes about 15 minutes a day.


Regarding Editor in Chief. . . we didn't like it at all.  MY kids needed more formal grammar instruction before they were able to be successful with it.  



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