French - is fluency possible homeschooling/unschooling? - Mothering Forums
Unschooling > French - is fluency possible homeschooling/unschooling?
bricoleuse's Avatar bricoleuse 08:29 PM 04-01-2011

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moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 12:35 AM 04-02-2011


Originally Posted by bricoleuse View Post

I feel that the push to learn French is undermining the lifestyle I hoped homeschooling would give us, and I know that it is undermining my relationship with my children since it is hard to motivate them to do the structured work necessary to learn the language.  I flinch at the thought of the replies this honesty will bring on an unschooling board, but I am open to all comments and criticism at this point.  

Is there any chance your family could holiday in a francophone community in Quebec for a couple of weeks each year? If you want oral fluency, language immersion rather than structured work is probably more efficient -- and less costly to your relationship. I just got back from Montreal and I'm amazed how much even a few short days of hearing the language and bumbling along in it allowed me to remember and my daughter to pick up.


Do your kids see the value in maintaining and growing their facility in French? Could you brainstorm other ways to make it work as a family? Would they agree to dinners in French? Saturdays in French? DVD movies in French? Family board games in French every Friday night? 


I know a mom who homeschooled her boys using an unschooling approach for everything but math ... and math was done in French using a French curriculum even though the kids were 99.5% anglophone when they started. It worked beautifully for them : 30-45 minutes a day using French to do the math work, listen, explain, clarify, ask questions, converse about the work. Maybe that's another option....


I live in an entirely anglophone community in rural BC. I would have loved to find a way to give my unschooled kids some French but we simply don't have the community resources and I'm nowhere close to fluent myself. I had to let go of my dreams. It sounds like you are much better equipped, though: kids with some French already, and fluent yourself. 



Best wishes!



purslaine's Avatar purslaine 07:06 AM 04-02-2011



Do you speak French?  


My own take on this is thus:


If you want your kids to speak French, speak French in the home if you have that ability.  The most bilingual people I know (and I know a lot - I originally come from Quebec) have one parent that speaks to them almost exclusively in the other language.  I do not think your kids can protest much if you do this - after all, you do have the right to speak in whichever language you choose.


Otherwise, you can try the following:

-French radio in the car

-if you limit screens, allow one or 2 TV shows in something easy to follow in French (perhaps something where they already know the storyline in English?)


good luck





Tigeresse's Avatar Tigeresse 09:15 AM 04-02-2011
That's what I would do. I would just start speaking French to them.

I am one of those relaxed moms who has also had a deep attachment to having my kids learn a foreign language, and even bought a bunch of French stuff to do in the home (I am not fluent though). My older kids didn't really go for it, so it pretty much fell by the wayside. My oldest is now taking Spanish at the CC, which it looks like 2nd oldest will be doing as well.

My youngest, though, is Chinese, born in China. My desire to keep some level of connection with her heritage prompted me to revisit my more unschooly approach wrt to language, as she most definitely does not see the reasoning behind my desire for her to learn Mandarin. After much trial and error, we finally found an immersion program that she enjoys which has also given her relationships with adult, native speakers from China and Taiwan...people of her own heritage. Through her exposure to Mandarin, her older brother has taken to the language and also is learning Mandarin. It has turned out, despite some stumbling blocks, to have been a worthwhile pursuit even if it came from me and my "adult" reasons for wanting dd to do it. I can only imagine how much easier it would have been if I had been fluent and could just start speaking the 2nd language to my kids.

isabchi's Avatar isabchi 09:52 AM 04-02-2011

We're bilingual (Spanish) and unschooling. Spanish is my first language, second is English and third Portugues (read well, speak not perfect but I can communicate with not mayor inconvenience and can't to write well though), alsoI understand and read Italian and a little bit of French.

My kids are inmerse in a multilanguage inviroment. We encourage to speak read and write Spanish because English is their first language. They're very aware that different people around the world speaks different language and they have the desire to undestand them. Now, my oldest(5) is Bilingual (English_Spansih). Also, She's very interesting in sing children songs in Portugues. She use You Tube and close caption in movies.

bricoleuse's Avatar bricoleuse 03:12 PM 04-02-2011

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Piglet68's Avatar Piglet68 03:56 PM 04-02-2011

Absolutely. Babies learn to speak long before they can deconstruct the grammar of a sentence. Forget the grammar lessons and just speak french at home. What a wonderful gift for your kids!


My husband speaks Croatian and, when he was doing a stint as SAHD my DD (then 18 months) understood a great deal and could speak a few words, too. Sadly he went back to work out of the home (well that part was good, lol) but it meant no more daily language exposure for DD. 


We are planning to spend some time in Croatia when we can. My niece went when she was 7, stayed for 2 months, and came back fluent.

purslaine's Avatar purslaine 06:22 AM 04-04-2011

This might interest some people - it actually seems to have a large bursary portion, so the cost will be minimal.  It is Canadian:

bricoleuse's Avatar bricoleuse 08:17 AM 04-04-2011

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sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 05:51 PM 04-04-2011

You should read some books on raising bilingual children. Having a motivated native-speaker parent in each target language is just about the best way to grow up bilingual.

JuniperBCN's Avatar JuniperBCN 01:46 AM 04-05-2011

We're trilingual in a bilingual environment.... English is my native language and our minority language.  I've used it with my kids since birth and have worked pretty hard to create a sort of "English bubble" in our house.  We have a ton of movies, books, music and and are starting to acquire board games as well, all in English.  I have tried to include books that are not just fiction, but also ones for consulting or fun (like I Spy).  The kids also have access to a lot of stuff on the internet in English.  A lot of our DVDs have been downloaded from the internet and do not offer language selection.... this wasn't intentional, but it does eliminate any discussion over what language to watch stuff in.  There's a bunch of cool stuff that comes out France, so it shouldn't be too hard to get high interest programming.  If you need recommendations of what to look for, maybe you could try on the France section of finding your tribe here.


A friend here whose situation is comparable with yours (fluent in English but not her language), started speaking English only to her youngest (now 2 years) early on.  She slides in and out with the older two, but has brought a lot of material into the house like what's mentioned above.  They also spend a lot of time in the car where she has audio books and music.  She looks for possibilities to spends time with other English speakers (not so easy as she lives in a rural area), but seems that to be working out well for all three kids.


I have another set of friends who routinely bring in au pairs.  Their girls are pretty fluent in English now and the family is now adding French this summer.  They do control media and only allow their girls to do screen time in English or French.


I think the idea of doing certain things in the target language is helpful if your kids are interested and MUCH more useful then trying to look at language out of context.  I tutor English and really wish I could get parents to understand that I could help their kids soooo much more with language if I could just go out and do scooter tricks, make cookies, do science experiments and play video games, etc. in English.

bricoleuse's Avatar bricoleuse 07:59 AM 04-05-2011

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JuniperBCN's Avatar JuniperBCN 03:22 PM 04-05-2011

Another thing you can look at is how you bring French into your days and how you maintain your language.  Is it fun and interesting?  Is it visible?  Is it useful?


And it's sort of funny, but nobody has brought up what your kids' interest in French is? 

bricoleuse's Avatar bricoleuse 03:30 PM 04-05-2011

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accountclosed2's Avatar accountclosed2 12:21 AM 04-15-2011
In my experience, pushing a language is likely to backfire. English isn't my mother-tongue, but there is a group here speaking that language, and they have a playgroup, and what is supposed to be a fun language learning group for older kids. I was involved with this group before DD came along, but we dropped out, as I didn't agree that it was "fun" (exercise books), and in my opinion, this was the reason why most of the older kids (over 8!) were dropping out, outright refusing to go and refusing to speak the language at all. But I know that they were pushed to work on grammar etc, as the mothers felt they needed the base to be able to use the language. Late last year the group fell apart, as too few of the kids will go anymore (the teacher's kids, who did not have a choice).

I'm hoping to keep up DD's interest by reading stories and watching films, listening to music and talking and singing in my language. I'm also introducing Spanish (I learnt Spanish), we're reading books in Spanish now, and listening to songs on tape. She's quite into language, and loves books, so that helps.

We're probably not unschoolers entirely, but quite unschooly.