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#1 of 8 Old 10-05-2010, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If your child started a language immersion program not knowing any of the language how long did it take for them to "turn the corner" or "get over the hump" so to speak?

We are an anglophone family with minimal french. Our oldest is attending french school. It's actually a special class for kids who don't know enough french to attend regular classes yet, and so it's mostly immigrants.

DD is six. The class is a combined grade 1 and grade 2. DD claims that all of the other kids know more french than she does. She will not answer questions or speak on her own to the teachers. She will recite things as part of a group though.

I know that she is making progress, but we got a report home yesterday that said she is having a lot of difficulty adapting and participating. It also said that she is having a lot of difficulty with organization, which I assume is because she doesn't understand exactly what is expected.

None of this surprises me. DD didn't talk much at school last year. She had lots of friends, but didn't speak up in class a lot. She's also the kind of kid who is very conscious of what she doesn't know, and who will observe until she feels she can so something well.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#2 of 8 Old 10-05-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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It took DS went in with no Spanish and took about 6 weeks to really start using the language. He' naturally very outgoing and chatty. Many kids already knew some Spanish and started contributing earlier but there were also others who were more reserved and thus took longer to start participating in class. It's still early and like you said, she's naturally quiet in class. It may just take her a little more time.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#3 of 8 Old 10-05-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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Dd went into immersion school at the 3-yo level (the school is 3 yo's through 12th grade), so she integrated seamlessly and became completely fluent over the first couple, three years. However, for kids who started in Kindergarten, according to what I heard from parents and teachers, it took them until the Winter break (Christmas) to really know what was going on and be able to communicate. So, I'd say give it at least another couple of months.
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#4 of 8 Old 10-05-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ChetMC View Post
It's actually a special class for kids who don't know enough french to attend regular classes yet, and so it's mostly immigrants. ... DD claims that all of the other kids know more french than she does.
She may or may not be right. Some of the children may live on streets that are mostly frankophone, and so get more exposure. Or they may have older sibs who know more french. Or they may be from families whose mother tongue is neither French or English, so the whole family is learning
French in a more intense way than is necessary for a family that speaks English.

Do you guys practice speaking French at all at home? Could you hire a french babysitter/mother's helper to work with her one-on-one to help build her confidence?

My DH's company has offices in Quebec and the states and I've watched kids move both ways. The younger the child, the easier it is. A kindergarten can be adjusted by Christmas, and an older elementary pretty much after a year (but not completely on par with all school work).

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 8 Old 10-05-2010, 11:07 PM
 
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Like you dh and I are anglophones living in Montreal. Dd started at francophone school (not a special class, but one in which the majority of students were allophones) without previously knowing more than a few words of French. She was a couple weeks shy of 4 at the time. The first month was definitely rough. A combo of never having been away from us (she never went to daycare or preschool), and not really understanding what was going on around her at school. After the first month things got progressively better quite quickly. By December she was totally comfortable chatting away in French, and understood everything that was going on in the classroom, on tv, in daily life, etc.

I agree with pp's who suggest to up the amount of French at home if you can. Read French story books. Have simple conversations in French, esp centered around things that are relevant in the classroom like whatever topics they're studying: apple picking, weather, whatever, and also phrases she'll need to practice like asking to go to the bathroom etc. If you aren't screen-free then tune her in to TeleQuebec or rent episodes of Passe Partout.

ETA I just re-read your OP and realized that you guys have minimal French. If you have the time and money get one or both of you enrolled in some french language classes! And don't be shy to try out what french you do have striking up conversations with other parents at the park or what have you. It's pretty amazing, my dd is 6 and in premiere annee and I'm learning right along with her. We just started a new chapter book in french (something about magic unicorns) and first I read through a chapter, write down the few words I don't know, then I look up the definitions, and then later on I read that chapter to dd. It's helping my vocab quite a bit, and reading out loud (and there are some serious multisyllabic words in there) is excellent practice.

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#6 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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Christmas is well within normal. I was coming from an extremely anglophone family (American) when I went into FI and I made many of the same statements, but by about Feb it was no problem.

It's fine to up the french at home but I also think just giving your child time to recover and support is key.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#7 of 8 Old 10-07-2010, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for all of the replies.

I'd always heard to wait until at least Christmas, but the report from school surprised us a bit. It made it sound like DD was struggling in an unexpected way. I was worried that Thanksgiving was the new Christmas. Or.. sorry we're in Canada... that Columbus Day is the new Christmas.

I have thought about getting a French mother's helper or tutor for our younger kids. It isn't really an option for our oldest though. She gets up at 7:30am, leaves the house just after 8am, gets home at 5pm, and has two and a half hours for supper, playing, bedtime stories, etc. This is not ideal at all, but it's only this year while she is in Welcome Class.

I do see her making steady progress. I guess I was a little surprised too that the school didn't notice how far she had come, only how much she still needed to improve.

Thanks again.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#8 of 8 Old 10-07-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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I was worried that Thanksgiving was the new Christmas. Or.. sorry we're in Canada... that Columbus Day is the new Christmas.
they have Thanksgiving up there -- it's just earlier. (may be that's the problem )

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She gets up at 7:30am, leaves the house just after 8am, gets home at 5pm, and has two and a half hours for supper, playing, bedtime stories, etc. This is not ideal at all, but it's only this year while she is in Welcome Class.
holy cow! She must be really tired. On the plus side, she will be speaking fluent French at the end of the school year (if not sooner) and that's something she will have for her whole life. It's really a wonderful opportunity for her, even though it is difficult right now.

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I guess I was a little surprised too that the school didn't notice how far she had come, only how much she still needed to improve.
may be they just focus on the negative. Some teachers are like that.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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