So dd2 is in grade one french immersion. She thinks school is ok, but pretty much is living for gym, library and recess. If the subject of french comes up, she complains bitterly & insists she does not want to go to french next year. She turns down french books, games, and movies. If she was struggling I wouldn't hesitate to move her back to english - in fact, that's what we did with dd1. But the thing is, she's awesome at it. Shes top of her class, virtually everything comes home with As, reading harder french books than anyone in her class, reading in english despite not having any english instruction since jk, speaks beautifully and understands tons. Her teacher says the only challenge she has with her is not using her work as the class example all the time. French is such an advantage to her when she grows up, that I'm not willing to move her if the material isn't too hard. And, my feeling is that she would complain about other seat work if french was off the table anyways.
So, I'm looking for ideas about how to make her more comfortable with being in french, and with school in general. I guess I can't make her love it, but there must be some way I can make it more palatable. Any thoughts? My only idea is to take her for a trip to Montreal this summer, and get her to do the talking for us as much as possible so she can see what a gift a second language is.
Is she a perfectionist? It could be the French provides her with real challenge unlike her other subjects. She may be great at it but she may also have to work a bit. She may not always be flawless at French like she is in English and that can be frustrating to a perfectionist.
It's also not unusual for kids in language immersion to resist using their language outside of school. My DS went through Spanish immersion with Mandarin enrichment. He has enjoyed learning the languages but he still hates having to read novels in Spanish... like I was mentioning above, the Spanish requires he actually think. He actually has to look up words occasionally. The rest of the school work he can do in his sleep and he sort of likes it that way. Honestly, if I hadn't helped out in the school, I'd not believe DS was actually fluent. I used my DS as an example but talk to other families. You will find that MOST immersion kids aren't interested in reading, watching, speaking in their new language at home. They do it all day in school and by 3, they are sort of done with it.
I'd actually back off French at home entirely. If she doesn't like to use it, don't ask her to. Trust that someday she'll be happy for the skill. If there is a problem with the other work being too easy, you can still advocate for accommodation. My DS still had differentiated curriculum and subject accelerations. Being extra good at languages helps in this regard.
Idk that i'd describe her as a perfectionist, but it certainly rings true that she is used to things not providing a challenge. She is pretty good at just about everything she tries, and if she isn't she drops it very quickly unless we really push her to follow through. She doesn't usually seem too frustrated, like you would if you'd been trying and trying and just couldn't do it - it's more of an 'oh well, too hard! Next!' kind of attitude. Repeating things to master them is very frustrating to her, even having to read the same book 2 nights in a row to improve mastery and get used to the harder words draws major "do I have to's " etc. She seems to have really unrealistic expectations of how quickly she should be learning stuff.
That said, she does speak french at home, all the time. Generally she either speaks french first, or provides simultaneous translation if she starts with english (even in her sleep lol - she yelled out "daddy! Im cold! Papa! J'ai Froid!" from her bed the other night). We look up words she doesnt know if she needs to say something she doesn't know how to. She doesn't want to have anything to do with french media, books or whatever, and we don't make her but we do suggest it from time to time. When I ask her why she doesn't like french, she says "because there's words I don't know". I think she's better than she knows - I just don't know how to get that through to her.
I went through french immersion, and there are three things you might look into that you haven't mentioned: Does the teacher speak the same dialect that is used in the teaching material? (That one can really add to the "words I don't know" problem.) Is the teacher pushing french as being superior to english? I'm not sure where you are, but if there are francophone communities nearby, do they speak the same dialect that she's being taught, or does she run into the problem of not being able to understand french out in the real world?
Reading french books and watching french tv always felt like homework, and the selection was much, much more limited too.
We live in Montreal, and though dh and I are anglophones dd goes to francophone school. She's in her 4th year now (grade 2 - she started in pre-k), and is totally bilingual. However, she never chooses to read in French at home, nor does she wish to watch movies in French. French (in her mind) is for school, swimming lessons, and for when she's hanging out at a francophone friend's house. I think it's totally normal. To encourage more reading in French I have picked up some books with particularly desirable subject matter and (ahem) given the impression that they are only available in french (like books about Pokemon... and unicorns...).
FWIW my dd sounds a lot like yours. Things usually come easy for her, and so she just isn't very interested in anything that doesn't come easy.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
Update - thx for the input! I was talking with a teacher who works with gifted kids, and they were saying that young gifted kids often are frustrated to the point of distraction when in an immersion program. They have big ideas and lots of questions, but they sound like babies when they talk and don't have the language for the complex ideas they need to get out. So maybe that's a bit of what's going on. I also think she doesn't recognize that she talks french all the time to us, so we've been trying to point out how lovely her french is. She picked a french book at the library the other day without any prompting from me, and took some french books on tape because they were out of the english ones altho she was disappointed about that. So maybe she's coming round. But, if I bring it up, she still goes on about how she hates it. Maybe next year when they do more english programing it will be a little easier, since she will have time in english to get all her thoughts out.