How do I get my child to speak more French?

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By Mary Clements

Regular speaking practice in your second language is key for success. It leads to improvements specifically in:

  • Vocabulary acquisition
  • Grammatical accuracy
  • Pronunciation
  • Confidence in using the language
  • Better cultural understanding

This week our awesome book writer and teacher, Juana’s assignment was to answer the question that we hear from parents all the time, “How do I get my child to speak more French?”

Juana’s ideas for helping your child speak more French!

If you live in a predominantly English speaking area, it can be difficult to find ways for your child to practice French outside of school. Below I have assembled some tips for just this as it is regular and diverse speaking opportunities that are going to help your child succeed in their second language.

1. Use Scripted Conversations

One of the main difficulties that students find when asked to “just talk” in French is they do not know what to say. Scripted conversations are a way for them to practice their knowledge of a subject, i.e. vocabulary or sentence structure, while getting some ideas on what real conversations may look like. One of the most common examples of scripted conversation is our french greetings. Here are some scripted dialogues you can access at home. Scripted conversations can also help students get an idea of what to say and how to act in other daily life situations. If they have practiced them well enough, they can use sentences and expressions from these scripts to chat their way through everyday conversations.

2. Try role-playing real life scenarios

While the theatre can be a place where we create wondrous and fantastical stories, it is also great to practice what real life conversations can be like. Want to know what to say at a café, a store or even a pet shop in France? Try a role-play of the situation and see what happens! Whether they are following a script, creating their own, or improvising, having the opportunity to get in a role and practice their language skills can be a confidence booster for even the shyest of learners.

3. Turn up the drama!

While practicing polite and common conversations is essential to many learners, role-plays can also be a great place to create funny or uncommon situations, as stories in theatre often occur around a problem that needs solving. This helps students learn how to explore a range of emotions while also learning the vocabulary to express them in a second-language. Playing roles that get into a conflict can also allow students to think of creative solutions and to incorporate emotion into the language, which helps their confidence as well. Lastly, being able to use humour in a second language is is a real flex of their second language muscles!

Whether it’s in our Online March Break Camp, our French Learning Circle, or even our Individual Tutoring Program, these are all strategies we incorporate to make language learning come alive for our students so that they can see it’s real life applications. Seeing the real life opportunity of their second language learning is something that adds context and purpose as to why they are putting in extra effort everyday to acquire their second language and can provide additional motivation during challenging times (that we all face at one point or another during our language learning journey!) Happy French learning!