Petra Lingua Revisited

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Petra Lingua is our curriculum of choice for learning French. We read books in French and I talk to them in French in the afternoon, but we build vocabulary in a systematic way with Petra Lingua.

I have written before about this website: here and here. You can learn many languages, like German, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and even Swedish.

In the fall, when it became clear that my local homeschool community did not really have an interest in our French Play Group, I put Petra Lingua to the side and focused on reading to the kids in French. I also tried using French on a more consistent basis with them, in the afternoon.

Then life happened: the holidays in November and December; my father’s passing in January; the flu in February. While they lingered on the bed with no energy, I read to them a lot, but then I also put a laptop in front of them to see if they had any interest and energy for Petra Lingua French. They did!

Children studying with Petra Lingua

My children study French with Petra Lingua while having the flu

So much so, they fought over who to do the exercises. Continue reading »

 They brought the account we have with them from 25% accomplished to 40% and, a few days later, 50%. I was happy to see the progress, and then wondered if we could do this on a more consistent basis, say twice a week. When I grew up, we took French and English in school, starting in middle school. Every week, we had two hours of French and two hours of English. If you applied yourself, you could become an advanced speaker by the time you finished high school, and some of us did.

Children study French online

My children’s energy came back as they worked through the exercises on Petra Lingua

Petra Lingua is not very expensive, it is fun for young kids, and it provides lots of repetition to facilitate memorization. You can purchase it online or on CDs and DVDs. The mascot, a dog named Oiffy, is adorable. You can even get a hand puppet to use with your youngest audience.

They do offer me this software for free in exchange for an honest review. I am here to honestly tell you that this program works if you work it. My children sing along and remember words and phrases many weeks after the lessons. Here’s to consistency in teaching languages!


French Friday, Tu or Vous?

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Once and for all, let’s settle the discussion about the familiar “tu” or the formal “vous” in French. I found this witty flow-chart which will take you through all sorts of social situations.

You will find out how to address God in French, among other things. (You might be surprised…)

tu ou vous - french friday

Also, how to address your boss if you are upset with him and you want to let him know about it. (I would like to be a fly on the wall, provided your boss speaks French and you talk to him/her on a regular basis in French… Riiiight!….)

Continue reading »

Last but not least, how to address Le Petit Prince – a literal one, that is.

The author wrote Flirting With French – a book that promises to be deliciously funny. (Amazon affiliate link)

So much fun. Click over here and learn some French.


French Friday, Petra Lingua Review

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We love French in our homeschool. I have started teaching my children French on a regular basis this spring. We joined the Alliance Française of Knoxville, signed up for Popi, and watched Caillou on youtube. However, I felt the need for a systematic approach to learning French. Enter Petra LinguaContinue reading »

Full disclosure: they are one of my sponsors. But I would not be writing about this curriculum if I did not think it was great or if I did not use it with my children.

French learning for kids under 10 - Petra Lingua

French learning for kids under 10

So Petra Lingua is for younger elementary kids, say ages 3-10. However, if you are an adult who needs to study French and enjoy animation, this is a great product for you, as well. I would add that if you feel intimidated by language learning, you should definitely consider Petra Lingua. Their mascot, a cute doggy named Wuffy, will become your best buddy – while teaching you French.

I know my kids laugh every time he enters the screen. He makes an entrance in a different way every time.

The lessons contains songs, repetition, a chance for you to repeat back what the speaker said, as well as exercises to practice what you learned.

Also, you should know this product comes in two versions: an online version and a DVD kit, which offers a booklet with exercises and a music CD, as well as the DVD for the lessons. At the end of the 20 lessons, you will have learned 500 basic words in French and, hopefully, you will have gained some confidence toward more lessons.

They even have a lesson plan you can follow so that you know what to expect (or what to do) for each lesson.

The online product costs $4.99 per month for six months. How’s that for a bargain? You can do one lesson a week and be done in 20 weeks, with no stress and without breaking the bank. If you wanted the DVD kit, which also contains a Wuffy Dog Handpuppet and a set of playing cards to practice vocabulary, it is $75.

So it boils down to how good your internet connection is. I use this set to teach my French Play Group at the library and their connection is not so good on some days. The result? The songs get interrupted a lot as the laptop keeps buffering. I have learned to bring the DVDs instead.

My kids love Wuffy and they play with the handpuppet a lot. They sing the songs and request certain lessons just because they like them. For instance, my daughter really, really likes the Vegetables and Fruits – which happens to be available for free on their website. My son prefers the lesson about counting to 20 – things come in train cars and he loves trains.

If you want to watch the free lesson, go ahead and sign up. You will receive a code for 15% off when you do decide to purchase. How cool is that?

As we progress through these lessons, I will be back to tell you some more about them. Until then, au revoir!


French Friday, Allons Danser! Review

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For a couple of months now, the kids and I have been listening to Allons Danser! – a CD with French music for kids, produced by Whistlefritz. It has been such a great tool for my French Play Group, not just for my children. We use the Bonjour, Les Amis song to start the meeting and Au Revoir to close.  Continue reading »

At home, I play the entire CD as the children play and I cook or do some other housework. It’s the best background music. You know how music can influence your mood even if you don’t understand the words? Marie-Louise Desage’s crystal-clear voice gives me joy. And although I understand the words, the music makes me feel like I am on a beach vacation as I wipe kitchen counters or peel potatoes.

Allons Danser! CD cover

 

The Carribean-infused melodies, written by Didier Prossaird, go along well with summer time or any time of the year when you wish you could have summer back. In short, these songs put me in a good mood – a vacation mode. They are not just for the kids.

Here’s a listing of all the songs, with the vocabulary you can expect to learn and drill as you sing:

  1. Quand Je Serai Grand listen – When I grow up – job titles
  2. Bonjour Les Amis listen – Hello, friends – greetings and the weather
  3. Un, Deux et Trois listen – One, two, three – body parts and, obviously, counting to three
  4. Le Vieux MacDonald listen – Old McDonald – farm animals and their sounds
  5. La Danse des Mains listen – The dance of hands – place adverbs like up, down, to the side etc
  6. Ma Journée listen – My day – a daily schedule of meals and activities
  7. Le Bain listen – The bath – feet, water, tub, getting into the tub, it’s fun – an invitation to have fun with bubbles
  8. L’Heure de Ranger listen – Time to clean up – here, there, now, dusting, cleaning, sweeping, broom, duster
  9. Des Jouets listen – Toys – plane, flying, bicycle, pedaling, etc.
  10. La Barbichette listen – Goatee – to hold, ouch
  11. Il Pleut listen – It rains – umbrella, yes, no, dancing in the rain, big clouds are gray etc.
  12. Les Doigts listen – The fingers
  13. Y’a Pas de Fête Sans Gateau listen – No party without cake – gift, giving a gift, etc.
  14. Les Enfants Quand Ils Dansent listen – The children, when they dance –
  15. La Tête, Les Épaules listen – Head, shoulders – the same melody and vocabulary as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  16. Le Camion de Glace listen – Ice cream van – all the kids come out of the house when the ice cream van passes by
  17. La Grenouille Reinette listen – A frog named Reinette – whimsical and funny
  18. En Haut, En Bas listen – Up, down
  19. Les Petits Poissons listen – The little fishes – swimming, in the water, little, big, the same as
  20. Au Revoir listen – Goodbye – saying goodbye in different ways, the party is over, it’s time to say goodbye

We all memorize so much better if the words are set to music. This collection will be the perfect addition to your French class. We listen to it in the car, too. I am still amazed by how much I can retain just by listening to 15 minutes of French music a couple of times a week. If you, like me, are looking for ways to maximize learning throughout the day, you will appreciate this CD you can add to your car schooling supply list.

The CD booklet contains all the French lyrics, as well as a vocabulary list for each song. Thus, instead of paraphrasing so you get the gist of the song, Whistlefritz gives you word-by-word translations to help with your goal of learning French. How helpful is that? Any homeschooling mom who took some French and remembers some should be able to utilize this CD and help introduce her children to the sounds of the beautiful French language.

Allons Danser!  CD Booklet

The CD booklet provides the lyrics and their literal translation

My children break into song in French out of the blue, while playing or running around outside. Their pronunciation may not be all there and they may not understand everything they are saying, but it’s a start. Plus, it is a great opportunity for me to join them in song. Sometimes I exaggerate a bit the correct pronunciation so they can correct themselves. Other times I just sing and have fun along with them.

I highly recommend the Allons Danser! CD above any other language learning CDs I have bought – and I bought a few.

Disclaimer; I received a free copy of the product above in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. The Amazon links above are affiliate links. All opinions I have expressed here are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


French Friday – Our First Play Group

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A few days ago, I ran our first French Play Group according to Lesson Plan Numéro 1.

We had five children ranging from one to ten, two girls and three boys. One family traveled 45 minutes to attend and said they would be back.

Everybody behaved well. All the kids showed great interest in learning French. They made an effort to sing and pronounce the words when I asked them to.  Continue reading »

The Library moved us to a different meeting room and it actually worked for the better. They needed the larger, Burchfield Room, as an art studio for now, because they were busy painting large props for their upcoming Summer Reading Program workshops.

Two boys work on the laptop

Two of our students working the exercises on Petra Lingua

They gave us the Community Classroom – a smaller, more intimate setting, perfect for our purpose. The small quarters discourage running, roughhousing, and talking.

I placed the blocks in one corner, the Lincoln Logs in another, the Madeline puzzle on a table, and the felt board on another table. I encouraged the children to play while I set up the rest of the materials.

The Library sent their technology person to help me connect my laptop to the large screen in the room. We had a great atmosphere as I played Allons Dancer from Whistlefritz while the kids were playing and getting to know each other.

We start on time (that’s the plan, at least) and do not wait for stragglers. However, given our new location, I waited five extra minutes to make sure people had time to get their bearings and find us. It is a larger building – by small town standards.

We ran through the Bonjour song twice, then I read them the books. Petra Lingua was a hit – maybe because the kids loved operating the laptop and seeing their work projected onto the large roll-down screen.

They actually took turns doing the exercises over and over, which only gave them more practice.

We sang another song – Dans la forêt lointaine.

We barely had time for free play – which tells me we really need to start on time AND I need to read less books. No more than three books, I think. And, maybe, no extra song for now.

We sang our Au Revoir song twice and then we actually said “au revoir” to each other on the way out. On parle français déjà!

Later, I checked with the building manager and she agreed to move us into the Community Classroom from now through Aug 24, when we go to Bridgemont – another smaller, more intimate meeting room.

I am glad to be completely out of Burchfield, which is a huge room. I ran a LEGO Club in there two years ago and it just feels like you get lost in it, especially when you have less than 10 students.

Several of the families interested in our Play Group went to the Petting Zoo that day – a field trip they had planned for four months, long before I started the French Play Group. So we will have to repeat the lesson and that is just fine by me. Repetition is the mother of learning.

I did not mean to create a scheduling conflict, but I had to start somewhere and working with a Library gives you only so many options.

À bientôt!


French Friday – French Play Group Lesson Plan Numéro 1

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About two months ago, I had a burning desire to start a French Group. All the details have been worked out and, in a few days, we will have our first meeting. So, so exciting.

This is a post for all the parents bringing their children, but I thought it might inspire others, too.

 

Here’s the lesson plan for the first French Play Group:

1. Start with Bonjour, bonjour les amis, a song from the CD Whistlefritz, Allons Danser. I will have the kids sitting on the floor, girls on one side and boys on the other side. That’s to demonstrate the difference between masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives in French. Also, to be able to point at the girls when we say “copines” and to point at the boys when we say “copains.”

I will bring the CD and we will sing along twice. I am making up some hand motions.

You can listen to bits of the song on the Amazon link above, to get an idea. I have not found a youtube video for it. – 5 minutes

Whistlefritz French Learning Allons Danser CD

2. Read several books to them:  Continue reading »

a. L’Été – for simple vocabulary about summer time; Reading A-Z is a great source of French leveled books; our e. selection below is also from the same website

b. Popi magazine article – for the story about Petit Ours Brun – Moi, j’ai un copain – in the May 2014 issue

c. Popi magazine article – for the story called Coucou, bébé – in the June 2014 issue – to learn another way to say hi

d. Madeleine – it’s a rather difficult book for them at this stage, but they must be challenged a bit. Plus, Madeleine will be one of our French friends throughout the year and we must introduce her. Our end-of-the-year party, in May, will have a Madeleine theme, definitely. Maybe.

e. Chaud, froid – to reinforce the words for hot, cold, which are also found in our Bonjour song

Reading should take 10-12 minutes. Our children are young, but I hope they can make it. I don’t know them very well, either. So I will adjust. If they get antsy, I will keep one or two books for another time.

 

3. Sing “Dans la forêt lointaine.” I will bring a felt nature background with a faraway forest and I made two puppets, a cuckoo and an owl, to go with the song. We will go through it twice. – 5 minutes

 

4. PetraLingua.com French Lesson nr. 1 – Woofy, the Petra Lingua mascot, will teach us, hopefully in person. This is our curriculum for the year and we will do one lesson per meeting. I am expecting a package from them (they are in Croatia), which will have an actual stuffed animal Woofy – it’s a hand puppet. If it does not arrive by next week, we will have to make do with admiring him online. It will increase the anticipation for next time.

Petra Lingua - online languages for kids

The plan is to connect my laptop to the TV screen in the room. I will ask an older child or several to come and do the exercises on the laptop and then all can see it. 10 minutes

 

5. Free play time – bring toys that do not require batteries to “work,” please. – 20 minutes

I will bring wooden blocks, a Madeleine puzzle, a Lincoln Logs set and similar things. No video games, 3D Angry Birds or toy guns, please.

The kids will speak to each other in English for now. Those of us who speak French can play with them and point out a French word here and there.

 

6. Clean up – 5 minutes

 

7. Sing Au Revoir – twice, from the same Whistlefritz CD – 5 minutes.

 

I have saved several documents on our Sevier County Homeschoolers Facebook page: guidelines for the group; a calendar showing the meeting dates and rooms we will be using at the library throughout the year; the titles of our lessons for the year; and lyrics and vocabulary for the songs.

 

À bientôt!

 

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L’Alliance Française de Knoxville

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About a month ago, I took a more intentional approach toward teaching my children French in our homeschool. I started gathering resources to teach my children French.

Books and language lessons lay the foundation of mastering another language. Immersion and interaction with other speakers of French continue the process and solidify the vocabulary.

So I joined L’Alliance Française of Knoxville.

We attended two get-togethers already:

(1) Picnic and petanque tournament (pique-nique et tournoi de pétanque) at the Cove at Concord Park

(2) Immersion meal (table française) at the French-Belgian restaurant called “Northshore Brasserie” in West Knoxville.

The window of Northshore Brasserie

The window of Northshore Brasserie

Through the Alliance Française, we met people from Québec, France, Iran, Switzerland and even the United States (ha!). The conversations cover a multitude of topics and we all enjoy the interaction in the language of Molière. We definitely plan to join them for Bastille Day, our next “réunion.”

Here are the details

During the first event, we met everybody and played pétanque. Then, we had a picnic. Most of the dialogue was in French, but some of our spouses spoke to each other in English because they do not speak French at all.

Pétanque is a game like its Italian cousin, bocce. The difference is that, in bocce, you run before tossing the ball. In pétanque, you don’t. You stand and toss your ball from the launching spot.

Even though the weather was cold and my children were not too sure about speaking French to any of our new friends, we had a good time.

To say that I was inspired by the fellowship in French would be an understatement. I went home and worked on some more resources for our homeschool, like subscribing to different TV5 Monde newsletters and reaching out via email to a French family living in Knoxville, who were recommended by the members of this group.

By the second meeting, the immersion table, my children had more courage to interact in French. I am surprised by how quickly they pick up a language, but I should not be. Children under 12 are biologically wired to pick up multiple languages.

Alliance Française of Knoxville members enjoying lunch and French conversations  at Northshore Brasserie

Alliance Française of Knoxville members enjoying lunch and French conversations at Northshore Brasserie

After one month of teaching them, they understand simple phrases (what is your name? how old are you? come here, look at me, please, thank you etc) and they can count to ten. My son already uses “Eh, voilà!” when he brings me something.

When asked how old he was during the immersion table, he answered he was six years old. He constructed his sentence half in English and half in French. Progress.

Here’s another observation: their third language, French, is pushing their mother tongue, Romanian, to the forefront.

I spoke Romanian with my children since birth, but they answer me in English 99% of the time.

Today, my son and I were watering the garden. My daughter came over and asked to help, too. We took turns. When she asked to go over her allotted time, my son said, “In nici un caz!” in Romanian, which means “No way!”

I had never heard my son say that phrase before. Ever.

I knew he knew what it meant when I said it, but I did not know he could pronounce it so well and use it in an appropriate context. So I am really, really encouraged to see a bit of the fruit of my labors.

À bientôt!


Mom Monday Week 18 – Ask and Ye Shall Receive

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God is in the business of answering our prayers – even those we don’t have enough faith to pray. As I hosted the latest Raising Multilingual Children blog carnival, I felt pricked in my heart about French like never before. In our homeschool, I do read to my children in French and talk to them in French now and then, but it’s not enough.

They need conversation, preferably with small people like them. Immersion. I started dreaming about a French play group. If only there were francophone children in East Tennessee…

Wait a minute! What if? What if I could bring together a small group of homeschoolers and I taught them French as they played?

I went from “if only…” to “what if?” in a matter of days.

“If this is from You, Lord, please lead me to start a French play group. I don’t know how, where, when or with whom. I feel this calling. I will take it one step at a time and watch for Your guidance.”

I did not exactly say those words, but that was the spirit of my unspoken request.

I felt called and I took the first step. I made an announcement on our homeschool support group’s page on Facebook, asking if there was any interest in a French play group.

The first reply came from a French lady who lived 30 minutes away and had a son about my son’s age… We even had five mutual Facebook friends and had lived in this area for about the same time (nine years). What are the odds?

She was thrilled to have a French play group getting started. I was thrilled to find her.

ask and ye shall receive

Had I not asked, I would have never known. As I told my husband, he said, “Ask and ye shall receive…”  Continue reading »

Several more replies trickled in along the lines of, “We don’t speak a word of French, but we would love to immerse our children…” A couple other moms said their French was rusty, but they were willing to come and polish their skills while helping the kids.

The next step was to contact my local library (for books and a meeting space) and the Alliance Française of Knoxville (for extra French-speaking staff). Both entities wanted to help us.

We will start our French play group in June, God willing.

Do you have a homeschooling dream that seems impossible? Bring it before God. He can orchestrate changes and produce people and resources. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. Ask and ye shall receive.


French Friday, 4 Calendar Vocabulary Games

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If you need a bit more fun in your homeschool, use the French calendar vocabulary flash cards I made a few weeks ago with the following four games:

1. Attach the French days of the week vocabulary cards to your calendar display. Cover the days of the week in English with your French cards. If the English words are bigger than the French cards, you can glue the French flash cards onto bigger paper, like construction paper.

Attach the cards with push pins or clothes pins onto your calendar board. Ask your students to recite the days of the week in French first. Then, reveal the English words.

French Days of the Week Calendar Games

2. If you have eight or more students, have seven students carry a day of the week flash card and another child arrange them in order. Take turns. If you have less than eight, you can have your students carry two cards each, in order.

Another variation: the students can arrange the flash cards in sequential order on the table. For kinesthetic learners, put the cards on the floor, on a hopscotch rug or on a hopscotch outline you made with pencils or popsicle sticks.

If the weather permits it, play the game outside, on a hopscotch drawn with chalk in your driveway. They can say the name of each day as they reach the respective square.

3. Have your students make up a song with the days of the week to the tune of an English song they know well. Try “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

4. To rehearse the names slowly, show them how to break the word into syllables, e.g. “mar-di.” Clapping the beats of the syllables is a great way to experience the pronunciation in slow repetition – essential for memorization.

Hope these games bring a bit more variety and fun to your homeschool learning. A bientôt!

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French Friday, Weather

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The weather outside is frightful, so we might as well talk about it, right? Here are some expressions to get you started with small talk in French. Please find a PDF link below, to use in your homeschool.

French Friday, Le temps, weather vocabulary

 

French Weather

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