Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

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So glad to be reviewing one of the French Courses from Middlebury Interactive Languages. You know me, I love a good French curriculum for my kiddos. This came available to me through the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. It doesn’t get better than free, right?

Boy and girl watching Le Petit Chaperon Rouge

My kids watching Le Petit Chaperon Rouge

I was entrusted with Elementary French for grades 3-5, obviously, geared towards students in grades 3-5. You might say, “Wait just a minute, Adriana! I thought your kids were in first grade and PreKindergarten. How come you are putting this curriculum in front of them, when it’s for higher – albeit elementary – grades?”  Continue reading »

Provided you said all of the above to me, including “albeit,” I would answer with a reassuring smile: “Never fear, dear friend! I am no pushy mama. My kids can handle this because it is a series of cartoons in French, followed by interactive exercises. I have been teaching them French for five months now, using other resources. Sure, the vocabulary in this course might be a bit over their head, but that’s where learning comes in. They get challenged to learn new words while repeating words they already know. The cartoons keep them riveted to the story line. My kids might even get some words from the context on the screen.”

Middlebury French Course Elementary

What we got out of it was lots of listening to French. Plus, my son, who can read in English and Romanian, was able to peek at the French captioning on the screen while the cartoons were going on – so a gentle introduction to what French sounds look like when you spell them out. Yes, this curriculum is great that way. You can hear AND see the words being said right on the screen.

The exercises are interactive. Kids either listen and choose the right words, or arrange numbers in order or click and move words around on the screen to match concepts etc. They are so varied. After watching the cartoons, which are classic stories like “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” (“Little Red Riding Hood”), the students get to answer questions which drill vocabulary.

Middlebury Interactive Languages

The price for this is $119 per student per semester.

The curriculum repeats the cartoon after a few exercises. Repetition is the mother of learning, right? This is especially true with languages. After that, more exercises, including – I am not kidding – a language lab! How cool is that? Using your device’s mike, you can record your own voice and hear it back in order to correct your pronunciation.

Middlebury French Course Language Lab

There are also tidbits about culture, called CultureGrams, which allow the kids a window into how people who speak French interact with and greet each other.

Of course, this company offers several courses for different age groups, as you can see below.

Middlebury Courses

For your information, Middleburry Interactive courses for the K-2 crowd include a total of 35 lessons for the semester, while the Grades 3-5 program (what I worked with) has 45 lessons per semester. They recommend two days a week for Grades K-2, and 2-3 days per week for Grades 3-5.

Both the Middle School and High School programs have a total of 90 lessons per semester, with the recommendation that students complete a lesson per day for 18 weeks. All levels are self-paced, so the student can speed ahead or slow down as needed.

We were definitely self-paced. When my kids get into something, they can’t stop. They watched almost all the videos the first session. I sat and translated through them all, then guided them through a few exercises. The following session, they just wanted to watch the videos and do no exercises. I had to tell them we will not be watching any more videos until they work through the exercises.

So even though we did only two sessions per week, we got rather far, but we skipped over some of the drills. My plan is to go back and systematically work one lesson at a time and make sure we cover all the drills available. Otherwise, I don’t think they will remember the vocabulary.

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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!

 

For other French Friday posts, please click here.

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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!

For more French Friday posts, click here.


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

For more French Friday posts, please click here.

 

 


French Friday, Thanksgiving Vocabulary

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In the United States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving – a harvest feast of giving thanks for all the bounty of the land and for the goodness of God toward us. You probably took a Thanksgiving break in your homeschool. We did.

Even though they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in France, imagine explaining to a Frenchman about this American holiday. You would need some specific terms, wouldn’t you? So let’s learn some Thanksgiving vocabulary in French. Click on the link below the picture to open a PDF with printable flash cards.

Thanksgiving vocabulary in French

French Thanksgiving

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving celebration!

For more posts in the French Friday series, please click here.

À bientôt!


French Friday, Colors

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Are you ready for another French lesson in your homeschool? Let’s learn the colors in French.

Colors are an important part of vocabulary in any new language. One can use colors to express so much beyond their literal meaning. For instance, our moods. One can be green with envy, red with anger, yellow with sickness, and white with fear. The ultimate color collection, the rainbow, spells hope and a new beginning.

French Friday Colors Flash Cards

I made flash cards for learning the colors in French. Please click below for a PDF file you can save and print.

French Colors

For more French lessons from Homeschool Ways, please click here. Happy homeschooling!


French Friday, Numbers 1-20

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Hope you had a good homeschooling week. My children have learned some new skills this week and I certainly have learned a few things myself. They say if you really want to learn something, teach it.

For today’s French lesson, I made flash cards with numbers 1-20.

Numbers 1 to 20 in French, French Friday

Click on the link below to open the PDF file or to save it to your computer.

French Numbers 1-20

Hope you find this useful! For more French Friday posts, please click here.

Please leave me a comment below. Happy homeschooling!