Language Learning Tools
After a month of being immersed in and studying French, we’ve collected our favorite language learning strategies to share with you all…
Before departure, we used a language learning computer program called Fluenz, and it is awesome. Jack finished four levels and I finished one, and we both had a solid foundation from which to build on when we got here. I’m so thankful that we put time in beforehand - it made our transition so much easier!
Also before departure, I bought a subscription to a kids language learning app called StudyCat. I was specifically looking for something that didn’t require the kids to type in French. I wanted something that asked the kids to respond to directions and vocabulary while listening to French over and over. The kids finished the whole thing before we left, and it gave them basic knowledge of vocabulary (colors, numbers, letters, food, articles of clothing, animals, transportation, etc) and it gave them time to listen to French sentences, as the directions were all given in French. Plus, they just felt like they were playing games, so they loved it!
Since being here, in addition to language school, we’ve found a few things that are especially helpful to learning French.
Daily life things are really helpful… we stumble through conversations with neighbors, we talked to the guy who came to repair something in our apartment, and Lucy and I got haircuts (Google translate assured that we got the cut we want, but other than that we chatted in French with a very patient coiffeuse).
Jack and I each chose a paperback novel in French and are working through them with a pencil, marking words we don’t know and looking up grammar structures as we go. It’s a painfully slow process, but I’m amazed at the vocabulary, sentence structure, and word order rules I’ve learned through doing this! I’m reading Le Lion, la Sorcière Blanche, et l’Armoire magique by C.S. Lewis. Jack is reading L’associé by John Grisham.
Early on in our time here, we found a little Christian bookstore and bought French Bibles. I’m working through a Jen Wilkin study (in English) and referencing my French Bible as I go. Our church and small group is all in French as well, so we get lots of time to hear Scripture in French!
My favorite language learning tool has been worship music. Before our arrival, I asked the ladies at the church who were helping us what songs they sang at church. I began playing that music for our family at home and watching the lyrics. Again, I was looking up any vocabulary we didn’t know and practicing pronunciation. It’s been a great way to learn the vocabulary of Scripture and be able to participate in worship at church! Many of the songs are translated from familiar English songs - here are a few of our favorites if you’d like to listen!