The method we use to teach the phonograms is important. A child learns that the following symbol, "a", says one sound (in french, for in english it says three sounds) at the same time as he writes the letter. He does not learn the name of the letter, but rather learns the sound and its formation. He uses his auditory ability to hear the sound, uses his visual ability to see the letter, uses his vocal ability to speak the sound, and uses his kinesthetic ability to write the letter. This multi-sensory way of learning pulls everything together and gives the child a mental picture for the symbol. When the child sees the letter again, his mind searches and finds the letter and its associated sound that matches it, rather than the name of the letter. The child then has a mental picture associated with the letter and subsequently the word.
Learning the French alphabet song independently from the reading lesson does not affect the results. See Dr. Marilyn Jaguer-Adams' reviews of educational theory in her book Beginning To Read: Thinking and Learning About Print--A Summary. The French alphabet song has been recorded for you and is located on the enhanced CD. Please listen to this recording independent of the lesson time.
Jeanne Chall's Stages of Reading Development is another interesting theory to explore. Professor Chall was a Harvard University professor and a noted reading expert. Professor Chall in her book, Stages of Reading Development establishes the following stages: pre-reading, initial reading and decoding (letter-sound relations), confirmation and fluency (advanced decoding skills), reading to learn the new (comprehension), multiple viewpoints (reading and understanding complex material) and construction and reconstruction (synthesize and create new knowledge).
Level I of Le Français Facile! takes your child through the pre-reading and initial reading and decoding stages. (See a chart that summaries Dr. Chall's stages with the levels of Le Français Facile! below) These three stages must be introduced in succession if future success is our goal. Children can memorize obscure lists of words, but will they truly understand the language and will they be able to attain higher decoding skills?
When I taught elementary French as a second language in the public school, we were given this very method of learning lists of words based on topics. For example, a child would learn all the vocabulary for "going to the doctor". (Those who are familiar with the Gouin Series might think that this type of instruction follows his methods, but it does not. Mr. Gouin methods were far more sophisticated. This is a discussion onto itself and can be better described in a future article.) The kids hated it. They found it boring and quickly forgot what I taught them. I decided there was a better way. I started teaching the basics of the language and saw kids start to enjoy the language more because they now understood it.
Dr. Chall's Stages of Development and the levels of Le Français Facile!
|Le Français Facile!
|Dr. Chall’s Stages
|Letter-sound relations: pre-reading (yr. 1), initial reading and decoding (yrs. 2 &3)
|Letter-sound relations: initial reading and decoding & starting advanced decoding skills Advanced decoding skills: confirmation and fluency (2 year program)
|Comprehension: reading to learn the new Reading and understanding complex material: multiple viewpoints (2 year program)
As a homeschooling mother, I taught a group of non-francophone homeschooled children with my method. I found they learned, but they needed more than the phonograms and rules. This is where the stories come in. One of the biggest determinants to success in reading is being read to. Since parents who do not understand French cannot accomplish this, my program does it for them. The French Weave allows the child to be able to understand the storyline, yet hear the sounds of the language in a non-threatening manner. As the children learn the sounds, experience the culture, do the activities, they will start to learn the vocabulary. As they start to learn the vocabulary and think in French for certain words and expressions, my curriculum starts weaning them from the English. As their mind switches to thinking in French, they receive less cues from the English words; this reinforces the transfer of thought and communication into real French speakers.
My intensive-phonics based program, Le Français Facile!, teaches a child French language arts using principles described by Dr. Diggory's and Dr. Chall's theories. The method teaches all the aspects of the language as the child is learning and when the child needs to have that knowledge. For example, the child learns sound recognition, feature recognition, letter recognition, orthographic letter-sound correspondence, and spatial placement in a progressive, as needed logical manner. Separating these sub-routines and teaching each separately can also cause confusion. Le Français Facile! teaches an integrated French language arts, which makes learning French easy (Facile!).
note: this is part 2. Have you read part 1?
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