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Homeschooling French immersion students? Relax, there are resources

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If you're homeschooling your kids and that science textbook looks like it's written in another language, for parents of kids in French Immersion, it's literally in another language.

In B.C., 568,983 students are enrolled in the French Immersion program in 2019, according to the Canadian Parents for French. 

Currently, all of those students are at home, being taught by their parents for the foreseeable future.

For parents who don't know a word of French, teaching their French immersion children presents a whole new challenge.

"The best things that we can do to help families right now is to provide them online resources, so movies, and music and literature,” said Glyn Lewis, Executive Director of Canadian Parents for French B.C. and Yukon.

Those resources are coming but for now, there is a wide variety of these French resources available online for parents and students to use from home.

For French beginners, choosing a movie that children already are familiar with in English makes it easier for them to follow the story. Having prior context before watching will help them to better identify what is being said. DisneyPlus has the option to both change the spoken dialogue and add closed captions in French on certain movies like the live-action Lion King and Aladdin. Netflix also offers this option on some shows.

Enabling closed captioning in French is helpful, as students can read along with the dialogue despite any strong accents, or the actors speaking quickly.

The best choice for movies are those that don’t contain a lot of regional slang, because students often won’t recognize the vocabulary and easily lose track of the plot. This can be an issue with films produced in France.

Getting children to engage with reading can be a challenge, especially if they are required to read French. An easy way for parents to approach this is by offering their children French versions of English books that they already love. Popular books series like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, or classics like Pride and Prejudice and Slaughterhouse Five, have all been translated into French. Also, if parents are familiar with the English version of the novel, it facilitates answering any reading questions. 

For students who have assignments to complete, online French-English dictionaries such as Linguée and WordReference are helpful in translating words and demonstrating how to correctly use them in a sentence.

To assist students working on verb conjugation, online conjugators will show all tenses, and all subjects for any verb.

Lewis encourages parents to continuously expose their children to the French language and culture in order to mitigate the effects of no longer being immersed in the classroom environment.

To help with this, Canadian Parents for French is creating a new section on its website, where they will make resources easily accessible for parents currently teaching French at home.

"We’re compiling all of that information right now, and it’s going to be launched on our website in the next couple days,” Lewis said.

Parents will soon have access to tutoring services, music, movies, and curriculum-linked exercises while schools are not in session.

This week, Canadian Parents for French also launched a virtual French public speaking competition called Ensemble à Distance for all Canadian French immersion students. Students can submit short videos speaking in French about what their life is like right now while schools are closed. 

Students in grade 11 and 12 in first place will win $400, second place $200 and third place $100. The grade 8 to 10 first place prize is $300, second place is $150 and third is $75. The grade 6 and 7 first place prize is $150, second is $75 and third is $50.

For each K-5 submission a $10 donation will be made to Food Banks Canada. Each submission will be entered into a random draw for two round-trip tickets for anywhere in Canada with Air Canada.   

The deadline for video submission is May 2. To submit a video, click here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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