Decision Point: Can This French Program Be Saved?

After a beautiful Northwest summer, my social-studies teaching husband returned from his first day back to work with news: the French teacher at his high school had suddenly retired, just days before students were set to arrive. I was wide-eyed at this revelation. I had wondered if I would ever teach French at our local school, and I've kept my teaching license valid, but homeschooling our children has been my top priority over the past few years--particularly so that I can raise them in French. We wondered what the school administrators would choose to do.

Forty-eight hours later, my husband told me his principal would like us to decide immediately if I would step into the French position. I was overwhelmed with the suddenness of the request, particularly since no one from the school had contacted me directly, but I agreed to meet with the principal the following day to find out the details. I was told the position would entail teaching four levels of French, six classes per day, full-time, starting in two work days.

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An Interview with Marie Gervais of Marygold Books on eBay

If you've ever searched eBay for children's books in French, you have probably come across titles listed by Marygoldbooks. Marie Gervais is the seller behind that handle, and she's been selling children's books in French on eBay since 2002. She's sold over 6,000 items and yet she has virtually perfect feedback ratings from buyers. Want to know where she finds all those French books? Keep reading--here's my interview with Marie in English along with her French responses:

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Catching Up: le premier avril

Bonjour les amis! I've missed you! Je m'excuse--I'm sorry I didn't write more last month. I've been planning our summer séjour in France, with a 5-day stopover in another country on the way (any guesses as to which country? I'll give you a few hints as our departure approaches!).

Today is le premier avril (April 1st). In France and some francophone countries (as well as Italy), today is known as April fish day because children try to tape paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting people. When their prank is discovered, they cry, "Poisson d'avril!" (April fish!) If you'd like to know more about April Fool's Day in France, Geraldine from Comme Une Française has made a brief video in English about it:

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A Favorite Cultural Film Documentary Series: Families of the World

Media is a fantastic way to supplement language learning--my children and I love the French children's books we borrow from Les Petits Livres, and I often stream French children's music from Spotify radio, but I rarely turn to movies or film clips because they're such a passive way of learning. However, there are a few educational films that I've appreciated for what they've taught my children about the world's languages and cultures. Here's the first of the film resources that I'd like to share with you:

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Tips for Leading a Young Bilingual Playgroup

Bonjour les amis! Last fall I told you about a conference I attended for teachers of foreign languages, the ACTFL conference in San Antonio, Texas, and it was full of information about supporting language learning (of course!). One of the sessions I attended focused on "Playing to Promote a Second Language in Toddlers and Preschoolers," presented by Raul Echevarria of CommuniKids. If you've ever thought about starting a simple class or playgroup to support language learning, you'll want to read Raul's tips:

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Beginning French Lesson 6: Likes & Dislikes Project

One of my favorite activities to do with beginning French students is to help them create a likes and dislikes chart. The chart is fun and colorful, but what I love most about it is what it enables students to do afterwards: it provides a context for learning how to use a bilingual dictionary and helps students grasp basic French sentence construction. Essentially, this activity moves students beyond the early language stage of memorizing basic phrases and towards a solid understanding of how to create their own original sentences in French.

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Beginning French Lesson 5: Numbers, Likes, & Dislikes

This lesson was the fifth weekly class for beginning French students (ages 8-12) after a two-week break. We focused on reviewing conversational phrases and playing BINGO to reinforce numbers through 79. We also began an activity that helps students learn basic sentence structure and gives them familiarity with using a bilingual dictionary (online and printed versions). This lesson was designed for a 50-minute class.

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