Get your little one parroting French!
My daughter Eva is two and a half and her Daddy has been speaking in French to her since she was born. When she first started talking she would come out with a mixture of French and English but now she most definitely chooses to speak in English and mostly refuses to use French words. I started thinking one of the reasons might be that she doesn’t hear French used by other people or in adult conversations. Perhaps a French class would help her see it’s a real language that other people use, not just a special thing that her daddy makes up!
I found out about Little Parrots French classes for children through a poster in my local toddler group (www.littleparrots.net). Classes are just 45 minutes once a week for under 4s and held in Hanover Community Centre (Tuesdays at 10am). Most of the year you sign up in advance for the term but in the last weeks of the summer term they are open as drop in sessions (until 18th July) for £5 a class. I decided to take Eva along to try them out.
Nicole the teacher was very friendly and welcoming and had a range of ways of engaging the children and hopefully eliciting some French from them. We started with a ball game to get the children to say their names, and then did some counting games. Patrice the parrot made an appearance and we sang a song about little worms getting scoffed by a bird. We had some fun with playdoh making some worms and acting out the song so the children could understand what it was about. We sang lots of songs with actions and finished with a French story book. Everything was on a level accessible for the children (and for parents if they didn’t speak French!) but taking account that many children of age 2 or 3 don’t speak much on demand anyway even in their own language!
Eva didn’t join in much but I think that’s to do with her personality – preferring to watch and hold back in new situations. Another child was the same age and was really engaging with and enjoying the activities. I’m sure once Eva had settled in she would have taken part a bit more readily. There is lots of parental involvement too making it a safe space for even the clingiest of children.
Nicole also runs classes in Italian and for older children so it’s never too late to start. Research suggests the earlier children learn a language the easier it is and the better their accent later on, so it’s great to give kids a head start.
More information on Little Parrots language classes can be found at www.littleparrots.net