We have often contemplated teaching a second language in our homeschool. Language is something that I was neither Dave or I have any gifting in so we knew that should we choose to teach a language it would have to be with a complete curriculum as we would be learning alongside our children. Recently we were offered to review French Essentials (a complete French language program). We were given Full Access to the Online Program ( one full year, all modules, of their French lessons). We have been enjoying working through this as a family!
French Essentials is an interactive, online & downloadable, complete French language program. It utilises the latest technologies available to bring engaging lessons to your student in the study of both the French language & culture throughout the world. French Essentials was written by French language teachers who also homeschool their children. It was written for homeschooling families & is designed for students from grades 2 to 12 with varying levels of interactions with the program depending upon their ability. One subscription is available for use with the whole family. If a student has had prior French lessons, an online placement test is available HERE.
French Essentials is broken up into modules that the student works through at their own pace. Each module is available for individual purchase for $69.95 or for full access to the complete program for one year for $149.95. Younger students are advised to work through one module per year. This will allow them to complete the full program by the time they graduate. Older students may wish to complete more. Each module is further broken into lessons. The bulk of the lesson is an interactive pdf file (of varying sizes). These are downloaded & saved to your computer. Within these lessons are audio & video files that model the correct pronunciation & usage of the terminology the student is currently studying. A downloadable workbook is also provided with the lessons for the student to work through. This ensures the student learns how to write as well as read & speak the French language.
French Essentials also has online activities to compliment the lessons. These include exercises & lesson tests. The exercises begin with flashcards for the student to review. There are further learning activities to ensure the student completely understands the new terms and then the student must practice the spelling. This involves typing the phrase, so keyboard skills are important. Further activities encourage the student to race themselves in remembering the new phrase. The online test presents various options of questions so the parent can control what they want their student tested in. This allows for students of different abilities to still show their mastery of the lesson content.
There is also a Culture area available from French Essentials. This contains small pdf files that introduce & teach about a specific part of French culture & language around the world. These are very quick to read, but encourage the student to investigate further if they would like.
|Learning the spelling|
We have used French Essentials over the past few weeks. We have taken it slowly as our children are still quite young to be learning a second language. Since we have very little prior French knowledge, we began the program at Lesson One, Module One. We began by sitting down & working through the lesson pages. I would read the content to the children & we would practice the words modelling the correct pronunciation from the embedded audio files. Eli quickly became disinterested, but since he is in First Grade, he is really too immature for the content of the program. Jud was able to sit & listen & enjoyed practising the words. Since he is also in First Grade that is all I encouraged him to do. I printed off a full workbook for Zai & Ellie & they completed the relevant worksheets. I then set them working through the online exercises. Zai ( Fifth Grade) found it easy enough to complete, although he is not a quick typist so would get frustrated with this. Ellie (Fourth Grade) found practising the French spelling difficult and she only worked through a few of the exercises without getting too frustrated. My competitive streak became rather apparent as I thoroughly enjoyed racing the program and found I was able to learn the phrases easily after using this component of the program. We all found the culture pages interesting as French is such a common language throughout the world. The online tests were easily completed by Zai, Ellie & myself.
|Racing the program!|
Overall we have enjoyed using the French Essentials program. I've had a lot of fun learning this along with the children & we practice ALL THE TIME (which I'm sure would be quite entertaining should you speak French fluently)! Although some of the children had difficulties with various aspects of the program, I would account this to their own abilities rather than the program. I did find that I had to make sure I had downloaded the lessons prior to needing to use them otherwise some took a fair amount of time to download. Since I plan our homeschool week, this became part of my Friday planning time.
I actually studied French for one semester of Grade Eight. I can confidently say that I have learnt much more in the short time we have been using French Essentials then I learnt in all my previous French lessons combined. We will continue to use French Essentials in our homeschool studies.
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