Best methods of learning a language with private tutors
Updated: Apr 21
Is learning a new language really so hard? Or is it just the methods of learning a language that make it difficult or easy? Well, being bilinguals and trilinguals ourselves, we believe that it’s the latter. With the right methods of learning a language, you and your child can have fun with French practice while also improving your chances of getting the language to really stick.
At FranceABC we practice these effective methods of learning a language with our students every lesson. But you can do some things with your kids at home to help the process along. From simple things like buying them French books and tuning into Quebecois TV to labeling objects around your house in French, here are some methods of learning a language that you can do to reinforce our tutoring sessions.
Enjoy French Media and Culture
The best way to learn a language is through total immersion – especially when it’s fun! For kids in particular, passive learning is not only effective, but it can also help to prevent the age-old myth that learning is ‘boring’.
Introduce your child – toddler, kid, pre-teen, teenage, or otherwise – to French media and culture. If you’re uncomfortable reading French books to your child, there are a range of audiobooks that are available. French television shows and films are other great ways to immerse your child into conversational French.
Media, and conversational immersion, helps your child with what’s called passive learning. Passive learning encourages the absorption of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, intonation, and conversational techniques without active review. While this can still require mental activity and brainwork, this helps to speed up the more intense, active learning that takes place in classes. After all, Mark Manson notes, ‘language is something that needs to be processed, not memorized.’
Label Your Household Items
This tip goes back to total immersion for your child. Basic vocabulary – the first 100 words – can be one of the biggest hurdles as your child attempts to become comfortable with a new language. This boils down to pronunciation, remembering words in another language, and, for languages like French, for learning the gender of objects for conjugation purposes.
One way you can help get your child comfortable with gendering objects is to label objects around their bedroom and your house. When you do this, check the gender of the object and find a way to make that instantly known when you label it. For instance, write the object’s name in one colour for feminine and one for masculine – or use different coloured sticky notes for each gender. Make sure your child knows to which gender the colour refers. While this may seem strange for English-language speakers, it’s important for languages like French. And this is one way for your child to immerse themselves in the concept of gendered objects.
Have Conversations, and Make Mistakes
This is quite a common tip to pop up. Having conversations in French, even if one speaker is still fresh in their first few lessons, can help to make the information stick. While this can be difficult for those children in monolingual homes, this is where tutoring can come in. Programs like FranceABC offer individual tutoring, but also extracurriculars like our TED-Ed program to provide our students with further immersion.
Where programs can help the fun, social aspect of learning a new language, private tutoring allows the child more guided conversational immersion. Manson, for instance, says that he believes ‘One-on-one tutoring is the best and most efficient use of time.’ Having one-on-one time helps to encourage the child to grow comfortable with using the language and make mistakes. It also offers them a safe place to ask questions and receive factual answers.
One of the most important things that multilingual speakers say is that making mistakes and looking like a ‘fool’ is crucial to learning a language. This is much easier for children, especially as they grow older, when they’re with one person who they trust and who knows effective methods of learning a language.
Repeat, Reiteration, Review
Like anything else, the most effective methods of learning a language involve repetition. When your child learns a new word, encourage them to use it as much as possible. The more they are able to use it while it’s fresh, the more likely it is to stick.
This is once more where having a private tutor or access to after-school extracurriculars can truly help your child. This offers them an opportunity to flex their new vocabulary.
Finally, Use Fun Methods of Learning a Language!
This cannot be stressed enough. Your child is much more likely to learn if they’re enjoying themselves! If it becomes boring, or a chore, your child is going to tune out and turn off. TV, films, music, French games, and social time will help show your child the benefits of learning French, and the pleasure and fun that can come from acquiring a new language.
If you’re stumped on fun methods of learning a language for your child, discuss the matter with one of our tutors. We’ll be happy to provide you with some ideas for reviewing French with your kids at home.