Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Introduction: Making Time and Space for Eureka
Language schools seem to be everywhere these days. Perhaps you even have a memory of learning a new language which still sticks with you to this day. I remember a time when I really struggled in a French literature course in university.
As with most academic problems, speaking to one knowledgeable person can make all the difference and make you move from ugh to eureka.
Whether you’re struggling with a concept, the steps to solve a problem, or the proper pronunciation, one-to-one tutoring can save time and money.
As a language teacher, I believe French classes for kids should be available wherever you are. When students conflate schools with learning and devices with fun, they lose out on the single greatest resource right at their fingertips: technology. As adults we are as susceptible to the notion that tablets and smartphones are often used for games and amusement rather than education and learning.
Online French classes for kids gives parents control over how their child interacts with technology. It instills values of learning without exhausting the child. Learning can happen anywhere and at anytime whether it be in the car, on a family visit, or at-home in pajamas. So, what does an online classroom actually look like? Here at FranceABC, we have a few pedagogical pillars which underpin our curriculum.
1) PERSONALIZED ATTENTION AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Everyone has that teacher who made them feel special and inspired them. They made you feel important and encouraged you to be better. In other words, you felt intrinsically motivated: compelled by a personal interest or belief in yourself rather than external rewards. Online group classes can struggle to reach this level of authenticity due to a poor student-to-teacher ratio.
One-to-one tutoring strengthens student-teacher rapport in a way in which typical school classrooms cannot compete. Imagine if you had the ability to speak at length with your favourite teacher. Even better, what if you could talk to that favorite teacher outside school while talking about things that matter to you?
For optimal results, student should be partnered with their very own French tutor so the child is comfortable in a shorter span of time. The educator rapidly adapts the lesson to the strengths and weaknesses of the child. In essence, children get the special attention they need in areas they struggle with and extended in parts they excel in.
2) OPERATING AN ONLINE FRENCH CLASSROOM
When learning another language, children are revered as the best language-learners of all! This is further enhanced when they are actively engaged in fun-filled lessons. Thanks to several years of online teaching with a variety of online language schools, I have developed a fast-paced, interactive curriculum that combines culture and language. Using a range of activities, children can type, draw and move objects within the online classroom. These instinctive features mean the child is actively learning rather than passively listening. After all, the best levels of learning happen in a state of play!
As with any classroom, instruction in a different language requires a shared vocabulary between the teacher and student. This basic French vocabulary is quickly taught to the student so we can move on to the deeper components of the curriculum: speaking, listening, spelling, mathematics and culture. For instance, looking at children’s songs in French combines listening with culture. At FranceABC, we follow the CEFR, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, to develop our lessons and units.
Simultaneously, it is vitally important to be flexible with each student. By using the vocabulary of each lesson to ask about the student’s interests, preferences and ideas, the student develops an emotional connection to the content. An astounding amount of research suggests that learning occurs when we have an emotional attachment to the subject of study. This can also be achieved by allowing the child to guide the lesson whether it be through their own questions or passions.
3) ASSESSMENT AS A MEANS TO FUN
Unlike some learning environments, one-to-one online learning easily expedites students’ progress. It also helps students to be honest when they don’t know something and create unique opportunities for teaching. Assessment is about knowing how best to help the child by identifying areas where they can improve socially and grammatically. With individualized, personalized attention and a tutor of their own, students’ needs are quickly assessed and addressed. As with everyone, young language learners like to share what matters to them. Sometimes assessment is about sparking interest and encouraging consistent use of the language.
Progress also means measurable outcomes. We begin with an assessment for learning (in the class) followed by an assessment of learning (during regular recap lessons). All the main areas of the lesson are included: conversation, grammar, vocabulary, numeracy, and social studies. This allows the teacher to assess student progress across multiple lessons. We continue to use fun activities thereby removing the stress associated with typical, standardized testing.
Conclusion: Online Learning Succeeds
There is no doubt that young students who learn an additional language – such as children in French studies – outperform many of their monolingual peers. Having one-to-one French classes for kids means students can learn whenever and wherever they are. I can’t imagine how my education would have been transformed if online classrooms had been available!