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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dead and Live Languages

WARNING: The following a complete free write of what I'm thinking, the following information may not make much sense but is being worked out as I write. : )

Okay, we're going to start Prima Latina once we're done with reading lessons (very soon) and after thinking a lot about languages, I've decided I want to start Spanish or French now too. My loose plans/intentions for my children's lingual skills are: Latin, French, Spanish. My ex, dd's dad, is fluent in French and Italian and I know a very little Spanish and no other languages. I want to remedy this, whatever living language we chose, I'll be learning (hopefully ahead of dc).

I'm leaning towards French because it's harder to learn and is transferable to Spanish, based on what others have told me. This is what I'd like to start working on now, even without a curriculum *gasp*:
A. Greetings
1. Good day -
2. Good Bye
3. Thank You
4. Please
5. Until tomorrow

B. Parts of the body
C. How to count to 50
D. Colors
E. Alphabet
F. French folklore songs
G. Poems for end of year program


A. Days of the weeks
B. Months of the year
C. Numbers through 69
D. Date
E. Colors
F. Questions and Answers for How are you?, What is your name?, What is going on?

I saw this at Hillcrest Academy's website:

So I was thinking that we could start on these things very gently, possibly even go through the house and label things in French and then get into a curriculum or textbook. I don't want it to be a big deal, just something fun to do for dc. Danny is about to turn 3 and it would be great to start him another live language alongside English.

I'm open for suggestions and comments because I am a little intimidated by doing this. I need suggestions for my own learning of French, curriculum for dc or textbooks/workbooks. What I know of so far: Learnables French, The Easy French, Rosetta Stone French, PowerGlide French, and a few textbooks Hillcrest above uses Aventures book series from National Textbook- which I can't seem to find on my own, maybe because I am French-impaired. I don't know what to choose and what would be best for us. What about Muzzy?

Direction, help, bonk on the head...please!



Dawne said...

Hi again! Oh dear, the internet can be such a difficult medium to use for communication! I am so sorry if my comment left you with a feeling that I thought you were judgemental. Goodness sakes , not at all! I really was agreeing with you that we must be very careful not to compare! :) I was just trying to iterate that I was not comparing (this time! lol) it was just an observation that I made re: *my* child's writing, I am afraid my post didn't reflect that clear enough. ; )

Have fun with your French learning, sounds fun! We are having a blast learning Latin vocabulary....

scarymelon said...

Don't waste your money on Rosetta Stone - I was not impressed with it. My kids (who are a little younger than Camille) responded really well to Muzzy. I can't wait to see what curriculums you choose..I have had trouble finding good french resources.

Anonymous said...

I found this but it doesn't tell any more information about the program:

Anonymous said...


I would only begin one new language at a time. I started learning languages at the ripe old age of 30. I began with Latin, took 2 semesters, then began Ancient Greek (classical not koine) folded in French and then German.

The initial learning curve takes a little time but once you have an idea about HOW to learn a new language the rest is a walk in the park.

This is the sequence I have followed with my children and it works well. Although I begin the "prep work" when they are 2 or 3yo.

Just my opinion!

Trivium Academy said...

YOU are the BOMB!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Alibris info, I didn't think of looking there yet!

: ) Big Smiles Here

Trivium Academy said...

I fully agree with you but I do have support from a fellow hsler that has successfully taught five of her children Latin, Greek, Spanish and French and most at the same time. If I didn't have her support and guidance I wouldn't attempt this either! : )


Anonymous said...


We're learning German using Pimsleur cds. So far we have the $30 ten lesson set. We listen to it in the car; each lesson is about 30 min. My kids have retained a lot with very little effort. We think it's great! Just another option for ya!

Denise (DKinTX on WTM board)

chris in VA said...

Hi Jessica
Don't waste your time on Powerglide, unless it's for you, and even then I'd hesitate (I'm going to sell ours). Try the French in Action videos on (the Annenberg foundation). They are free and can teach you lots without a lot of hassle. You can get the books that go along with them cheaply.

Jennifer in OR said...

Jessica, I think French is a great choice! I don't know if your daughter has much contact with her dad, but given that he's fluent in French and Italian, you certainly want her to learn at least one of those, French being the more useful.

What to use? Here's a combo of resources I use - I've been teaching French to my kids for over a year (ages 2, 3, 5, and 7), and I do have a background in French (high school and college), though I'm not at all fluent!

(sorry, this comment is sort of long, I'm going to have to post this on my own site sometime down the road...)

1. Le Francais Facile - very nice structure, I love the French weave, has cute characters. Downside, there is a decidedly French-Canadian accent in the main speaker on the CD. As long as this isn't your only resource, you're OK. I still use it for the format. Also, there is quite a bit of writing that most of my kids can't do, but we just skip it.

2. French native - I have a dear friend and fellow-homeschooler who is from France, and we meet with her once a week, for about an hour and a half, and we play games and talk (en francais) and learn French! She is by far the most valuable French resource we have. Nothing beats talking with the natives!

3. French in Action - this is more for YOU, but the best resource out there, in my opinion, for the adult learner, and it's FREE! I almost paid $200 for this before I discovered that WGBH Boston airs it free, and you watch the videos online. Go to (no "s" at the end of learner). Annenberg Media is the producer. The author, Pierre Capretz, is a long-time Yale professor, and he's fabulous! I actually took this course in college as part of my French studies, so I already had the book that goes along with it. But you can get it used for about $12. I'm doing the course again, because college was a long time ago! (yikes, like 15 years ago). Basically, it's a mini-movie (soap opera?) that you become immersed in, with lots of interjections by Prof. Capretz as he does his teaching. There are about 50 half-hour lessons. I can't say enough good things about this. The more you learn, the better teacher you'll be for your kids.

4. French Learnables - I'll have to tell you about this later; I just bought and haven't even received yet...but have been hearing good things...

5. Your local library: every week, I check something French out from the library, it's always random, but I don't want to spend a ton on money when I don't have to. I cycle through their offering of books and videos, and the kids enjoy having different materials. Here's what I currently have checked out:

a) French on the way to the fete, by Penton Overseas - the perfect intro. to conversation that you're looking for, with native speakers - you must find native speakers! It's a CD with workbook.

b) Larousse Dictionary for Beginners - comes with CD - full color, useful phrases (good morning, time to dress, breakfast, school, feelings, etc.) Nice layout, not too cluttered, good testing sections for the kids, French songs on the CD.

c) French, Je Parle Francais, by Berlitz Jr. - cute teddy bear takes you through his day; love it, I've checked this out from the library many times.

d) Just Look 'n Learn French Picture Dictionary by Passport Books - I checked out two different dictionaries this time, mostly because I want the two older kids to each have one to look at during quiet reading time. This one is more cluttered, with smaller pictures, but I really like that every entry has an example sentence. And full color and full illustrations for every word.

6. Muriel's World, French Songs for Children, by Muriel Vergnaud. I had to do some searching when I tried to find a CD of French songs for kids that had authentic French singers (not Americans or Canadians singing French), and that also didn't have this horrible, computer-generated sounding music with ridiculous songs. This artist is a gem. She was born and raised in France and studied music, performed in orchestras...all her songs are original compositions about things children love. I can't remember where I bought this CD, but I got it online about a year ago. Just google her name and you'll find her music. She lives in NYC. We listen to this in the van all the time, and the kids have learned a ton (counting, colors, animals, games, etc.)

I hope that is helpful!! Oh, also, if you don't already own them, you really can't do with the big Collins French Dictionary and 501 French Verbs. Still have mine from college days, but I'm sure they are easy to come by.

Bonne Chance with your French journey! I absolutely love the French language and culture - oh, and also, we are having a French student (15 yr. old) come stay with us this summer - my French friend here set it up for me, the girl is a friend of her family back in France. So be on the lookout for those kinds of opportunities, too.


Laura said...

You may want to check out L'Art de Dire. I'm using it with my 10-year old dd right now. They may have products for younger ones. If they don't, I would suggest you take a look at The Easy French. Have fun!
Laura in VA

Laura said...

Oh, sorry Jessica. Here's the website for the L'Art de Dire:

I know someone else on the WTM board uses this, but I'm not sure who.

Anonymous said...

We have been using something called Tell Me More for our Spanish learning- its fantastic. Its software, but I have to say my ds is picking up on the language extremely quickly, and he is enjoying learning Spanish and not bored with it (amazing!).
He is slightly older than your little ones (he's 14), but I would recommend the program to you if you want to learn Spanish or French, or Italian along with them.
We did try Rosetta first and it was ok for a quick intro to Spanish, but it seemed he quickly became bored and not interested in the content and what he was learning.
Good luck with your search!

Suzanne said...

How wonderful that you've decided to learn French! (I'm in the opposite situation - fluent in French, but trying to teach myself a so-called dead language so I can more easily teach it to DD years down the road.)

If you're interested in a cheap, do-it-yourself approach, look for a book at your library called How to Learn Any Language by Barry Farber (or Barry M. Farber). His method has you study just 5 chapters of grammar before plunging in to a newspaper or magazine article. The idea is that you highlight any word you don't know (which will be almost everything at first), look it up in a dictionary, and write it on a flash card. There's a bit more to his approach than that, but most of the book is a memoir of his adventures in a lifetime of learning languages.

Although I can see why some people like Rosetta Stone, I have a feeling it wouldn't appeal to you (I found RS Latin maddening). The Living Language Ultimate is a better choice for those who wish to read and write as well as speak the language, but it's not cheap.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Google is my best friend! I wouldn't have thought to look there either. :)
Have you looked at the Beth Manners' cds? Danny might like those. Elizabeth (almost 2 1/2) has the Spanish ones and she loves them. We are also enjoying Play and Learn Spanish (there is a French version). It has Spanish phrases and songs that fit with all parts of the day. It is basically a dialogue that you can use during each part of the day. It would be easier to use if you knew French but it does have translations and comes with a cd. Another favorite is children's books in Spanish, but again you would at least need to know how to pronounce the language. Elizabeth's favorite Spanish word is ocho. She actually uses it instead of eight except when she's counting!
Good luck on your French adventure! :)

Anonymous said...

Hopefully that last post doesn't show up a bunch of times. I couldn't get it to post at first. Anyway, I just wanted to add that I found all of those things in my last post at Amazon. If you haven't looked there already check it out. They have lots of language learning books and programs for all ages.

Anonymous said...


That's great that you have that support! I'm in the position of teaching Latin, French and Classical Greek at the same time but at different levels and to different children. It just depends on what your goals are for each child. I want my girls to have some facility with each language so we spend a great deal of time getting grounded in each language before we add another. Just my 2 cents.