Kingsong’s French is what I concern the most. When we lived in Toronto before moving to Ottawa at the end of 2005, Kingsong just started learning French in Grade 4 for one semester. However in Ottawa, students start learning French at Grade one, so Kingsong is kind of lag from the very beginning, I think.
In March break this year, Kingsong went back to china for three weeks. I took this opportunity to communicate with Kingsong’s French teacher Mlle Karen Coughtrey.
I was kind of happy to know that Mlle Coughtrey said Kingsong was among the strongest students in the class and he was doing well. She also mentioned that Kingsong felt good about his progress in French.
Mlle Coughtrey does have her own website. It is very inspirational although it is still under construction.
Mlle Coughtrey also recommended some website for studying and improving French.
Two sites from University of Texas that offers an online French couse which can be accessed for free.
I also mentioned that kingsong use online translators to do his French work. Mlle Coughtrey said she discouraged this practice not just because it was taking an easy way out but also because they did not work. She could always tell when a student had used one because it usually produced work that did not make grammatical sense. If online help was needed she would suggest using a website called bonpatron.com. It allows the user to enter in text in French and then shows where there are errors and offers suggestions and explanations for changes. It does not change the work so the user must correct their own work, but they learn where they went wrong so are less likely to do the same thing the next time.
More tips offered by Mlle Coughtrey:
When writing in French it also helps to remember that many things are different from in English. Two main things; it is important to remember to check the gender of nouns and that adjectives are placed after the noun. (in English we say “the blue cat”, in French they say “le chat bleu”.)
Building vocabulary is difficult, as it just needs to be memorized but the websites I sent you before should help. Another thing I do to improve vocabulary is to read in French.
Chapters sometimes has French magazines, he could buy one on a subject he is interested in. I also read French editions of books I loved reading in English that were at a lower reading level than what I read now in English. For example I am currently reading the French editions of the Twilight books that are meant for teenagers. Perhaps there was a series of books Kingsong enjoyed reading when he was younger and he could try reading the French edition. Already knowing the story in English helps with understanding and picking up new vocabulary.
At last she mentioned that Kingsong should be familiar with how to write in the past, present and future tense.