Old Town French

French classes in Old Town Alexandria for children

Why start a second language so early?

Children have a natural ability to understand lanuages, especially at the time when they are learning their maternal language.  Babies and young children who are exposed to a second language have a better ability to distinguish sounds than older children and adults do.  For more information about brain development and language acquisition, check out the following link: Building Baby's Brain

In addition, children and adults who speak more than one language often have a better understanding of their first language,  as well as stronger analytical and interpretive skills.

I don't speak French.  May I still attend?

Yes!  Your child's experience in French class will be enhanced by your participation!  This is a great way to start learning French since you'll be learning with your child.  I supply all the words to the songs in class so parents can sing along.  After each class, parents are given a sheet summarizing important words and phrases of the day along with their translations so they can practice French with their child at home. I encourage parents of children of any age to stay and participate in their child's class! 

What is a typical class like?

**Please note that the early-ages class is just as much for the parent/caregiver as it is for the child.  By learning the songs, phrases and dances in class, you will be able to continue French class at home.  Creating that bridge between home and class increases your child's appreciation and eventual acquisition of French.  

1 to 2 year-old class:

We start with some free playtime to help with the transition of getting into the class.  The teacher plays with your child and assists you in playing with your child in French for the first few minutes.  Then we do our greeting song and then finger play. Finger plays are an important aspect of the class since the children learn gestures to go with French songs(Itsy, Bitsy spider(in French), Ainsi font, font, font, etc.)  Then we enjoy playing with some animals or other props(puppets, stuffed animals, vehicles, balls).  After that, we dance to popular French songs, play instruments and/or  do scarf play(the children love to play peek-a-boo with the scarves)  At the end, we finish with a French lullaby while the children and their caregivers rest.

We say goodbye to each other and by 2 years of age, many are able to blow a kiss and say bisous.
Between ages 1 and 2, language is more receptive, meaning they will hear and understand many words.  In my class we put a lot to music and songs which makes receptive comprehension even stronger.  You will receive the music we use in class so you may sing and dance with your child at home as practice. Our goal is to make French fun for your child and you.

2 1/2 to 5 year-old class:
Learning a language is becoming more productive at this age.  Children are taking what they have heard and seen(receptive learning) and trying to say, sing or dance something on their own.  We continue to do the aforementioned finger plays since finger plays are a great way to learn a language by combine singing with kinesthetic activity.  We also dance, play instruments, do scarf play and listen to a relaxing lullaby songs.  Books, felt board stories and puppet shows are introduced at this age since children are starting to be able to sit for a few minutes to enjoy an interesting show or book.  In addition, an arts & crafts  (un bricolage) is given to the children at the end of the class.  The arts & crafts reinforces in a multi-sensory way some of the words we learned during class. 

5-7-year-old class
We continue to have fun learning French through music, movement, art and stories.  In addition, children are encouraged to speak to the teacher and to each other in French through group games.   Visual cues on the wall help remind the children of different words and phrases we are focusing on. Children are also encouraged to speak by putting on a puppet show, helping each other with arts & crafts and doing group games. Grammar and phonetics will be introduced. To practice our French, children will also be invited on field trips to practice their French in real-life situations.  Our most popular field trip is to a French restaurant where the menu is in French and the children order their meal with a French-speaking server.
7 -11 year-olds 
Children will continue learning French through music, movement, art and stories.  In addition, children will be learning French grammar and phonics.  They will have their own workbook with French writing, phonics and reading lessons.  To practice our French, children will also be invited on field trips to practice their French in real-life situations.  Our most popular field trip is to a French restaurant where the menu is in French and the children order their meal with a French-speaking server. There is also an advanced class for children who have taken French for at least one year and who are ready to read & write much more in French.  It is also for those who are able to speak some French with the teacher and other students.   Please email Mme. Rebecca if you have questions: oldtownfrench@gmail.com  
Children(ages 10 and up) in this class may be asked to help as a camp assistant during the summer, a fun and enriching learning experience for our advanced students! 

How does the Playgroup work?

The playgroup is structured similar to a typical day at preschool.  The children begin with free play. This a great time to have one-on-one with the teacher or French-speaking assistant or use their French with other children in a creative play environment. They will also have the choice to do an open-ended craft. Next, the class will be divided into two small groups based on age.  Each mini-group will have circle time with the teacher. During this circle time,  we will sing, dance, have stories and do arts & crafts.  At the end, we will finish as a group with a small yoga session and/or lullaby music.   

In addition,  we will have snack time (LE GOUTER) when children learn important vocabulary words related to eating.  Children love the opportunity to eat with their friends and teachers. During snack they will learn to serve each other food using their French.

If your child is potty-trained, you may "drop-off" your child at the playgroup.

Is there a theme each session?

Yes. Each session has a theme, based on the time of the year and the children's interests.  Examples of themes include : "At the Market",  "What Moves",  "Musical Instruments" and "Winter Animals".  Each class also reviews counting, colors, the alphabet,  parts of the body, salutations and common commands and phrases.

Do I need to stay with my child during class?

If your child is 3 1/2 years-old or younger, either you or your caregiver need to participate with your child during the class. By participating with your child, you are able to reinforce at home what your child learned during the class.  For children ages 3 1/2 to 11 years-old, the parent or caregiver does not have to remain based on teacher discretion and your child's comfort level. However, if a child between 3 1/2-11 years-old still needs re-direction, we will ask the parent to stay and participate with the class until the child can participate without constant re-direction from the teacher. 

What is your cancellation policy?

Class may be cancelled if Alexandria City Public Schools(ACPS)  schools are closed due to weather but I will still email you and let you know whether French will be cancelled. Classes may also be cancelled due to teacher illness. I will send an email as soon as I know class will be cancelled.  Please check your email before attending class in case class is cancelled due to weather or teacher illness and confirm to me that you received the email.  I will make up the class at the end of the session if class is cancelled due to weather or teacher illness.

Where can I buy books/DVDS/materials to support French learning at home?

Many parents ask me where they can buy materials to continue learning French at home. Bonjour Maman in Kensington has a very large collection of new and used French books and magazines. http://www.bonjourmama.com/

Hooray 4 Books on King St. in Old Town Alexandria and French  Politics & Prose in Washington, DC has a collection of French books for sale as well.

A few libraries in our area have books you may borrow: The library at Alliance Francaise in DC, DC Public Libraries and Beatley library here in Alexandria.

You may also join a French book club offered by the "L'ECOLE DES LOISIRS" publishers.  For less than $10/month your child receives a French book.  I often read these books in class so you may learn how to prononce the words with me and then read them with your child at home. Please ask me about joining this enriching book club.  This publisher also offers many other books if you're interested in buying books that aren't in the subscription.  Please see me for more information or click on French Book Club.

Some French learning DVDs I like are Whistlefritz (they have both CDs and learning DVDs) and Little Pim DVDs.  

There are many French books to be found on amazon.com and amazon.fr 

There are many apps available for children.  Please see Newsletter and blog where I update and recommend apps for language learning.

Youtube is a great resource for finding children's shows in French.  Please see Songs for some of my favorites.

You may already have DVDs that can be played in French.  My children like "Max et Ruby" and "Dora" which can be found for bargain prices at Ross, Target or TJ Max.

My child is already learning a foreign language. Is it OK for them to start another foreign language?

 Most children do very well learning a second foreign language and their native language seems to get stronger because they are able to make connections and comparisons among the languages they are learning.
 Since young children's brains are so flexible, if the foreign language is presented in a fun and interesting manner, the experience of learning two or more languages is very positive.  In the end, your child will be stronger for it!

"The power to learn a language is so great in the young child that it doesn’t seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way....They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is ripe to do this…there doesn’t seem to be any detriment to....develop[ing] several languages at the same time" according to Dr. Susan Curtiss, UCLA Linguistics professor. (Curtain & Dahlberg 2004)

Here is a link from the National Education Association compiling research about foreign language learning.  See section about Early Second Language Learning. http://www.ncssfl.org/papers/BenefitsSecondLanguageStudyNEA.pdf

May I bring my baby to my older child's class? Do I need to pay for my baby if s/he attends my older child's class?

Yes, you may bring your baby(12 months and under) to class with the older sibling but please let the teacher know you are bringing your baby. 

No, you do not need to pay for your baby if he or she is under 12 months-old. If the sibling is older than 1 year-old, you will need to pay for a spot for your child.  When toddlers get older, they usually want to participate in all aspects of the class and a spot needs to be paid for.  There are sibling discounts offered.  

If you would like to bring different-aged siblings to a class but there is not a class that covers all the siblings' ages, please email Mme. Rebecca (oldtownfrench@gmail.com).  Certain classes can accommodate younger or older siblings and Mme. Rebecca can help you find the right class for your children's ages.

How can we practice French at home?

Every week, children and families go home with a sheet summarizing the songs, words and cultural interests focused on that week.  You also have access to many of the songs we used in class.  Listening, singing and dancing to the music at home is a great way to reinforce what we've learned in class.   Reading books is another great way to practice.  Please see Learning at home.

Can I make up a class?

If another class has a spot open, you may have one make up one class per session due to a child's illness pending availability in another class. If another class is full, a make up class cannot be offered in this class. When you sign up for a class you are committing to all the classes in the session in that class. I am committed to having small class sizes (8-9 children max in each class) and to creating a sense of community in each class so children are comfortable learning.  In order for classes to run smoothly and in order to create a sense of community in each class, one make up class per session due to illness is all I can allow ( and it is pending availability). Please do not send your child to class if s/he has a fever or is contagious.  I cannot accommodate families' absences due to travel or other reasons.

May I have a refund for my class?

Yes. Refunds can be given before the second week of class.   Because of the small class size(8 children max.), materials bought and extensive planning based on the numbers of each class, it is not feasible to give refunds after the second class of the session. No refunds or prorated credit will be given for late arrivals, early departures and absences. 

May my child try a class before I decide to take an entire session?

Yes.  If you are a new student, you may try the first week of class as a trial class (if the class is not full). Then you can let me know after the first class  if you would like to attend the full session.  Payment is required by the second class for new students.  Sometimes you may try a class during the session as well(pending availability).   There is a free trial class offered in September as well.  Please email Mme. Rebecca if you would like to try a class.