It’s All French to Me! (How can I help my child if I don’t speak French?)

It’s All French to Me! It’s All French to Me! (How can I help my child if I don’t speak French?) Adapted from The French Immersion program is designed for children who do not speak French at home, so don’t worry at all if you do not speak French. Here are just a few of the many ways you can help your child reach their full potential in school.

1) Read with your child every day.

The Public Library has books, CDs, and videos available in many different languages for free. In French or in your home language, you can listen/read books online, at the library, at home, or read books from school. Building strong reading skills will help your child in every other subject too. If your child is just learning to read, make it fun. Encourage them and praise them on things they do well. Pick 2-3 words that are throughout the book and correct those, but don’t correct every error. Try to keep the reading at their level. One quick way to figure this out, is if there are 5 words on a page that are hard for your child, the book is probably too hard. If your child can read to themselves, you can still read books with them. This lets you enjoy time together and helps them learn to love reading as much as you do. You can also listen to your child read in French, and ask them questions about it, but try not to ask them to give you a translation of the book. Instead, help them to think about what they read. Does it remind them of anything they’ve done or read before? What was the problem and how was it solved? What was the most interesting thing they learned from the book? What could they do to learn more about that topic?

2) Develop your child’s skills in the language you use at home. Whatever your child’s first language is, the language you speak together at home, read to them in that language. You can also talk about movies or books, write letters or emails to family members, or help your child read to you in their first language. The tricks of reading are the same in most languages: sound it out, look at the pictures, ask themself if it makes sense, break words into pieces to sound them out, start at the top and to one side of the page, etc. You can help your child use these tricks in their first language, and these skills will help them learn to read French too.

3) Stay informed about what is being taught in school. Read school and class newsletters, talk with your child’s teacher, ask your child about school. What did they write about today? What was their easiest math question today? What book did they read in school today? The more you know about what they are learning, the more you can help them with these topics, using their first language. This is our school website. It’s a great way to find out what is going on at school so you can talk with your child in your home language about what they are learning and doing in French at school.

4) Be positive about learning French. Encourage your child as they learn the language. Celebrate their achievements.

5) Go online. This is the site for Canadian Parents for French – Hamilton Chapter. Click on Tips and Resources for more ideas of things to do with your child. More tips for parents. This site leads to other websites such as online lessons, dictionaries and fun activities. Click on the tumblebook library to see, hear and read some great stories! Radio-Canada. French games. Links for young learners. TFO is a Canadian French tv station. Try “jeux” for some games too.

6) Homework routines lead to good work habits. Create a space at home for your child to read and do homework, and make it part of their daily routine. This will teach them responsibility, self-discipline, and give them extra practise at home. These skills will carry them far in school and beyond, and shows them that school is important to you too. In writing, strong writers usually do a rough copy, look for mistakes and then write a good copy. This works in any language. Teaching them this ensures they think about what they are doing and hand in their best work. In math, the strategies you use in English are the same as they need to use in French. Read the question more than once. If you don’t understand a math question, look for an example in the book. For word problems, see if they can draw a picture of the problem so it makes more sense. Reinforce math facts (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing) at home, so that those parts of the questions become easier. To study for tests, even up to the intermediate grades, students will need make time, read, practise, write down the important information, figure out what the important information is, and work with that information until it sticks. Making a quiet study space and supporting these skills at home will help your child learn how to study.


For more information, please consult the Government of Ontario’s Parent Guide “Supporting Your Child’s Success in French Immersion and Extended French Elementary Schools”


It’s All French to Me! (How can I help my child if I don’t speak French?)