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Jul 2, 2009

Resources to teach American kids French

UPDATE:
I discovered an online store that sells books and DVDs in a variety of foreign languages (DVDs coded for region 1). It's World of Reading. Among others, they have a lot of Dora DVDs in French, and they are a hit with our 18-month toddler. They require toddler participation in speaking, dancing and pointing at objects, which he enjoys a lot.
Although they look like a small company, customer service was great and shipping was fast. Highly recommended.

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Recently, I was at a park with our baby, and I met a mom who was fascinated by the fact that Daniel is learning 3 languages. She heard me speak to him in French and him respond in French and/or English and/or German (yes, it's still a little bit random at this age), and she thought it was exciting. As I have written in previous articles, raising a trilingual kid isn't an easy task every day. But the expectation is that Daniel will be able to sort out the languages eventually and find himself trilingual at a young age.
The mom I met has a good knowledge of French, and she started thinking that she might want to pass this along to her kids from an early age as well. She asked me where to find resources to support her, in order to surround her kids with French, were she to start teaching them French. I told her the following, and I thought other people might be interested too.

Overall, there are a lot of resources to teach American kids French, from books, DVDs, music, etc... Buying online is probably the easiest way.
* Online Search results show a high number of hits for searches around French titles, and I would definitely recommend starting there if you have something specific in mind.
* Amazon.com itself has a lot of titles in various languages. For French alone, the current offering is 48,000 books, ~100 DVDs and ~200 CDs. This is more than enough for a young kid to absorb!
* Additionally, you can look for the Canadian websites of Amazon and eBay. Amazon Canada has a francophone section, and eBay Canada offers a lot of deep catalogue/older French titles.
* Finally, visiting playgrounds in the Bay Area turns out to be another great way to surround kids with French, as I have found out myself: I met 3 other French-speaking families in 2 different playgrounds in the last month! OK, I admit, this was just coincidence, and I wouldn't count on this as a plan to help kids learn French. But still, many kids around here are raised with various languages. You might be able to find French-speaking playgroups in your area that would love to invite you.

Finding resources shouldn't be the bottleneck in trying to teach American kids French, and I hope you will find this encouraging. I think the key is consistency and discipline, and this is harder. That said, I would argue that any exposure to a foreign language is a great starting point, so go ahead and try it!
I hope this is helpful, and I welcome other suggestions to find French-speaking materials for kids in the US.

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