Having started teaching in france
a couple of weeks ago I have noticed that the children
have particular difficulty pronouncing the words and the letters as well as the letter combinations. It is especially apparent as I have a 6 year old who is just learning to read and write in french
. She automatically reads them out the way she would in french
as this is how she is being taught to read. I have to teach her the different ways we pronounce different letter combinations such as ‘ou’ or ‘ee’ or ‘ea’, for her these are very different from in french
Another sound the children
are having particular problems pronouncing is the ‘th’, this sound doesn’t exist in french
and is therefore a completely new sound and way of using their mouths that the children
need to acquire.
In fact having lived in france
for several years and having spoken french
with my friends as well as english
I have noticed that most of the french
people having learnt english
in school have learnt to speak english
with the french
accent. I once did the experiment of talking to someone in english
with the english
accent and she didn’t understand what I was saying, whereas if I said the same thing to her with a french
accent, all of a sudden everything made sense and she understood what I was saying. I believe this to put most french
people at a disadvantage because the french
speak with an entirely different area of their mouths than the english
. The french
seem to speak from the back of their throats whereas the english
use the front of their mouths much more, and when the french
do use the front of their mouths, the english
would revert to using their throat.
I tried teaching my students the similarities to the french
language pronunciations as they are learning to speak but I have found that it is much easier for them to remember sounds and pronunciations if I make it a game to them. Instead of reminding them the similarities, I make a little song about the sound or we have a pronunciation game or a repetition/ chorus moment. This way the children
remember that we spent some time on this sound and it becomes something that they have fun trying to pronounce the right way.
Having studied the similarities to the english
language, I have noticed that a lot of the sounds we make in our respective languages are the same but we don’t use the same spelling.
For an adult, showing the similarities, and teaching the spelling of these sounds, and comparing them, I would expect would be enough for them to learn and understand. But for the young learner, this isn’t sufficient, as I said earlier, the children
are learning to read in their mother tongue, so how can they be expected to remember that it’s the same in english
but it’s written differently. As a second language teacher
, I don’t want to take away from their mother tongue; I am not looking to confuse my students.
Adults have the advantage that they already know their own language, and can use it to their benefit. children
have the advantage that as young learners
it is easier to remember new things. As their teacher
I must use this and not try to teach them the similarities, but try to teach them that this is a new language.
If I start trying to teach them that the languages are the same but different they will only try to speak english
with a french
accent, therefore not learning to communicate with an english
person, but learning to communicate in english
with other french