March 9, 2012
French Class

I can't remember whether I vented about the surprising difficulty that I had finding a non-drop off program of some kind for Elizabeth and I to do in French, open to non-francophone households, not consisting of skating or swimming, not consisting of activities that aren't recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Association for Elizabeth's age group (ahem trampoline) and not conflicting with church. Apparently that qualifies as impossibly picky. Anyway, there was exactly one option that met my criteria: a music class which was promptly cancelled due to lack of registration. Apparently most Ottawan non-francophone households are waiting for school age before introducing French.


Have you tried the library? Someone asked. The "bilingual" toddlertime program at our library consisted of singing a single song in French. I tried a couple of other libraries, but it turned out they had boosted their attendance by converting to a storytime aimed primarily at older children. I gave up after one started playing a video (!) in lieu of reading actual books. The video was not in French, either.


I was invited to a "francophone" families only playgroup after a rather nerve-wracking oral quiz, but I quit going as soon as Elizabeth started talking. Many of the other kids were only talking in English too, but coupled with my tendency to freeze up and forget all my grammar and pronunciation I found that I was just not comfortable going.


So you can imagine how delighted I was to find the groupe de jeux at Marius Barbeau. It's a bit more structured than the Mothercraft version, which works better for Elizabeth. Lots of things to play with. A slide. An optional craft. Snacktime. More playing. Circle time where the kids have to say their own name (it only took Elizabeth two visits to start talking!) We've been going once or twice a week for a couple of months now and we've really noticed a difference in Elizabeth's comprehension. Plus she's started to use a few words here and there - even when she's playing. Some of her babies seem to be francophone, which Mommy and Daddy think is quite interesting.


And she's named her white rabbit puppet "Sandy", after her "French class teacher".

On March 24, 2012 at 04:10 pm
Grandpa H said:
"tendency to freeze up and forget all my grammar and pronunciation" - I can identify with that, it was how I felt for our first several years in Belgium, and sometimes now. But take courage, all that stands between you and effective communication in French is your genetic drive for perfection - which didn't hold you back during those first years in Belgium ;)

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