Why it’s Hard to Learn Languages in School
Although it is common for people to have taken a French class at some point in High School or University in Canada, it is less common for those people to consider themselves fluent in the language. Some people had to take French class, and others were genuinely interested and hoped that taking a class in school was all they needed to become semi-fluent in the language. Well unfortunately, for most people, that isn’t the case, and it doesn’t take them long to realize that all they’re retaining from the class is “Bonjour” and “Est-ce que je peux aller aux toilettes?”. It’s not as easy as it seems to learn a language in school. But that’s not a reason to give up, rather a reason to look elsewhere for ways to learn the language.
What’s the problem with French classes in School?
The problem with French class in school is that it is often too by-the-book, and well… for a lack of better words it’s boring! In order to learn a language effectively it’s important to feel interested and engaged when learning. If you just feel like you’re studying and reading endless grammar rules, any student would lose interest and start day-dreaming by the end of class. It is natural that students don’t want to do something they don’t enjoy, so piles of homework and stressful tests don’t help very much. One of the main problems with the way French classes are structured in school, is that most students are studying to pass the class, not to actually learn the language. There is a difference between getting a good grade in French class and being proficient in the language. You can study hard the day before a test and get an A+, but what happens after the test? Are you proficient in French? Can you carry a conversation in the language? Oftentimes after a test, students simply breathe a sigh of relief, and are happy to get that burden off their shoulders. They may not speak the language afterwards, and they may find that even though they got good grades, they retained nothing.
The other problem with school is that many students get behind in class, they might not be as strong academically as others or maybe they’re disinterested (and who can blame them with the way languages are usually taught in school), these students become discouraged and tend to give up on the class. But you don’t need to be the top student to learn French, in fact it doesn’t matter at all, as the top student might not be the most fluent or the most passionate about the language. Anyone can learn French, but not everyone can learn French through school classes. Very few people actually can learn a language through school, since there is a lot that is missing from them.
What is needed in French classes?
It is important to focus on the fascinating aspects of the language; the culture, the countries, the people… This is what draws people to a language in the first place. This gives people true motivation to learn a language, which is stronger than the motivation to learn a language just because you’re forced to take the class or to get good grades in the class. Personal motivation that comes from a passion for the language will take you much further in the language, as it encourages discipline to study out of genuine interest. This interest will not only inspire you to get better at the language, but it will also increase your likelihood of using the language in the future. So, it is essential to explore the aspects of a culture that can trigger fascination and wonder, rather than bombard students with grammar rules and piles of homework.
It is also important to immerse students in the language, and although French immersion accomplishes this to a certain degree, there is still room for improvement. Students should feel like they’re in a French environment, and they should be encouraged to express themselves in the language to their friends and classmates. With enough French in their surroundings, they will naturally absorb the language and retain it more easily, and with time they will become more comfortable expressing themselves. If the environment is not immersive enough, students will either not learn very much, or forget what they’ve learned because it is not being used or practiced. If you let your knowledge of a language sit in your head unused and collect dust, you will be surprised how quickly you can forget it, and you will be right back at square one before you know it.
But if you take your gaze away from schools for language learning, you will see that there are better paths that lead to proficiency in a language, programs and classes that have what classes in High Schools are vitally missing.
Our French Classes at Le Petit Écolier
Take our company for example. The difference with our French programs is that we ensure that first and foremost the students are interested and engaged in the language learning experience. We teach in a manner that is not mundane and repetitive like schools, instead we thrive in a fun and curiosity-driven learning environment. Our students enjoy learning different aspects of French culture and are passionate about it, and they learn because they are fascinated and want to actually speak French. We accomplish this and help make the language appealing with the unique way that we teach and present the language to them, and by making each step of the learning process enjoyable and interesting.
We also take pride in our immersion of the language and the overall French atmosphere present in our classes. With our friendly staff who are native French speakers, students can truly experience and absorb the language and confidently learn to speak it in turn. Our immersion encourages them to be comfortable expressing themselves in French with the teachers and friends they meet in classes, as their fellow classmates all share the common goal of becoming proficient in the language.
We also make sure no one is left behind, contrary to schools, where the students who aren’t as strong academically are left out to dry. We ensure that everyone is learning and getting the help they need along the language learning journey no matter how slow or difficult it may seem for them at first. Anyone can learn a language; they just need the proper attention and motivation to do it. We give attention to everyone who needs help, and we also keep motivation high by keeping the learning process fun.
Fun is a key element to learning a language because fun sparks emotions, and when there are emotions in the learning process, you will remember what you learned more vividly. That’s why we include many activities in our classes, and our lovely teachers always ensure enjoyment levels are high!
So, if you’re looking to teach your kids French, or maybe you tried to learn French yourself in High School and you are thinking about trying again, know that learning a language through classes in school is not the only way to learn, and it is certainly not the best way! Feel free to contact us and sign your kids up for our classes at Le Petit Écolier for a truly fun and effective French learning experience and join our adult classes if you yourself want to join the fun!