Encourage reading in French!
By Grade 4 or 5, you’ll wonder why you ever worried about reading in English! By that time, immersion students are much more likely to do their leisure reading in English.1 Because reading is so fundamental to the development of language skills (vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.), this is a worrying tendency. The less exposure to French, the more slowly their second-language proficiency will develop, while even if a small proportion of his or her reading is in French, an active reader will get much more exposure to this language than a child who reads little.
Teachers do what they can to promote independent reading in French by providing incentives, time to read in class, and access to appropriate and interesting books and other materials. Here are a few ways you can encourage reading in French:
- find materials on subjects that your child is especially interested in (don’t forget non-fiction, such as materials on a hobby, sport or scientific topic);
- look for materials which allow him to get satisfaction from reading a small amount at a time: short stories, magazines, comic books, reference books, etc.;
- trade stories: he reads a story to you in French, you read one to him in English.
For example, in an article entitled “Reading for Pleasure in French: A Study of the Reading Habits and Interests of French Immersion Children”, the authors report on the voluntary reading patterns of 127 Calgary students in Grade 5. Although they had not begun to study English language arts until grade 3, 85% said that they found it easier to read in English than in French. The students spent an average of 33 minutes a day reading English books, comics, newspapers, and/or magazines outside of school, but only 4½ minutes reading French books and other materials. – J. Claude Romney, David M. Romney, and Helen M. Menzies. Canadian Modern Language Review 51, 3, April 1995, pp. 474–511.