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English resources for a 5-year-old north of Paris
Thread poster: Terry Gilman

Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:38
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Sep 16, 2006

My sister's 5-year-old daughter Julia didn't make the cut for the local weekly English-learning playgroup/classes (too many applicants). This was a valuable experience for her older brother, 9.

They are disappointed and wondering what else they can do this winter to help Julia improve her fluency. My sister speaks (American) English exclusively to the kids, reads to them, etc., but she's not plugged into an English community, so Julia's daily exposure to English is basically in the morning and evening with her mom and her older brother.

I offered to do some research, including asking here for any suggestions you might have for books, activities, computer games, and programs in the Chantilly area that they might not know about. If you live in the area and are in a similar situation, there might even be the possibility of connecting (but I don't want to be pushy about that aspect, it's just a thought).

Many thanks in advance!
Terry


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Olga Dubeshka  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:38
Russian to English
+ ...
mom advice Sep 17, 2006

Some internet resources :

http://disney.com and
http://pbskids.org

Provided they have easy access to the internet , of course.
They have tons of games, word puzzles, songs, stories and even TV (cartoons) they can watch in English , all FREE. Lots of fav. characters (from Mickey Mouse , Winnie-The-Pooh to Elmo ) and definitely very kids-friendly. Even my 1,5 yr old loves it !

I am sure there is tons of other sites , but those are arguably the best . Even Yahoo! has a kids section, but I think it is for older kids. You can research and find many more I am sure.

AS for all else (books, games ) , the best choice for least money would be on e-bay or amazon.com . Slightly used kids books/games can be bought for next to nothing, but you will have to cover the shipping.

I wish I could arrange a playdate, but the travel to US might be too much for the little ones


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:38
Member
English
+ ...
Long live Cbeebies! Sep 17, 2006

Hi there,

my daughter's English improved remarkably when the BBC went free to air on satellite and we got access to their children's channel cbeebies. No adverts, no violence, no inappropriate content. The only channel you feel you can leave your child watching for fifteen minutes without you - knowing they are not getting brainwashed.

They also have an excellent website - which is self contaiend and (as far as I know) doesn't contain links off site - so they can't wander into inappropriate areas, either.

Here is the link to the web:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/

Good luck,

Berni

Dad to Jana (11/98)
OPOL Dad ENG Mum SP - Catalan in the streets & school.


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:38
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you both very much! Sep 17, 2006

This is just what we were (in our vague way) looking for.

Disney especially has a place in our family history (Sunday nights at 7:30 in the 1960s, Emil and the Detectives, Galliger (a newspaper boy), Old Yeller, and The Scarecrow were among my favorites.)
And I very dimly remembered that the wonderful BBC had produced programming for children learning English.

Thank you very much for the links.

Terry


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:38
German to English
+ ...
American Women's Club Sep 18, 2006

Hi Terry,

Maybe your sister could contact the American Women's Club in Paris to ask for advice/possible resources. My sister worked with them when she lived in Paris. They would certainly know about such opportunities (even if the social events are not her cup of tea).

Maybe there is another playgroup? Or (assuming she is home to do so) she could start her own with the "overflow" from the other one. Our Latvian playgroup in Chicago is basically a bunch of families on a YahooGroup with an address list. We meet every Friday from 10-12 at a different member's house and organize the calendar via the YahooGroup.

A few other things that have helped us keep up Latvian in our house have been meeting up with Latvian friends, listening to Latvian music in the car, attending Latvian camp, listening to Latvian story CDs before bed (and there are amazing English-language ones!), alternating reading books in English/Latvian before bedtime, Latvian placemats at the dinner table with the alphabet and numbers, etc. Any little thing helps - just keep at it constantly.

A trip to England (even though it's not US English) to do something Julia loves might be just the ticket. A trip to Latvia in 2004 helped my older daughter immensely.

Those are just a few thoughts.

Good luck to your sister's family!
Daina

[Edited at 2006-09-18 13:39]


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:38
German to English
+ ...
A few specific resources Sep 18, 2006

I thought I would also mention a few of the specific books on CD we like to listen to in English:

Sharon Kennedy - Irish Folktales for Children, More Irish Folktales for Children (the accent is "stage Irish" probably, but the stories are extremely entertaining).

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl audiobook read by Jeremy Irons (Jeremy Irons!)

Elizabeth Falconer (she is a storyteller who plays the koto and uses that instrument for sound effects) - Hana and the Dragon and Other Tales from Japan, Plum Boy and Other Tales from Japan, Once Upon a Lily Pad

Kate Dicamillo - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (fantastic for adults, too)

My older daughter also loves "The Spiderwick Chronicles" by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, but it's about fairies/elves/trolls, etc. and there's some blood and guts in that one, so check it out first. Probably more appropriate for Julia's brother's age group.

Right now the girls are going through CDs of Heidi and The Wizard of Oz I picked up at the dollar store.

We also had some old audio tapes of Dr. Seuss stories that are good - don't know if those are available on CD, though.

HTH!

[Edited at 2006-09-18 13:51]


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:38
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, too, Daina! Sep 20, 2006

Thank you for both your posts! I especially like the idea of going to the UK!

My sister and I were reminiscing yesterday about our great LP collection, esp. "Treasure Island." Sept 19 is evidently "Talk Like a Pirate Day" meaning like Long John Silver/Robert Newton who broke the mold.

You've given me a great shopping list, too. Of the books you mention, Heidi, Oz, and The Peach are the only ones I know (my brother and I adored Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Other ones we liked were The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, about running away from suburban Connecticut to live in the Metropolitan Museum, and Johnny Tremain - but that's 8-12, not 5-year-old territory.

Many thanks also from my sister!
All the best,
Terry


[Edited at 2006-09-20 13:46]


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:38
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
same situation for my 4-year old Jan 13, 2007

I'm based on the other end of the Paris suburbs and have the same issue. I speak American English to the kids (4 and 1 1/2) around my outside-the-home work schedule.
We supplement that by buying a lot of used video cassettes and CDs each year from the Fontainbleau bilingual school at the local community sale and ask my family in the US to send us CDs and DVDs on everything they find. The kids probably watch more English on the TV than French since we know that this is an important English input mechanism for them.
We've probably got more children's books in English than in French, so I read 1-2 to the kids in the evenings. I've got Jungle Book, Dr. Seuss, Peter Pan and a lot of other stories memorized by now.
Up till now my 4-year old has always replied to me in French although I have always spoken to him in English. Then my sister and brother and their families with children came to visit us this past Christmas, and the household became English-only speaking for 10 days. That forced him to have to express himself in English during that period to everyone else. He is now sometimes saying parts of sentences to me in English as well as French.
Another suggestion that a British friend of ours (living here in France) did a number of years back for her kids was to have an au-pair girl from the UK come stay with them for a school year. She said that it significantly improved the kids' English level.

Jeff


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