Everyone knows how beneficial it is to children’s brain development when they learn a second language, and so if you are looking for some ways to help introduce French to your children, there are some great resources around. Here is a list of our favorite mp3s, DVDs, books, websites, learning systems, and apps that will help your children learn this beautiful language.
DVDs to help Kids Learn Kids
There are few DVDs around to help teach kids French, but there aren’t really as many as you would think, and the quality of the DVDs can be pretty hit and miss. Here are a few of the better quality DVDs (check your local library there is a good chance they will have at least one or two of these):
- Bonjour Les Amis Vol. 1 is a simple 40 minute DVD that is good for kids ages 0-5. It introduces basic vocabulary that isn’t challenging, so it’s great for younger kids.
- French for Kids DVD Set: Simple Words & Number and Colours is a newer DVD with nice modern graphics. The words it introduces are very basic but serves as a good introduction for small kids.
- Little Pim French is a pretty good DVD for kids ages 0 to 5. There are six DVDs in the series that include topics “Eating and Drinking,” “Happy, Sad and Silly,” “In my Home,” Play,” “Wake up Smiling,” and “I Can Count.” The quality of the DVDs is high compared with other language DVDs we’ve come across. They have pleasant music, are engaging (our kids were very happy to watch the entire DVD), and there is the Panda Cartoon with silly segments mixed in with footage of kids performing everyday activities. The segments are arranged in five-minute episodes so you can watch the whole video or just a lesson or two depending on how your child is responding to it.
- Professor Toto is a DVD that you might want to have a look at for a child who is aged 6-12. With these DVDs, you get an English version of the DVD and also a French version of the DVD, so you watch a segment in French, then you replay that same segment in English, so the child becomes familiarized with the story. You also get a full script of what is said in the videos in both languages. Professor Toto was released in 2004, so the graphics look modern enough to keep kids engaged. The material is presented clearly and pronounced correctly, and it also has a lot of repetition and pleasantly catchy songs.
An easy way to get kids used to a new language is to listen to a good CD or MP3. The more the kids hear a language, the more open they will be to the language as they get older. A couple of CDs that we have used and really like are Beth Manner’s Fun French for Kids and also the Beth Manners Magic French for Kids. These CDs (or downloads) are useful because they have a combination of lessons and super catchy songs.
Another good Audio CD/MP3 that you could try is French for Kids: Cha, Cha, Cha. This CD has fifteen songs about things like months of the year, numbers, vowels, etc. that are fun for kids. This CD is one of Dr. Toy’s top 10 educational toys for 2012.
Free Children’s Language Websites
For older kids, a great website to check out is DuoLingo. This is my new favorite language site. It is completely free, and there are no ads. It is a sort of gamified way of learning a language. You can set a daily goal that you want to achieve, and then you complete a lesson by mostly translating short phrases and answering questions. You can probably do this with a younger child if a parent is going to help the child with the lesson.
Since most kids love playing computer games, there is an excellent free game website for kids called French Games; it has topics, lessons, and games. Another fun site with games for kids is this Quia site. If you want even more games, you can always try these Play and Learn games.
A good site that has general activities and different lessons is this About page that is all about French education. It is very informative and has super useful tips and ideas on language education.
Radio Canada’s website has clips and short videos of some of its French-language programming, to help your kids get used to hearing spoken language.
Mama Lisa has a fantastic selection of French songs for kids, so if you need some free songs for kids, this is where you want to go.
For basic vocabulary lessons, an excellent site to try is Languages Online. Or another site with a similar setup is Language Guide. It lets kids practice their vocabulary, expressions, the alphabet, and numbers. You can listen to all the vocabulary aloud and then test your audio comprehension and speaking skills.
YouTube has a great selection of online lessons that your kids can watch, a series or channel that I like a lot for kids is this one from Frencheezee.
Kids who know a bit of the language already might like Du Plaisir à Lire. It has games and activities.
Books to Help Kids Learn
French for Children is a great book that has a mix of written and spoken language. Of all the books that we bought, this was the one that our kids enjoy looking at and listening to the most. It’s got fun lessons and quizzes as well the cd is another excellent option to bring along in the car.
The Everything Kids’ Learning French Book The Everything Kids series is always a good investment for most topics that may want to learn about. This book is no exception. It has a lot of fun activities that will keep your kids motivated and excited about learning.
Language Learning Systems
There are a lot of language systems around that are marketed toward teaching kids new languages, most of them are pretty old and not that great, you would be better off watching a few YouTube videos and looking at websites. Having said that there are a couple of newer language systems that are quite popular including:
- PetraLingua is an online multimedia language course for kids aged 3-12. They have language lessons with videos. They have some free content as well as paid. You can do this course through DVDs or online.
- Dino Lingo This is a bit of a pricey course (around $160), but the idea of it is that it is a fully immersive course, so it includes a lot of different materials. The system uses DVDs, books, flashcards, games, songs, and online lessons, so your child can have an immersive experience with lots of different options to help them learn.
- Wink to Learn is a whole language system that uses flashcards, and DVDs or Streaming Video. You can try out a free trial or the sites streaming video or digital flashcards.
- Learn French – MindSnacks is a fun educational app that uses mini-games to teach and re-enforce vocabulary. If you are getting this for a child, they will need to have some knowledge of French, and they will need to be able to read and write. Cost: Free for the first level. You can upgrade for $4.99 to get all 50 levels. For use on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad Age: 10+
- French Baby Flash Cards has Educational Baby Flash Cards features over 450 high-quality images with text and voiceovers. Cost: Free with in-app purchases available. For use on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
- play2learn French HD COMPLETE lets kids explore words by tapping an item on the screen to hear its name pronounced by the speaker. Cost:$ 1.99 with additional content available as In-App purchase – 18 extra sets in 3 bundles. For use on iPad.
- Play & Learn French – Speak & Talk Fast With Easy Games includes Game Mode and Learn Mode and has over 700 everyday words and phrases to explore. Cost $2.99. For use on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.