Classical Academic Press’ French for Children {With an Amazing Giveaway!}

My eleven year old son has quite the love for foreign languages. Since we hosted an exchange student from France, he has been studying French informally, using various online videos and podcasts. He even started a notebook of his own with the words he knows but I know from my own experience studying languages, that at some point we need to formalize our learning. There is so much more than just memorizing words and having a proper pronunciation (as important as those things are).




In the last few years we have got through quite a bit of materials because of his interest in languages. We have studied Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and a bit of Hebrew, some Latin and Greek…I was wary to invest in more materials for him while at the same time eager to encourage this interest of his. So when I happened to see that Classical Academic Press (whose materials I really do love!) had a program,  French for ChildrenI had to learn more.  Perhaps this would be “just right” for him.




Their motto is “Classical Subjects Creatively Taught,” which is something that really strikes me because, that is how I want to see learning happening. There is such power in learning that is engaging, and encourages creativity.  This kind of learning is what inspires and makes kids into lovers of lifelong learning too. And I want to see that as much as possible with my children.



The complete program of French for Children Primer A includes the following:


French for Children Primer AFrench for Children Answer KeyFrench for Children DVD




Classical Academic Press was so very generous in giving me a copy of this curriculum for review purposes, and so I here I am, sharing our experience with you!  French for Children, Primer A is recommended for grades 4 and up. There are 17 Chapters and they offer a variety of weekly schedules to help you complete this program in half a year or an academic year (thirty weeks).  We appreciated having these to use as guides as we study.  Especially since we tend to be so relaxed in our schooling; without incentive we can sometimes park on a topic for weeks! And while I love to encourage that too, there is great value in learning how to complete things in a timely fashion!




French for Children has a very immersion style feel to the program! They use lots of dialogue, translation, vocabulary, dictation, grammar, and there are quizzes too. We used this quite a bit since my oldest son really needs this kind of thing to reinforce what he is learning. Plus it encouraged him to start his own little “Book of French Vocabulary” to track his learning for himself. He even began to record himself “teaching other kids French” as he learns. Now they may seem impossible, too much – but it really isn’t at all. This is all presented in such a way that it really is quite enjoyable!




French for Children Primer: Chant and Audio Files contains all of the pronunciations as well as dialogues, grammar chart chants, complete vocabulary, conversation journal words and phrases, Say It Aloud exercises, dicteés, and lots more! These files are great to load onto an mp3 for listening to or even as we are in the car, for some of our longer drives. (And right now we do have a few of those!)  This was an especially great resource for my son!


This is a very involved and very thorough course. I admit when I saw everything that this was made up of, I was a bit concerned that my son was going to be in over his head.  I admit, I was not sure this would inspire my son to continue learning. I will say, I was thrilled to find my son eagerly completing lessons and watching the videos each day. Often I would even find him repeating lessons previously completed; again the fact that he chose to complete lessons repeatedly even, its a huge compliment to this program.  In a season in which he has really been struggling with a desire to learn those beautiful and good things, seeing this light a love within him, it warms this momma’s heart.



We jumped right in when this arrived. And we learned after the fact that it really is important to watch the first DVD before beginning. This will give you a better understanding of this course while helping you to understand the structure of the lessons and explaining all of the different aspects that are a part of it this program.


We really are enjoying our use of this program, there are just so many wonderful things about it. The level of immersion that is used within the program; the depth and yet the simplicity and fun that is had in the learning process too….It’s refreshing to see children having so much fun learning.



Listen to the Dialogue – There is a story being told; as you listen to the audio follows along while listening to the audio. This is partly in French, partly in English and introduces new vocabulary. She gets an idea of what the new words mean from the context and tells me what she thinks is happening. The dialogue translation is in the back of the Student Text.



Chant – phrases & sets of words to learn proper pronunciation. My son will put on his headphones and listen. I love hearing him speak he has quite good pronunciation if I may say so myself.



Vocabulary – There are about ten new words to each chapter. My son writes these in his notebook of French words he knows and he likes to go over these throughout the week.
Video – The videos are about 45 minutes long; these are full of information. There are times my son will watch one video in one sitting; other times he may watch a little here and there throughout the week. These are very helpful to my son (me too!) and there are times we will watch a video again because there really is so much you can get out of these.


Grammar – There is grammatical instruction involved in this course; this is taught very creatively so its not overwhelming at all.


Worksheets & Quizzes – Within these are exercises in translation, verb forms, grammar exercises, charts to complete.These are all great for reinforcing what is being learned.


La dictée – The dictation exercises are all on the CD. Interestingly, in France dictations are done similar to our version of the spelling bee. Sounds like a really fun thing to me!




I have been trying to be diligent in practicing more the methods of Miss Charlotte Mason in our home education and I have to say this is something that fits into her ways so very well. We are reading right now too (because it was mentioned in the Introduction, The Fables of Jean de La Fontaine) and seeing as we go along how the dialogues within this program weave together into these tales. What a wonderful and creative way to help engage our children as they learn!




As you begin your studies in Primer A learning subjects and verbs; infinitives, verb conjugation, tense and noun gender you not only learn these things but you write them and read them and say them. You use them so that they are more than just another lesson to complete but are a cultural immersion experience. As a former exchange student and a host mom to many exchange students along the way, immersion is a wonderful (probably the best) way to learn any language. And as you learn, you create your own conversation journals and fun dialogues to practice conversation, letter writing and so much more! I haven’t fund yet a better and more enjoyable way to learn than this.





Since we have been using this we have also been encouraging regular use of additional songs and stories in French, to listen and read along. We even have a couple primers we are using to read, online, in French, that my son is really enjoying.  I remember reading not long ago that if you really want to learn a foreign language, reading and writing it and hearing it again and again, is the way to go. This program is just that.




Classical Academic Press has for your review a 64 page pdf from French for Children: Primer A  the student text you can download and try out if you want to learn more about this program. There is also a free audio MP3 sample and the you can watch the video below, this is the first chapter in the program  (it is about 45 mins long). If you have a student who is interested in learning French, maybe they even learned a bit already, this is a wonderful program to consider.  And there is always for some fun practice!





You have a chance to win!

Classical Academic Press are giving away two French for Children: Primer A bundles for USA residents! Just use the Rafflecopter form below —

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ Schoolhouse Review Crew

  We recently had such an exciting opportunity come our way.  I think I have mentioned in the past my oldest son (who is 9) his fascination and desire to learn the Chinese language. In the last year, I have learned that this is a seriously difficult thing to do. While I am mostly fluent in German and my husband has some skills in the Spanish language, neither of us has any (or has been successful) in helping our son along in this quest of his. Enter in Middlebury Interactive Languages and their online interactive course, Elementary Chinese 1, for grades 3-5.  This program is for 6 months, all courses are purchased by semester.

Who is Middlebury Interactive Languages?  This is an amazing program, interactive foreign language courses, online for grades K-12. You can choose from advanced and AP level courses for high school or Elementary and Middle School. These courses are all designed to give children a multi-sensory approach to learning a language while also given them the experience of immersion which means they do  not only hear and speak it, but they also learn to write it; they study grammar, and the culture itself. This chart can show you the online languages available at this time, at each grade level offered:

There are seven units covered in this course; starting with numbers going from there through greetings, home and family, food, colors, adjectives and school. Each unit contains six lessons to work through which test them on the material they are learning, a learning and speech lab for them to record themselves practicing the words they learn. The final unit is a review of the material that has been learned. We started immediately when we received our login information. You can access lessons by clicking on the menu and then choosing Calendar or Table Contents. The Calendar provides you with the appropriate lesson for each day. You then click the play button to view the material within the list. For the most part this is what my son did during his time on the program. I think it helped him a lot too, seeing it all organized and being able to track his progress. He also really likes to see how close he is to the finish line. A sense of accomplishment I suppose?

My son who is 9 used the Elementary Chinese course 3-5 days a week.  Some days we repeated previous lessons; since only the instructions are in English, it took some time to get the focus needed both visually and audibly.  All of the words are shown in both pinyin and character. I really like this myself, because since there is work to be done on character memorization while learning to speak, its a bit of extra reinforcement.  They also teach the stroke order for characters. Very helpful. The one thing that was a bit bothersome for my son was how fast some of the words were said. There were a couple that we just could not understand. Perhaps if there was a way to slow down the audio; there were notes for pronunciation below the words but with very little understanding of the basics, it was still quite a  challenge some days. On the bright side my son cracked his brother and sister up a few times trying to say it just right. I was very impressed with the ability to print off copies of the full story, along with a nice explanation and also a list of the vocabulary for each unit. These are all found in the final lesson for each unit; we have taken to printing them out right away to use along with the lessons for each unit. It is a helpful tool to have as we go along.  As we have gone along though, I have to say, with how involved these lessons are, I do wish we had more than 6 months for the course; so much we have gone back to review, I am not sure we will complete this all in six months and have good retention of the material learned. I love how they teach (written and oral all together) but I do see it as being a lot (at least for this language) to take in. Regardless we are thoroughly enjoying our experience with this program!

This is an amazing introductory course, to the Chinese language. It is so fun, such an interactive experience to the language (spoken and written) as well as this unique culture itself.. Each unit is based on a story, myth or legend from the Chinese culture. The focus is primarily on vocabulary, yet there are also many basic grammar principles which can be seen throughout the stories, games, activities, and assessments. There are also tasks for each student to learn and perform within these units. It is an amazing way for anyone to begin to read, write, speak and listen in the Chinese language; at the same time we learn to recognize distinct practices within the Chinese culture too.

To get a better idea of how Middlebury Interactive Languages operates, you can watch a brief video here.  You can also check out the FAQ for system requirements.

There are two options for purchasing courses:

  1. Without teacher – $119 per semester per child
  2. If you want a teacher, it is an additional $175, or $294 in total

Since we did not have any teacher support I can not speak to that; what we did use was phenomenal though. 🙂
All in all I can say this was a wonderful program. There was such a fabulous variety used in teaching the material that this was a course that never had a dull moment. It also, as I said earlier, taught the WHOLE language. Full immersion, online anyway. As a one who is very involved with international travel, languages and culture, this really is by far the best way for anyone to learn a new language in a way that is fun and functional. I cannot say enough how much  I love the combination provided here. From cultural lessons, to authentic historical stories all fitting right into the lesson being taught, it is so much more than just words  Full of audio, video and speech exercises (some worksheets and coloring pages too) its a multi-sensory approach that I personally believe has something for everyone. 🙂

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