What is the most effective way of helping children learn to use French phrases and grammar without thinking?
Although it may not seem always to be so, most humans forget very little. In other words we don’t lose memories; we lose the habit of recalling that memory.
Fortunately this can be overcome, for when we have a meaningful link for a memory, rather than just an isolated memory, the knowledge in that memory can stay with us for years.
In these ways French phrases and grammar become memorable and instantly available – and if those memories are regularly accessed they become habitual.
For example, the use of “pas de” in French can seem like just another random phrase to remember. But there is a simple way of helping children to understand and use the phrase.
What we can do is tell children that when a French person ‘has’ or ‘owns’ something, that person cares about its gender because they are very interested in the things that are theirs.
However, for things that don’t belong to them, they see no point in indicating the gender. That is why, instead of using ‘un’, ‘une’ or ‘des’ in negative sentences, they just use ‘de’.
So they say, “Il y a un chien” (there is a dog), but “Il y n’a pas de chien” (literally, there isn’t any dog).
Here’s another little memory trick that fascinates children – the fact that son = his or her. Although objects in French have gender,men and women are equal and, thanks to this, there is no difference between ‘his’ and ‘her’ in French.
Unforgettable French is full of tried-and-tested French memory activities based on sound and idea associations that help engage the memory and make phrases and grammatical points habitual.