Learning a foreign language is highly important to most people because it enables one to prepare for college, work, better prospects, as well as to learn a new culture. However, most French speakers do not know how to speak English despite the fact that the English language is a lot more like French.
In fact, a study conducted by the language school ABA English found that only 4% of French speakers can speak fluent English. In addition, foreign language uptake among French speakers is considered to be very low more so because they also want to protect their French language. What’s more, English is taught quite differently in French speaking schools, and that’s why there is a gap in abilities.
With that said, if you intend to teach English to French students, it is important to be aware of some struggles of French students in learning English.
In this article, you are going to gain insights on the problems encountered when teaching English to French students, as well as the steps you need to take to enhance effective learning.
Reasons Why French Speakers Have Trouble Learning English
Are you a French speaker who teaches English as a foreign language in the United Kingdom, or a British Council language assistant? Well, if your answer is yes, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the struggles French students face as they try to learn English or take a language course. They include:
French students tend to have trouble with the English grammar the same way English speakers or native English speakers have trouble with French grammar. In fact, most French students or French speakers do not like speaking English more so because they fear to make mistakes, or having a perception that they are not very good at it. So, most of them avoid speaking English for fear of been laughed at. This is likely to be very common among teenagers or high school students due to insecurity issues, and their desire to be perfect.
2. Difficulties with Irregular verbs
Many French speakers, particularly French students also have problems with irregular verbs. For instance, they tend to have difficulties with verbs such as hit, or drink because they do not follow a typical pattern. In other words, unlike the regular verbs, which end with ing, ed, s, the irregular verbs are “drink, which becomes drank or drunk and not drinked.
So, as a language assistant or teaching assistant, it is important to encourage your French students to exercise patience with themselves.
3. Difficulty with pronunciation
Learning English pronunciation almost seems impossible for some French students, and as an English language teacher, it can be quite difficult to understand what your students are saying. For instance, most French speakers have often confessed that it is hard to differentiate between a short and long vowel. Such words may include cape and cap, fight and fit, beat and bet.
4. False friends
French students tend to learn English the hard way because of what we call English French false friends. These are words that appear similar in French and English, but their meanings are completely different. Such words include “Introduire” and “Introduce“, “to chat” and “chatte” or to “A little bit” and “Une petite bite“. These words are very embarrassing, and a French speaker may, for instance, confuse “introduce” with ”introduire”, which in French means to “insert” or “penetrate”.
There are certainly many other false friends, and as a teacher of English as a foreign language, it is important that you pay attention to them.
Steps on How to Teach English To Native French Speakers in a Language
There are certainly many methods that you can adopt in English language teaching. However, I’m going to share with you tips that you can use to help your French students learn English effectively. What’s more, these are tips that you can use when teaching one-on-one, or when offering private English lessons. The tips are also very useful to teachers who offer full immersion English lessons to French students.
1. Assess the English level of your French student
If you’re looking to be a teacher that your French students will remember for life, it is important that you put into consideration the English level of your students. There are usually 4 main language skills that students need to develop, which include listening, speaking, reading and writing. Therefore, in order to find out the skills they already have, you may want to ask them simple questions on the first day.
For instance, you can have basic conversations by asking them to tell you where they come from, about their family, their trip, etcetera. You can also ask them to read or write their likes, dislikes, their favourite food, just to gauge how easily or fluently they interact.
2. Use gestures, visual aids and context when teaching
To help them learn vocabulary, pronunciations, Help them learn day to day vocabulary, pronunciation, as well as spelling and meaning of words, you can use sticky notes. For instance, you can put sticky notes on plate, cupboards, toilet, just to help them learn more efficiently. It also helps to make a situation real. You can also mimic actions for easier communication.
3. Speak with ease
When teaching English as a foreign language, it is important that you speak slowly and clearly so that they can follow along. You may also want to draw, write down or spell for them difficult words, which helps to minimize the language barrier.
4. Repeat vocabulary and make use of synonyms
To make learning English easier for your French speakers, it is important that you teach using repetitive vocabulary. As the students become comfortable, you can expand your vocabulary, as well as synonyms. However, you may want to stimulate their minds or invade their comfort zone every once in a while, which helps to make the class interesting.
5. Encourage them to listen
Having some background music or noise, for instance, helps your French students to improve their listening skills. So, you may want to put the radio or television on as you teach English. This also helps them to listen to the English that is been spoken in the background. What’s more, if you want to engage them in a full immersion English lesson, you can put subtitles in English, which also helps them to link what they are seeing to a word or spelling.
6. Lesson planning
When planning your lessons for the day, it is important that you plan them in line with the activity of the day. This is important because it helps them to practice what they learn in real life. What’s more, to keep learning fun, easy to understand, and stimulating, it is important that you keep your lessons and activities short.
7. Plan for excursions
It is important that you plan excursions and visits, which are relevant to your student’s interests. Excursions and visits are good because they expose your French students to real life experiences, which help to enhance their talking and listening skills. So, it is important that you plan for such activities during your free time.
Before starting a new lesson, it is always important to ask your French students to describe or share what they did the previous day. Depending on the level of English for each of your student, asking a student to summarize the previous day’s lesson helps you to gauge his or her understanding.
Qualifications for Teaching English French Students in United Kingdom
We are an international language homestays school based out of Brighton UK and we’re always looking for teaching assistants with higher education or a bachelor degree. If you are interested please contact our head office today.
In order to teach English to high school French students at English language homestays, you have to be from an English speaking country or a native speaker. You can click here to take our language level tests, which only take 25 minutes. Once you have completed the tests, you will receive your results instantly. Good luck!
You may also be required to take an English skills test with the British Council, which is the international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
English Courses for French Students at English Language Homestays, UK
At English Language Homestays, we have customisable international language homestays and home language international full immersion English courses that help to ensure our language homestay students have the best experience. So, if you are an international bachelor degree student from a French speaking country, you can enroll for a full immersion English language course, or as a private English student.
Add Your Memories
If you have been a student, teacher, organiser or member of staff, we would love to hear about your memories and experiences. What’s more, if you would like to send your experiences to the official or ELH agent please keep in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Teaching English to French students can be an exciting and unforgettable experience because of the dynamics involved. To enhance learning, it is important that you make your learning more task-based, which helps to ensure that your students are able to communicate, and engage in the practical use of English as a foreign language.