Making connections with your students’ families, both at the beginning of and throughout the entire school year, will tie them to your program and encourage support for their children who are learning another language.
Strategies that can be used with documents in the “Parents” section:
- Use the “Parent Booklet” at the beginning of the year to encourage parents to support their children as they study French. Either distribute the booklet in its entirety or select materials to hand out at various times throughout the year.
Parent Booklet–Teacher’s Guide
- Distribute the introduction letter, “Bonjour letter” with parent response form, the first day of class, to let parents know what you are going to accomplish during the year and to seek parental involvement.
- Share with parents your academic background and personal experiences with French culture and travel by means of a “Teacher Biography.”
- Invite parents to contribute their time, experience, or expertise to facilitate class and club activities. (Sample questions can be found in the “Bonjour Letter”)
- Assign students to interview their parents or other family members about their French-related experiences.
Interview of Parent or Family Member By Student
- Invite parents to an evening meeting in which you show them the videos included in “The World Speaks French – Video Stories” in order to validate the importance of speaking French.
View the Videos by clicking here
Introduction: The World Speaks French Video Stories (describes the video)
- Communicate periodically with parents via a monthly or quarterly letter or newsletter.
Sample Monthly Newsletter for Parents & Students
- Create a brochure or flyer about your French program incorporating quotes from present and former students about their French experiences and listing what former students are doing with their French studies.
Click here to see the materials on soliciting and distributing testimonials: Testimonials Page
- Encourage student participation in class-related activities, such as those below, by asking students to show informational letters to their parents, to have parents read and then sign those letters, and finally to have the students return each informational activity letter to you. In this way, you are sure of publicizing your activities and inviting parents to get their children involved in participating in these activities.
- National French Contest Letter–National French Contest Invitation
- La Société Honoraire de Français Application for National French Honorary Society
- La Grande Dictée
- National French Week
- French Club (N.B. Point out that involvement in school activities is important to election in the National Honor Society and will enhance a student’s college application. This will encourage more of your students to join French Club!)
- French Exchange
- Immersion Days and Weekends
- French film night
- International dinners
- Field trips (i.e. museums, concerts, restaurants, plays, etc.)
- Get parents involved in using French with their children by either having them compliment their student at home in French. A list of “15 Compliments” in French with a translation in English and help with pronunciation is included here. 15 French Compliments
- Also, see how many English words which come directly from French they can identify. Flyer: French Words In English
- Hand out informational documents to students to give to their parents, or distribute directly to parents at Open House:
- Map or list of French-speaking countries in the world Map of the French-Speaking World
- French Embassy Webpage: Status of French in the World
- Brochure: “French: A Language of Choice” Sample Brochure–French, A Language of Choice
- Flyers: “With French YOU can” Flyer: With French YOU Can... or “10 Reasons to Study French” Presentation–Ten Reasons To Study French
- List of Francophone celebrities
- Comparison of the ease of learning French with other world languages The Ease And Challenges For An English Speaker Learning French (Bullock)
- “40 Surprising Facts about French” 40 Surprising Facts About French (Nadeau & Barlow)
- Article on French companies and products found in the US French Companies & Products In the US (you can fill this out with examples from your own region, if you wish)
Below are ideas for additional activities to gain support from parents:
Orientation for Incoming Students
- Present a mini-lesson to give students an idea of what to expect on the first day of class.
- Show the videos in “The World Speaks French – Video Stories” to convey to them the importance of studying French.
- Provide brochures, like “French: A Language of Choice,” or flyers, “With French YOU can, or “10 Reasons to Study French.” The brochure and flyers mentioned are provided in this kit. There are additional brochures available from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF): http://www.frenchteachers.org/ .
- Present a video to demonstrate what current students are doing in French class.
- Suggest websites, movies, or other resources that students can use to become familiar with French before the school year begins. (Consult: “Web Resources for Students,” “Family French films,” and “Local Resources” in the “Parents” section.)
- Distribute letters in Spanish to Spanish-speaking parents on the importance of having their children become trilingual. A letter in Spanish and in English written by a native Spanish speaker is included in the kit to indicate the advantages of learning French. A list of 10 reasons to study French (“With French YOU can”) is provided in Spanish.
- Present a mini-lesson giving parents an opportunity to experience learning French.
- Show the video: “The World Speaks French – Video Stories” or selected video clips.
- Provide a newsletter, calendar of activities, or other welcoming handout for parents to take home.
- Provide brochures on why the study of French is valuable. Several of these are located in this section: “With French, YOU can,” and “10 Reasons to Study French.” You can also procure similar brochures from the AATF national organization.
- Bring French pastries, bonbons, pencils or other treats for students and families.
- Bring various realia, books, flags, etc., to decorate your conference space if you cannot meet with parents in your classroom.
- Show the video: “The World Speaks French – Video Stories.”
- Prepare an “assignment” for parents. For example: Ask them to post a copy of an irregular verb conjugation somewhere unexpected in their home for the student to see.
- Encourage parents to become involved in an upcoming class project or activity. Have a sign-up sheet available. (It helps to be specific in what you need.)
- Ask for parent e-mail addresses and keep them up-to-date with a mailing or newsletter
- If parents have ties to the Francophone community, find out if they would be willing to share their experiences with the class. (See “Bonjour Letter” response sheet.)
- Provide brochures on why the study of French is valuable. Several of these are located in the “Parents” section, for example “With French, YOU can,” and “10 Reasons to Study French.” You can also procure similar brochures from the AATF national organization: http://www.frenchteachers.org/.
End of year
- Distribute an “End-of-Year Letter” to summarize your students’ accomplishments and activities and to suggest French-related summer activities.
- Distribute a “Year-End Parent Survey” from which you will get feedback.
- Use your school’s online communications system to let all parents know what is taking place in class or what special activities are planned for the near future.
- Invite parents to attend special classes, club activities, the French Honor Society induction ceremony, etc., by creating your own special invitations in both French and English. Conduct the ceremony in both languages also.
- Maintain a class web page detailing assignments and providing parents and absent students with a means of staying abreast of what happens in French class.
- Provide translations of any documents sent home for those parents unable to communicate well in English. (See example of Spanish letter to Spanish-language parents in the kit.)
- Create greeting cards for students to take home (Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, etc.).
- Host a French-themed pot-luck dinner and invite students’ families.
These strategies, brochures, documents, templates, and additional ideas are designed to help you make the important connection to parents. The support you garner from parents throughout the year is critical in transforming your allies into advocates if your French program is threatened with reduction or curtailment.