All posts by Joanna Sorensen

I am very fortunate to be able to work from home enjoying our 3 children (now 15, 11 and 6), teaching piano, volunteering, handling the family finances and generally managing the home. I hold a BSc. in biology and have had fun cultivating our children's love of science and nature.

Faire Leurs Devoirs Ensemble

img_0732This might not go over that well with everyone. We’ve worked hard as parents to set up the after school routine of having them empty their backpacks, get their homework done and be ready for the next day but as a French Immersion Mom or Dad that is eager to learn the language themselves, what better opportunity than during homework time with your child.

Reading with your child, taking turns, (questionable accent and all) is a great way to broaden your vocabulary and practice pronunciation. You are also teaching your kids that it’s Ok to take risks and laugh at yourself in life (and language).

You can keep a pad of paper and pen handy to jot down the words you or your child don’t understand and then have fun racing through the dictionary later to find their meaning. Google translate is another fun way to check a word and have it pronounced for you.

But be careful not to correct their mistakes or take offense when they point out yours! Mistakes are an opportunity for their teacher to correct and work with your child.

So make homework time something you can both look forward to by setting aside time everyday, sitting together in a comfortable spot and giving them your full attention. It’s a great way to show them that learning is an important and fun lifelong adventure.


Back to School, C’est Amusant!

img_5493Now, the kids are all settled back into school expanding their knowledge of French, so why shouldn’t you? Yes, I know we’ve all teased our kids at one point about joining them in their classrooms to find out what they are learning, but I’m talking about French class for adults.

The year that our daughter started French immersion kindergarten and began bringing home books that I assumed would be super easy for me was the year that I looked into community school. Those kindergarten level books were a shock. They were filled with words that I had no clue about. Thank goodness for pictures.

So when the community flyer came around and I saw French was on the list, for $15 I began my French language learning journey. The teacher was a lovely lady in her early 60’s, a retired French immersion teacher of Acadian decent. I felt like I had found my own secret French tutor as only about 8 people signed up.

Growing up with only the core French curriculum, I was loving being spoken to in French even though most of the time I was simply enjoying the sound of the language, not really knowing what she was saying. She was so knowledgeable and patient and the more I figured out, beginning with how to pronounce the alphabet correctly, the more I couldn’t wait to learn. So here are 4 reasons why you should think about going back to school:

  1. An opportunity to speak French with others. Expect to laugh a lot. At others and at yourself with no risk of public shaming or embarrassing social media exposure. As much as you dream of your children conversing in French with you while picking wild flowers in a field at sunrise, you may find your opportunities to try out the words you’ve learned or grammar you are dying to practice will be few and far between.
  2. It’s an evening out for You, not your kids. Constantly shuttling the kids around to their activities and their friends houses doesn’t leave a lot of time for your own interests. But over the years I’ve found that showing the family that Mom or Dad as a human being, not android chauffeur, deserves to have an evening or two for themselves.
  3. You will make new friends. How cool is it when your child runs into friends they met from summer camp or swimming lessons and they have this special bond away from the daily school grind. This is your time for fun new friendships, inside jokes and maybe even a secret handshake when you meet at the grocery store or soccer field.
  4. It’s exercise for your brain. The benefits to your brain health are astounding. And less painful and expensive than botox, facelifts or cryogenics, learning a second language helps to keep your brain young and looking its best.



J’adore Duolingo

Caught in a slow grocery check out?  Waiting for gymnastics or hockey to finish?  Duolingo is so easy to do anytime and anywhere.  I just turn off the microphone option and slip an ear bud in and away I go.  Instead of rolling through Facebook or feeling inadequate and lazy on Pinterest, with Duolingo you are learning a language on the go and for free.  Did I mention it’s free?

If you are a person that loves a pat on the back for a job well done or encouragement for your next task then you will love Duolingo as much as I do.  Learning a new language is such a daunting challenge but Duolingo lays it out in categories and subjects as part of a “language tree” and makes it look totally doable.  

You aren’t able to have conversations with the app but it’s amazing the vocabulary that you learn and this is great for building confidence to start those conversations when the opportunity presents itself.

When I began my journey as a French immersion mom two years ago I started with Duolingo and am still practicing and having fun with it today.  Each time I finish a practice session and I hear that celebratory horn blow I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Apprendre and Prendre

The Bescherelle tells me they are the same thing.  I thought apprendre would be a simple and suitable first word to start with on my blogging about learning french journey.  Well, quelle surprise, there is more to it than simply to learn…

So I guess while I am continuing to apprendre (to learn, to teach, to hear of) we are also looking to prendre (to take, to seize, to catch and to capture).  And apparently they also share a close cousin rendre, who could mean to give back, to pay back, to yield, to vomit, or to surrender.  Could this be the Bescherelle’s way of telling me I should surrender as learning a language is not as simple as turning the pages of a book of verbs?  Or will continuing to take the time to learn this beautiful language give back and yield in fun and façons fantastiques…