I received this product free for review. All opinions remain my own!
As you might know, we are already a bilingual family. Living in Montréal, my husband speaks to Cub in French, as does our extended family and his gardienne (home day care Mama). Although I speak French and am a French-as-a-Second-Language teacher in another life, my mother tongue is English and I generally speak to Cub in English.
Even though I speak to him in English and I’m my son’s primary caregiver, his first words are all in French, so I’m not too worried about him mastering it. The reason I wanted to try this CD was because I’ve had many readers ask me about teaching their children French, and because my husband claims to know no French children’s songs.
I put the CD on for the first time in the car, and I liked it immediately: it’s important for children’s music to be pleasant to the ear for us parents, and I assure you the music on this CD is not irritating! Yes, the songs get stuck in your head, but guess what? If they’re stuck in your head, you’re learning French! (If you’ve got the Super Why theme stuck in your head, you’re not learning anything except that you hate Super Why…)
So, while the CD is intended to teach children French, it in no way has the feel of an educational/language-learning CD. It is, quite simply, a CD of songs in French for children. It would pass easily in a classroom full of native French speaking children, which is important. Authenticity is a critical part of language learning. (I have my B.Ed. in second-language teaching, you know!)
My favourite song on the CD is “Le Vieux MacDonald,” a French verison of “Old MacDonald.” Despite only knowing the song in English (or so I thought), Cub was immediately singing along with the animal noises and using his two favourite words (chat and chien, cat and dog). Turns out, one of his buddies at day care had been singing the French version, so it wasn’t Cub’s first time hearing the song!
My husband loves the CD too, and yesterday I caught him singing “Ma journée” (My Day), a song about your daily routine.
The earlier kids get started learning French, the easier it will be for them. I took my first French classes in Grade 8, but I never forgot the few French songs and lessons I had in preschool. I recommend this CD wholeheartedly to introduce your kids to French and brush up on your own. The CD comes with translations of all the song lyrics, too!
What kind of French is it?
Pronunciation-wise, I’d characterize the songs as being a very standard, “international” type French. The vocabulary is, however, very French from France (as opposed to Québécois.) It really doesn’t matter, just something to be aware of! For example, in my husband’s favourite, “Ma journée,” the day’s meals are sung as “Petit déjeuner, Déjeuner and Dîner,” whereas in Québec we would say “Déjeuner, Dîner and Souper.” For snacktime, we say “collation,” but in the song they say the more French-from-France word: “goûter.”