Help required for reading and writing French

OK I am a slightly worried nana. Grandson has been here in school for 4 years. First 2 he was suffering from glue ear and eventually after grommets he could hear properly. He is able to speak in French to people he likes. He is having difficulties in comprehending the written word and in dictae therefore. He is excellent at maths, art and sports.

We need to start him understanding words properly (conjugation of verbs is a nightmare). He is in a double age streamed classroom and the teacher just hands out worksheets most of the time with parents expected to pick up the pieces at the end of the day. He has had extra help with work at school but now there are no funds and quite frankly the psycholog seems determined to make more problems for him than solve them. (He does not like the psycholog and will not speak to him).

Are there any books or games out there for say 5 year olds learning French that I could buy, I have trawled through Amazon and other sites and cannot find anything suitable. Help would be appreciated please. We are not teaching him English at the moment as it may confuse him although part of me says that he really should learn to read and write in one language so that he gains confidence.

We live in Central Brittany and there are not many help associations here for children. I believe he has some of the characteristics of dyslexia (he cannot see words in his brain he tells me and he does not hold letters that well either).

I want to help him the teacher would like him tested but the psycholog will not test him and in fact we are thinking of removing him from CMPP altogether as he has been going for 6 months with no visible signs of progress it seems.

Thank you.

Worried nana.

Well things have taken a turn for the better. Grandson and mother attended a meeting with the very helpful teacher who read grandson the riot act in the nicest possible way and his attitude and conversational French is improving no end. I am using the acapela for pronounciation and learning how to conjugate er verbs in the present tense as I write. However he is doing more and more on his own thank goodness. Its amazing what a good teacher can do to encourage a lad. Long may it continue.

Oh and thank you too how long I have struggled with pronunciation the acapela is fantastic. I also think that perhaps the Alphas could be of use to me as an aged person.

Thank you I will look at this again have just had a quick glance and feel I am up to helping him with his mum's help. I was surprised to see that 40% of children in France see an autophonist.

Laughing ... same problem here! Mine's always telling me off for pronouncing "ou" and "u" the same, eg when I say "tu vas bien?" it sounds like "tout va bien?" Also the "G" and "J" sounds are tough and I don't have any excuse as my surname has 2 gs so I should be used to it by now! And yes, he gets his dictee wrong because of me too!!

I know what you mean Katherine about the different alphabets we get ourselves in knots too - english e or french i?? the sound thing looks good too and helpful for dictée as I don't always pronounce well enough for him and he gets it wrong as a result of me.. he dispairs of my pronounciation of "ou" de loup!!

I don't have any specific advice but wanted to reply to give a bit of moral support. From what you say, your grandson sounds like just about every boy who ever went to primary school: loves sport, art and recre, struggles with everything else! You've got the extra bonus of him being good at maths, but that makes sense as it doesn't rely on language skills.

Actually, I think he is doing briliantly: he has only been here 4 years. He's doing it all in another language for goodness sake, how clever is that? I always remind my son of this fact whenever he struggles at school. The recommendation about les Alphas sounds ideal. It is not the system my son's school uses but sounds just the ticket and good fun. I wish we'd had it. With boys you can only keep them motivated if it's fun.

I would keep English reading out of the way for now though, as it will just confuse him. I taught my son to read (in English) while he was at Maternelle here but stopped everything when he started CP and soon realised from the homework that learning to read the two languages is very different. In fact I have to be careful to use the French alphabet if spelling out French words for homework, as opposed to the English alphabet for thank you letters, etc., otherwise we get in a real pickle!

I feel sure it will work out -- these things tend to -- but it feels pretty rotten going through it. The main thing is that you are so motivated to support him. That's half the battle. Bon courage!

PS You might find this link useful for homework (particularly dictee) where it is not always easy to distinguish between the pronunciation of two similar words (we strugged with ambre and ombre but we are in the deep south!!). Just select a French voice, type in the word, then click on "say it" (make sure the volume's up!)

Hi there, my son learnt to read using a phonetical system, which as he has a good ear (he too had glue ear and grommits) he found great. His teacher used a fantastic system called "les alphas" - every letter has a name (c is for cornichon, p peroquet etc) and tell a story especially for the vowels ie M. O drank water from the R robinet with some soap and now has bubbles coming out his mouth and makes the oooooo sound - (I'm working from memory and what my son told me lol). In short it is fun, the children remember the stories and do put sounds together and work out really quickly how to "cup up" words - they know very quickly things like the difference between the "on" de "pont" and the "an" de "banc".

This is used by mainstream french education - my son is in the village school but it is also recommended for children in difficulty. They have a website - where you can go and as a parent buy stuff to help them. For example the letters so that they can make up words without having to write them.

From a personal point of view, I wouldn't rush out to teach him to read in english if he is already started learing french. It may just lead to confusion. I read up about it for my son and most of the information I found suggested leaving 2 years between languages -- the time it takes to get one established. In fact I didn't wait that long, but mostly because the want came from my son to read in both languages. But english has been a much more organic process that I have just guided more than anything and I carried on a bit with phonics - "ee" in bee or "ea" in leaf for example.

Sorry it's a bit rambling but I love do recommend the alphas for bilingual children and it is really good fun. Hope you get sorted. Katie