I started learning French from Madame Catherine Jolivet when I was five years old. I looked forward to attending the classes every week because I had so much fun. We did music, dancing, skits, games, cooking, arts and crafts and lots of other wonderful activities while learning French.
I went on to take French in middle, high school and college and every teacher I had was impressed with my accent and language skills. I lived in France two years after graduating college. Living in France certainly did help my fluency. When French people asked me why I spoke so well and had such a great accent, I always attributed it to the early start I had with Madame Jolivet. Her classes also gave me a love of the French culture. Madame Jolivet has truly changed my life as I would never have had the opportunities abroad without her planting the seeds when I was young.
Now that I have a baby of my own, I definitely want to raise her bilingually and have read much research about its benefits. I'm sure that by starting in infancy she won't have an accent at all! She will be participating in the Baby Circle at French for Fun and I plan to continue with the Mom n Tots class as well as pre-school and school-age offerings. I highly recommend Madame Jolivet and the French for Fun program for any parent with a desire to have their children learn a foreign language. French is a gift you can give your child that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for the incredible foundation you provided to Josephine and James. I can't tell you how thrilled Mark and I are to receive the feedback we do from their teachers at EB.
Two years ago, when Josephine started preschool there, her teacher commented that Josephine's comprehension of French was impressive. Last year, when she was in Kindergarten, her teacher was shocked to learn that neither Mark nor I spoke French, because Josephine's comprehension was so good. The teacher had placed Josephine in the French-speaking group, where she remained all year. By the end of Kindergarten, she was impressing her teacher with her precise pronunciation and increased voluntary use of French language. This year, in first grade, her teacher recently told me that Josephine's accent is impeccable-she reads and talks incredibly well.
As for James, his teacher was blown away with his comprehension from Day 1. After a few days of school, she told us that she was communicating with him only in French, while she was of having to switch between French and English with the other children. James quickly became a little star (in our eyes!), as he was the only one in the class (of 18 students) who could understand the teacher's daily requests, such as "who can find the 15th on the calendar for me?" (in French, of course).
We are so proud of their accomplishments and how they have easily transitioned into the program at EB. This was our vision from the beginning, when I had my first phone conversation with you when Josephine was about 15 months old (she just turned six last month). We are very pleased with the language and cultural background they received at French For Fun, and I just wanted to thank you for that. Merci!
I spent years living several months per year in the South of France and it has been a struggle for me to learn French as an adult. Most of my foreign friends are able to speak 5, 6, 7 languages; their business and social worlds are completely opened globally because of this. I knew that no matter how cool I thought it was, it was impossible for me due to language barriers. I believe the early exposure to French will make it easier for my daughter to become a global citizen, which will be essential for her generation.
As a writer and musician, I have been obsessed with words, language and communication for my entire life, and I have always believed that being multilingual is one of the most valuable assets a human being can have. Learning another language doesn't just enable you to communicate with people in other countries; it opens your mind to other ways of perceiving and thinking. Introducing multiple languages while the brain's language center is at its most dynamic and flexible is a permanent investment in a child's intellectual growth and human potential. French For Fun is a wonderful, immersive language learning environment that teaches real, colloquial, age-appropriate language skills. After just a few weeks, my 13 months old is already saying identifiable French words, in context, and it is thrilling to see the comprehension and communication ability develop. Taking this class is one of the best decisions I have made, and I wish I had known about French For Fun when I was investigating preschool options for my older child.
Halloween 2009 at French For Fun!
Let me add a letter of support and gratitude for your wonderful program. I cannot say enough about what it has done for my son in terms of language confidence, cultural currency, and preparation for a rigorous academic program. The comprehensive benefits of early childhood language exposure cannot be underestimated, and we found the after school language programs in our public school to be sorely lacking in virtually every respect in comparison to the superior experience at French For Fun. I only regret that we didn’t begin with you in the earliest years when language learning is so effortless! I still find it incomprehensible that our schools fail to introduce second language learning until middle school. Familiarity with French has allowed my son to begin easily with Spanish and Italian, and now, he wants to learn Japanese as well!
Lastly, I should mention that Alex always found his classes enjoyable and…FUN! All his instructors have made language learning accessible and enjoyable as well as productive. If only all pre-schoolers and school-age children had access to a program such as yours, we might begin to see an entire generation of multi-lingual, culturally literate and internationally oriented citizens.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE IMMERSION PROGRAMS VS.
I am the mother of two boys, ages 8 and 11. Having spent eighteen years of my life as a foreign language teacher, I was determined that my children grow up speaking a second language. I was fortunate to have met Catherine Jolivet-Johnson while I was still a young, unmarried, Spanish, and French teacher. I made a trip to her French for Fun Center in order to buy materials. I came away with wonderful books but even more than that, I made a promise to myself that if I ever had children, they would be her students.
Years later, I was indeed married with two small children. I searched the entire Bay Area looking for pre-school foreign language programs. I found Mandarin Chinese Saturday classes, some distant Italian classes, Madame’s immersion classes and a Spanish Saturday program. We wanted FFF but I was teaching full-time and couldn’t manage to get him there. So we decided on the Saturday Spanish. It was deplorable. The inexperienced native speaker did not have a clue how to teach pre-schoolers. Pre-schoolers don’t need worksheet after worksheet. We decided to drop that class.
We tried other programs. We drove to Walnut Creek every Saturday morning to meet with a private French speaker. It was abysmal. Her own young son didn’t speak French and the tutor conducted the class mainly in English. We moved on.
Fortunately for me, Ms. Jolivet-Johnson started a Saturday class. At age five, Benjamin was finally able to begin French. What a huge difference. Catherine Jolivet-Johnson is one of the few teachers in the whole nation who truly knows how to teach a foreign language to young children. I tried teaching young children myself once and realized it was a world away from teaching middle school and high school. Madame Jolivet-Johnson completely devotes herself to the teaching of babies and beyond. Her knowledge of foreign language teaching as well as Montessori instruction makes her classes ideally suited to the young student.
It was clear that I needed to do better with my youngest. I finally managed to get my daycare provider to drive my three-year-old to Lafayette in the morning. She eventually decided not to make the drive. I ended up changing jobs and working three days a week in order to put him in a two-morning program. It was fantastic. I even went so far as to quit that job in order to put him in the morning kindergarten, five-day program the following year. It was beyond my expectations.
Meanwhile, my six-year-old began a two-day afternoon program and continued even during the summer months.
The difference is notable. The youngest is completely at ease with the French language. He comprehends and speaks effortlessly. He is not afraid to make mistakes and has a native accent. The oldest understands an enormous amount of French but is very hesitant to speak. He has a self-consciousness that the younger son does not have. He also, like me, has an American accent.
Therein lies the difference. You can devote your life to languages even earning advanced degrees in French or Spanish. You still have no chance of speaking at a native speaker level unless you begin young in an immersion program. Time is of the essence with foreign languages. The brain is wired and ready from ages zero to six to absorb languages like a sponge.
Admittedly we had other interests competing for our children’s time. We made French the priority. The other activities can wait. We have not regretted that decision.
Anyone having the time and means to put their child in an immersion program at a young age should definitely take advantage of that critical time period. To put a young child in a one or two day program is all well and good, but is essentially throwing away the most fertile period in a child’s life. I highly recommend exposing a young child to as much foreign language as possible. Immersion programs are the way to go.
I presently work as a bilingual reading teacher at Meadow Homes Elementary. Our school presently offers English-only classes, bilingual classes and immersion classes. The progress of the students in immersion and bilingual classes is incredible. Those parents choosing English-only are missing a great opportunity.
Good immersion programs are few and far between. I feel very fortunate to have found such a fantastic one so close to home.
Many children grow up at French for Fun -- starting young,
and staying with us through their school years.
Shortly after the birth of my first daughter, I began as many parents do to think about classes/schools -Mommy & Me, dance, art, enrichment programs, pre-schools, etc. At the top of my wish list was to have her learn a second language. I had heard how easy it was for children to learn multiple languages, but could not find a program for young children. One day my luck changed when I dropped into French For Fun. Not knowing exactly what I would find, I was thrilled when Madame Jolivet-Johnson, the director and owner of French For Fun, told me about her class for toddlers. We started attending the "Moms & Tots" classes the next day. It quickly became the highlight of our week. The classes are made up of singing and dancing, playing, craft projects, and games. My daughter loved it, and so did I. Before I knew it the students had learned colors, could count, and could name most animals in French.
This is our second year in the program. My daughter is 2 1/2 and attends the Créche program three days a week. The school is fun and energetic, and every morning she asks if it is a French Day. I feel that due to the style of teaching, her level of comprehension and love for language continues to grow. She truly does use both French and English when talking. To her there are two ways to say things: a dog is a "dog" and a "chien". They're interchangeable and the thought process is effortless.
I feel this is the best educational gift I could give her. I look forward to Chloe being able to grow with the program throughout her childhood and adolescence. It's been a wonderful experience for her and our family. I'm also anxious to start attending the "Moms & Tots" program with my newborn.
Steve and Wendy
Montana has simply thrived under your direction and this program. Her confidence level continues to rise as she learns more and more about the French language she has grown to love. Through the French for Fun program, our daughter has been exposed to so many ideas, foods, hobbies, festivities, cultures, etc. that she would not otherwise have learned about until much later, if ever. We believe Montana will now have additional opportunities in life because of her experience with French for Fun.
During the first years, it was challenging to see the improvements in her speech and writing. During this last year, Montana not only understands French, but can speak and write it as well. She not only respects you as an instructor, but truly loves you as well.
I'm always amazed to hear about the differences in the French & Italian Alps from my first grader! There are many more examples, too many to name.
The most wonderful thing is that in spite of all the "learning", Montana sees going to French as another part of her day (and wouldn't miss it for the world).
Christine and Michael
We want to let you know how much we appreciate what you've done for Laura over the last two years. It's amazing that our daughter is so close to being bilingual, it's sometimes difficult for us to really imagine. I know we still look around amazed when we hear her speaking French.
Then there is also the cultural literacy that you teach as well. Your educational philosophy is truly one of total immersion and the results speak for themselves.
We look forward to an equally enriching experience for Sydney and Megan in the coming years. What a wonderful environment you've created at French For Fun. Thank You!