The Silent Way
You can google this method to learn the method we are using for language learning, but this is a photo of the color chart we use during class that teaches the silent way of language learning. Our teacher, Juliet, doesn't talk unless necessary. She instead uses her mouth to show how to make the sound without making a sound herself. While listening to us, she points to the sound we should be making. If we are right, she moves on. If we are wrong, she tells us what sound she hears and patiently shows us the embouchure to make to correct ourselves. One thing about this system is that it will mean our lessons are participatory. So I look forward to the fun activities we do as a class to learn together.
The top colors on the chart are vowels and the colors below the line are our consonant sounds in the French language. As you can see, there's a lot of vowel sounds! And many of these sounds are still confusing to me. We have moved fast, covering nearly the whole chart our first 2 days of class. Now we are putting sounds into making words and have begun with numbers. Some numbers have 8 or more sounds we have to make!
Something funny about numbers in French, when you get to the number 70, you have to say "sixty ten." When you get to 80, you're saying "four-twenty." So it is a confusing counting system. We played a game our 3rd day of class with saying aloud our French phone numbers. This was quite a challenge to do, but certainly helped to enforce this counting system for us.
Our class of beginners has 6 of us together. Two are single, and we are one of two couples. The other couple has 3 children, one of which is Abby's age! They are already playing together a lot in their nursery time during each day.
Another game we played was learning colors. We were introduced to 5 colors--yellow, black, red, blue, and green in blocks called reglettes. We would choose (prendu) the correct color from our teacher's tray. We would then take turns giving a block to each student, and saying the full sentence "choose a (color) block." When everyone had a turn, we would tell our teacher what we had. "I have a red block, a yellow, and a blue." When everyone finished this sequence, we then would say what each class member had. "He has/she has..." and while doing this at times going back to the color chart to sound out the words we were using correctly. I see this color chart being very important in our phonetic exercises.
One great thing about being here at this school is the attention to speaking phonetically correct. We certainly could have taken French from a tutor in America. But what if French was their second language? Then the mistakes they may make are taught to us and we would have extra work to overcome that mis-learned application. Having a French teacher correct us now and work with us to enforce proper pronunciation is important so we can speak French as missionaries. I've heard several missionary friends who learned French in a country in Africa say that they had to relearn their mistakes. So to all that have made it possible for Denise and I to be here to study, thank you! It's going to be hard work, but it's going to help us to share the gospel.