At the ACTFL convention in Boston this past November, I bought about 20 books from TPRS Books and Fluency Matters. One of the books was a simple reader intended for novice speakers of French called Brandon Brown Veut un Chien (Fluency Matters has this book in French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Chinese and I think Russian as well) by Carol Gaab. On a lark, my nine-year-old son and I started reading it together. Before opening this book, the only French my son knew were numbers up to ten thanks to my continual playing of the Hamilton soundtrack and how to say “Bonjour” from the many times his sister forced him watch Beauty and the Beast. But other than that, he knew no French.
We’ve been reading the book a little bit each night and just finished Chapter Two. It is really amazing how much French he has picked up in such a short period of time. We went out to dinner with my parents and he spoke to them in French in relatively complete sentences for about three minutes. Everyone at the table was really impressed. What’s more, he is really enjoying reading the book and it doesn’t feel like work to him. And he is so proud of being able to speak in French and understand me when I speak to him. I’ve started speaking to him in French at least once a day in addition to the reading.
This little anecdote to me illustrates the incredible power of using comprehensible input to acquire language. To quote the Monkees, I’m a believer!
Next up – I’m going to try to read the same book translated into Italian to brush up on my own language skills. My Italian is sooooo rusty.