Health and Learning

Learning French, or any language, is not just songs, flashcards, and books. It is also about being ready to learn, physically and mentally. As Grade 5 and 6 Late French Immersion students, we know that learning a new language requires a healthy body and mindset.

Learning a new language can be very challenging, but having a healthy mindset helps us to persevere. We don’t just give up when faced with a challenge. We don’t say, “I can’t do this.” We reframe it by saying, “I can’t do this yet,” and think of a new way to practice or give ourselves time to improve. 

“I used to confuse the verbs avoir and être, but instead of quitting, I wrote each out 5 times and practiced,” said Kylar. 

Families can support their child by maintaining a positive attitude towards learning French and encouraging their child to persevere.

We know that mistakes are okay. As we say in French, “Fais des fautes – c’est comme ça qu’on apprend.” (Mistakes are how we learn.) 

“People with a growth mindset1, as opposed to a fixed mindset, learn a lot more from their mistakes and are better able to overcome challenges,” said Viktor. 

As French language learners, we can be tempted to use Google Translate. But we know we won’t actually learn French or improve that way. We are better off using our own French and making mistakes that we can learn from. 

“Mistakes are proof that you are trying,” said Haleigh.  

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t pushing yourself [to learn more],” said Elliot. 

Families can support their child learning French by modelling that challenges are a part of life. We learn from mistakes and shouldn’t try to avoid them. Families can also remind their child not to compare themselves to others. 

“[Often], when we compare ourselves to others, it can make us feel worse,” said Aila. 

“You may even stop trying to improve,” said Evie. 

Look to others to learn from and celebrate their successes, but don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We should only compare ourselves to our own progress. Celebrate that your child knows a new word, can understand their teacher better than last week, or can say more numbers in French than last year. Celebrate progress!

Our brains are working overtime in French, so it is crucial we also have healthy habits to continue to progress in our language learning. 

“If you have a good sleep and eat well, you’ll have a positive attitude and find it easier to learn,” said Aila. 

Movement and exercise are also key. If you’re feeling stuck, “go on a run before completing homework. It will help keep your mind fresh and energized,” said Lilly. 

Families can set their child up for success by encouraging movement and healthy eating, and helping their child get 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The way we think, eat, sleep, and take care of our minds and bodies can best prepare us for language learning. As we say in French, “Un esprit sain dans un corps sain!” (Healthy body, healthy mind.)

1 “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Carol Dweck, 2015).