How am I supposed to remember that?

What is the most effective way of helping children remember everyday (but irregular) French words and phrases?

As we all know, learning anything is a lot easier when it is associated with a meaning.  So remembering that the French for “It’s cold” is “Il fait froid,” becomes easier when one points out to children that “froid” is a bit like “frozen” and similar to “fridge”. 

And because the brain is just as capable of remembering three words together as it is two words, the fact that in French we say, “Il fait” when discussing the weather is also remembered alongside the word “froid”.

After that, if we add the fact that the French equivalent for “It’s a nice day” or “It’s sunny” is “Il fait beau,” the use of “Il fait” is reinforced, while “beau” is remembered as being akin to “beautiful”.  The links are established.

But what can one do when there is no immediate link you can think of between the French and English?  Quite often it is still possible to invent a link which the children will quickly learn to associate.

Take “It’s windy” for example.  How do we get some more wind into the classroom?  We open the windows of course (an interesting point in itself, since many children do not associate the word “wind” with the word “window”).

In this way we increase the ventilation.  (OK, its not a direct link between window and ventilation, but there is a similarity which is all one needs.)

And now “Il fait du vent” becomes instantly memorable.  And the fact remains that it is possible to invent and remember hundreds of such associations, because our brains are designed to remember associations, rather than individual words.

If you would like to see more associations for the verb “faire,” or how to help children understand how accents fall, or indeed to see a wall chart on how French works, you can find these examples and more on our website for the book Unforgettable French.

It is quite simply, a book which uses memory tricks along with sound and idea associations to help speed up and reinforce the memorisation of the major points of French grammar.  You can download examples of how this works on the Unforgettable French web pages.

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