How do I teach children French if I don’t know their mother tongue?

I have got quite many lessons with foreigners, including children learning French.

It could seem to be problematic if I don’t know their mother tongue. How then I cope with that when they’re just getting started with their adventure with French?


In spite of the fact that most of them (even 7-year-old children) know English, I try to avoid speaking it. We’re learning French, so every task is in this language and I only use English if something is really unclear.

By the way – it’s amazing how fluent in English present 7-year-old children are!


Yes, it is essential. Even if whole may seem to be unclear, elements like gesticulation, pictures or photographs help to understand the meaning. One can not forget about making various sounds – it also helps much in understanding. Of course, concerned word or sentence in French should be repeated later because the child has to get acquainted with language.

Here it must be noted that child has to look at the teacher at that time, otherwise it isn’t going to work.

Recently there was such a situation.
Two pupils almost whole lesson were saying “I don’t understand”. But if they were looking at me, they would know what am I talking to them. How can I know? Because only when they were looking, their reaction was correct.


Pictures and once again pictures! Many pictures and gesticulation. And repeating. Child learns his first language in exactly this way, isn’t it? Mum sits and asks “where is your nose? Ears? Now show me something red”. This is exactly the same. There will be time when child catches that.

I personally believe that not using first language is the best way of teaching. There’s no other way, you are forced to get along with someone, to understand each other.

Now, what about English? Well, it is a kind of facilitation. And child? Child picks up another foreign language 🙂

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