Wednesday, July 11, 2012

French App of the Week: BookBox French

I have blogged about BookBox in the past when I was using it to teach Portuguese to my 4-year old daughter.  I am very elated to see there is also a French version of BookBox as an app you can use to listen to stories and read along in French.

The stories are animated with a read-along feature, highlighting the words as they are being read.  It apparently has been scientifically proven that the read-along (SLS) feature strengthens reading skills as words are highlighted in sync with the spoken word.

What I really like about BookBox is that the stories are available in several languages.  Although I see the value of an immersive approach to learning a language, I can also see the benefits of supporting the target language acquisition through one's native language.  My daughter, for example, has listened to stories both in English (her native language) and Portuguese and French (target languages).  She has shown an ability to form associations between words in English and Portuguese/French when using the same stories in both the native and target language.

For stories in other languages on BookBox, you can visit their Youtube channel and browse through their playlists in other languages.  Ads sometimes play before some of the stories on Youtube.  You can also download the BookBox app in English, Spanish, and Mandarin at the Google Play Store.

I would recommend this app for beginner- and intermediate- level French learners.  This would be a great app to use with French learners in the car, at home, or in the classroom (if you are a teacher).  I would recommend you watch the story in your native language to understand it and ask your child questions about the story in French.  Encourage them to answer in French, too!  Although you may not understand, it is good practice for your child to speak in French.  As a way of initiating this, point to items that were identified in French and ask your child to tell you what they are.  But don't pressure your child to say the words, especially if he/she is new to learning the language.  Young children especially may not be receptive to saying the words when learning a language.  That isn't to say they don't know the words.   They often are still processing the words in their minds and getting used to the new sounding vocabulary.   Don't be fooled as they may understand a lot more than you may think!  I found that for months, my daughter would initially not say the words in Portuguese nor French.  Then out of the blue, she started pronouncing words in the target languages.  Be patient :-)

To download BookBox, go to the site.  It is available for iPad and Android tablets.