Learning about France in Pittsburgh

Learning about France in Pittsburgh | Multicultural Kid Blogs

The summers here in Pittsburgh are fun – we take lots of trips to the pool, we try to go camping, we join the library book club and we do a lot of exploring around the city. But this summer, we have a new goal: the kids want to start learning another language and they decided on French.

I definitely encouraged them to embark on this goal, and I’m so happy they were excited to take it on. My children are upcoming 1st and 3rd graders, and language classes in our school district curriculum don’t start for another few years. I want them to get started now so I made a plan for getting started this summer through activities for learning about France right around our city. I took French in high school, so I’m excited to relearn with them. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing to learn the language and, beyond that, learn about French culture in Pittsburgh this summer.

Learning French through typical camp activities. Photo: Mandy Yokim
Learning French through typical camp activities at French Immersion Camp. Photo: Mandy Yokim

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1) Immersion Language Camp

I signed my kids up for a week-long French camp. While there will be classroom-like sessions, the majority of the camp will involve learning French through activities like playing outside, swimming, cooking, canoeing, archery, crafts and sports. Even mealtimes will offer an opportunity to learn the language.

2) French classes

During July, we had hoped to take French lessons twice a week through a school program in our area. The lessons were divided by grade levels and, unfortunately, there were not enough children signed up for our section so we’re considering doing some private tutoring instead.

Samplings from French bakeries in Pittsburgh. Photo credits L-R: Gaby et Jules, Jean-Marc Chatellier's, and La Gourmandine.
Samplings from French bakeries in Pittsburgh. Photo credits L-R: Gaby et Jules, Jean-Marc Chatellier’s, and La Gourmandine.

3) Food

We have French bakeries and restaurants in Pittsburgh. Our plan is to visit each of the authentic bakeries which are in different neighborhoods (because can you ever have too many French pastries?): Jean-Marc Chatellier’s in Millvale, Gaby et Jules in Squirrel Hill and the original La Gourmandine in Lawrenceville. We may also have lunch one day at Paris 66 and practice reading the menus. We will also grab a savory or sweet crepe from the Pgh Crepes food stand that pops up all around town at community events. I’m also excited to cook some French recipes from the website Global Table Adventures.

Visiting museums to view the work of French artists. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Visiting museums to view the work of French artists. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

4) Art

We are fortunate here in Pittsburgh to have some wonderful art museums like the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Frick Art Museum. We plan to take a day or two and go visit the art museums to see work by French artists such as Claude Monet, Jean-Francois Millet, Paul Cezanne and more! Here’s a link to the Carnegie Museum of Art collection where you can sort by French artist and type of work. We’re excited to visit the museum again with just an eye for the French art.

The French Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
The French Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

5) Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh

The Nationality Rooms are a collection of classrooms that reflect the ethnic diversity of Pittsburgh. There is a French room that represents the Empire Period of 18th century France. We have visited before but we plan to go again this summer. You can click on the French room from this link and watch a short video that will give you an online tour. We’ll make sure to return to the Nationality Rooms in December for the Open House, which includes ethnic dancing, food, music and holiday decorations.

Learning about French through books, movies and music.
Learning about French through books, movies and music.

6) Multimedia

We plan to watch some French films like The Red Balloon. We’ve watched this film before but we’ll watch it again along with some other age-appropriate films I found on these lists here and here. We’ll also check out some French cartoons from this list by Kid World Citizen.

We found several books that we’ll read this summer, including The First 100 Words in French book by Usborne Publishing. I love the online feature that supplements this book. When you’re learning a new language, it’s extremely helpful to be able to hear the words spoken so you know you’re getting the pronunciation correct.

We also checked out a few French music CDs from the library that we’ve enjoyed listening to in the car and trying to hear French words that we know. Our favorite so far is the French Playground collection by Putumayo.

These are a few of the things we’ll be doing as we learn French this summer. The kids can already count in French and say a few phrases – here’s hoping it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of learning. When we eventually visit France, we’ll be ready!

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Mandy Yokim

Mandy Fields Yokim is a nationally published writer and editor based in the Pittsburgh area. Her work has appeared in Parents Magazine, Blue Ridge Country Magazine, NEXTpittsburgh, Kidsburgh, TEQ Magazine, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and nearly 20 parenting publications across the United States and Canada. Her blog posts have appeared online at Pittsburgh Magazine, Kid World Citizen and Wonderaddo (http://www.wonderaddo.com/), the global education initiative she founded in 2013 to encourage kids and families to explore the world in Pittsburgh.

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6 thoughts on “Learning about France in Pittsburgh”

  1. Leigh-Anne Weiss

    C’est Magnifique! I find this post very inspiring! I’d love to try some of this with my little ones. My son has a particular interest in the Eiffel Tour and we’ve done some basic French at the dinner table. I took 5 years of French in high school and struggle to remember most of it!

  2. Great article…I am so proud of you. I will have the most fluent French speaking and culturally aware grandkids ever.!!!!! Love you.

  3. I’ve been following this blog for a while and was excited when I saw this post since I live in Pittsburgh, too! How awesome to see another momma raising language-loving global kids in the same city. Thanks for the post! P.S. La Gourmandine is AMAZING!

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