The Lacelle family lived in Peterborough for a number of years, and then Mike was given the opportunity for a promotion--if he could speak French. He had grown up speaking French and hobnobbing with French-speakers, but by this time he was rusty. Nevertheless, feeling he could handle it, Mike moved the family to Sudbury where there is a large percentage of French-speakers. I had taken five years of French in high school but didn't remember much--"je parle le francais seulement un peu," I told anyone who asked. When we first moved to Sudbury, it felt very strange to walk through the mall and hear French being spoken all around me. Clearly, neither of us was really qualified to instruct our children in the French language! (By the way Mike is very successful and popular here, we love Sudbury, and are very glad we moved.)
We did want to give our children some exposure to French, so I borrowed a few fun things from the local library. From "Harraps French for Fun" the kids learned about such things as the weather and colours, and how to call for help or announce that something was on fire. They generally loved these lessons but I found it hard to get them to settle down to plain, ordinary academic work afterwards--so we didn't do that for too long. The next year we tried a cheap workbook/cassette tape program we found at a small local home curriculum shop, with the idea of learning some vocabulary. From the workbook, we made and coloured flash cards and used them while listening to the tape. We also used them for games a fair bit. That curriculum had an even shorter shelf-life in our home. In the busyness of more pressing subjects like social studies, science, reading and arithmetic, French language instruction got left behind in the dust.
By 2001, I discovered that French was required for high school graduation (and anyway, kids with the name "Lacelle" really ought to speak French, n'est ce pas?), so I was on the hunt again. Something much more aggressive was clearly called for. I did some research amongst home school suppliers for French curricula, and found some interesting things. After a great deal of consideration, we decided to purchase The Rosetta Stone--a pricey but highly recommended computerized language instruction product, which I purchased from Sonlight Curriculum. Rosetta Stone (developed by Fairfield Language Technologies) markets programs for schools (in many languages), so these were clearly heavy-duty materials that could be used by all four of us--and many more. Using the SMS (Student Management System) I was able to define my own tutorial scheme at various levels, and assign each of us to a "class" with me as the administrator. The tutorials themselves were, of course, provided by The Rosetta Stone software. TUTORIALS:
Listening & Reading
Speaking Skill To do the Speaking Skill exercises, the student simply signed in to the required lesson and used the speaking tool, which allowed them to hear and then say the words and see on a graph how well their speech patterns matched those of the language-speaker on the computer. Very clever! The program also included a Student Study Guide containing grammar lessons, and optional workbooks.
This was so awesome that I advertised computerized French lessons in my home, on a computer network. (By the way, these computers could be used by customers for other purposes, so I designed a simple contract for their use.) My business license limited me to seat only three customers at a time, but I could schedule them at any time that was convenient. At the time I was part of an online group of Rosetta Stone users, so I shared with them what I was doing--and several asked if they could have my Student Management System lesson scheme, too, since they had found it difficult to understand and use the SMS. (Fairfield has since simplified it.) I was very happy to help! I also offered the document files of the French flash cards and the check-off lists I had created for monitoring repeated reviews of grammar lessons from the Student Study Guide. Those items are available to you at a minimal charge from my Connie's Products page: the SMS chart, French flash cards, and the grammar check-off lists.)
The Rosetta Stone program is set up in two levels having a total of 210 lessons (each having 9 optional tutorials, 10 if you include the speaking skill option) so that amounts to 2100 possible interactions with the program. (It is not necessary to do all of them!) These two levels can be accomplished within 2 years or stretched out to 4-5 or more years to suit your needs. By the time Jennifer "graduated" to public high school, she had almost finished level I (with the exception of the Writing Tutorials). She struggled a bit with the required French class at school (probably because she didn't do the Writing Tutorials), but the teacher remarked on her progress report that she had a "strong grasp of sentence structure." I think that is due to her use of The Rosetta Stone program, and am very glad we purchased it. Unfortunately I have had to suspend my in-home French lessons, but I hope to reinstate that part of my business at a future date.
The Lacelles are no longer homeschooling, yet I still feel like a "homeschooler." Doing it and creating products (see my product brochure) because I was doing it is now in my blood! I changed my business name from HELPS to CQC (Connie's Quick Computers) a few years ago so as to include the several different things I was doing, and with the introduction of this new website have morphed it again--into Home and School Solutions, a name that more truly reflects what I am all about while still including several different things that are going on in my life. I have every intention of finishing my projects if the Creator wills it, though there are lots more things consuming my interest and attention these days. I never would have thought I'd have a 24 year old son and a 22 year old daughter! Where do the years go?
Mike still works in that technology store, and still supports my projects. I am fortunate to have such freedom to pursue my interests and to produce something that, hopefully, blesses others. Jonathan and Jennifer each "graduated" to public school for grade 9, both have graduated from college programs, and their lives are much different. They have new friends, new interests, new skills, new opportunities. I am very proud of them! We were not actively involved with a homeschooling group here in Sudbury even when we were "real" homeschoolers, but were loosely associated with one that we started out attending once in a while when we first moved to Sudbury. It's great to bump into friends even now that we made in the early days, and it's awesome to watch all our children grow up and take their places in society.
SUNSET CALCULATOR: Sun or Moon Rise/Set
Print One Year Table