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1 year to live in france: French or Bilingue School?

Posted by geegi - Created: 5 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by TeachEnglish-312892 - 5 years ago


Hi there,

I'm now 20 but moved to France at 10. 

My parents put me in a French school. It was extremely hard but after 1 year I spoke reasonably fluent French (there is alway more to learn, even after 10 years). 

After the this they put me in an international school. This was better as the lessons that were in English allowed me to relax. 

The French school in Le Rouret is meant to be good plus there is a bus service to and from Grasse. 

However I went to the CIV which has both the International OPTION (meaning most lessons in French with a couple in English) and a normal French section. Although a tough course this school is very renown throughout the world and is a gateway to universities shuh as Cambridge, Yale well the best of the best. Plus the bus service again. 

For any info please feel free to contact someone who has first hand experience as a child growing up in aforeign country. 



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Posted by Steve0614 - 5 years ago

Hi Geegi

We spent 2 years in France on the Cote d'Azur and we didnt know how things were going to turn out. When we arrived in Sophia we went to visit ALL schools in the area and to be honest we got disappointed with the French schools that were just a bit "too" French, i mean, with no English at all. Mougins School has a great campus but there's very little French taught. Though we were only in France for 2 years, I thought having my children learn French was important. Eventually my wife and i enrolled them at EBICA a bilingual private school in Sophia antipolis. The French/English program they offer is quite appealing and my children absolutely loved their 2 years there! If you are thinking of going private, I'd definitely recommend that school in Sophia.

Steve J.

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Posted by Gillian1170 - 5 years ago

We sent our son to a French maternal and primary school when he was 3 with no French at all.  The reason for that was that our French was very poor at the time and felt that he needed as much exposure to French as possible. There were no English speaking kids there when he joined. He had a difficult fist year but adjusted as his French improved. We moved him to a bilingual class in a semi-private secondary school when he was 11 to keep his level of written English where he is doing well and is happy.  He is completely bilingual. He is now 15 and although in a different secondary school from the friends he made in primary school, he still sees these French friends regularly.

If you're planning to stay for only one year and your daughter has already had a bad experience I would advise you to either send her to a French school that has many English or foreign kids attending OR a semi-private international class such as the CIV. It's important for her not to feel too different as she will already be 'the new girl' in the class at that age.  This last school will follow the same curriculum as the French school but will also have English to an international level and History/Geography will be half and half.  She will already be in the deep end with French in this system and have to speak and write mostly in French but will not feel the odd one out by being foreign.  There will be kids of all nationalities in her class who want to speak English well. The level of French in this school will have to be as high as in any French school whereas the completely private international schools such as Mougins and Nice are deemed to have lower levels of French and are much more expensive (about 10 times more expensive). 

I hope this helps, G

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Posted by YLHH - 5 years ago

We have three children schooling at Cour Saint Maur in Monaco.  It is  French speaking but many of the teachers speak English.  Our daughter started at the age of four and had no knowledge of the French language.  Within two terms she was fluent and is now aged eight and an A Grade student.  We often receive comments that people cannot believe she is English as her French is so good!  Two of our boys have followed in her footsteps and are also doing well.  We have found the school to be very caring and nurturing.  The students have English lessons from the age of three so your child would not be surrounded by totally non speaking English people.  We cannot recommend this school highly enough and never considered going down the International school route.  Please contact me if any of this has been of help.

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Posted by Norab6 - 5 years ago

May I ask what a semi private school is? Also the school that was mentioned...crpsbousquet.....is this school only for children with dyslexia or would a child with sensory issues and Auditory processing disorder also be able to attend?


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Posted by Flexi-Services - 5 years ago


I'd definately recommend the CIV (Centre International de Valbonne), it's an international school, partially state school, so most classes are in french, with, if you choose to, certain classes in english, italian, russian or even chinese...! All International section teachers are native speakers. Most kids speak english there, so whatever you choose, your children will benefit from a totally international environment with at least two languages spoken on an every day basis. Furthermore, the school offers a wide variety of activities, ranging from theatre to tennis, lots of sports and facilities on site. I'd recommend checking it out on www.civfrance.com for details. I went there myself years ago, and have lots of friends who have sent their children there, some are currently attending secondary school there right now. All comments (around me) are positive. 

Good luck with whatever you choose, from my point of view, CIV offers best of both worlds!

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Posted by geegi - 5 years ago

Hello everyone

Thank you very much for responding. I have been very pleased to have read about your experiences, both good and bad and it has definitely helped me make some decisions. I will certainly take the time over the next few weeks to reread everything and repost if I have more questions

Happy holidays and thanks again!


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Posted by kiwogs - 5 years ago

Hi there

We moved to France from the lovely Cormandel Coast in NZ in July this year.  I have an 8 yr old (in CE2 year in French system) and a 4yr old.

Neither of my children spoke French when we arrived, but we thought it would be best to chuck them in at the deep end & hopefully within a year they'll be away laughing.

We have had an extremely difficult time coming to grips with schooling in France coming from a rural NZ school where families & parents were welcomed into the school & all new students were nurtured & assisted in their arrival to the school.  Parents were always included in any school trips or camps and volunteered at the school to assist with reading recovery, maths recovery, swimming, sports, ag day, etc..

BE AWARE .... The school system here is rigid to the extreme. My personal experience with both state school - which we lasted 3 weeks in because it was so unpleasant with no support for 2 little kids who were new to the country & language - and private school, where they are now, is that I am locked out of the school.  You deliver your kids to the gate & leave & they lock the gate behind you.  You are then only let in at the end of the day when they unlock the gate again & your kids come out to you.  

I would steer well clear of the state system, the classes are big and whilst they may tell you they can deal with a child who does not speak French, they generally cannot.  There was no support for either of my kids in the State school to show them around or get them included with the kids.  They were not allowed to stay for lunch at the canteen so I picked them up & was only allowed to return them when lessons started again in the afternoon so they had no chance to make friends & play & learn French in the playground - it was a disasterous start to our life in France.

The new school, in Villeneuve-Loubet is decidedly better, but there are still some difficulties.  

The French learning system is pretty draconian - every child must write in the French script style, so if your child prints then be ready for them to be hassled about that & they'll probably have to do extra lessons at lunch to learn how to write like a French person - our experience is they're pretty anal about the writing style.  There is very little positive encouragement for any improvement & it's pretty much being talked at and memorising.  There are very high expectations of how quickly a child should be able to conjugate verbs when they have never spoken, written or read the language.

Wherever you choose you will need to be ready to get in there & keep in the Director/Directrice & teachers ears to ensure you know what's going on. Do not assume that because they tell you they know how to deal with kids who are coming in without the language that they actually do know how to do it well or at all.  My experience is that French schools do not welcome parents input at all & so if you want to make sure your child has a good experience you're gonna have to be a bit unpopular with the powers that be so that you know what's going on.

If I was going to be here for a year only I'd maybe look at an English language school to keep their home education going well & then pay for someone to come & do private French lessons for the language experience.

After what we've been through so far if we weren't here for the long run my kids would be in an English speaking school so when I went home they were not a year behind.

I'm sure there are people who've had better experiences than us but you really do need to be prepared for a schooling system vastly different from the Antipodean way.

All the best


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Posted by Tony2101 - 5 years ago

Both of my yougest children have attended Fenelon in Grasse and we are pleased with the quality of education at this school. Orginally, they joined the normal French classes but more recently have moved to the International section. 

Our view is that this has been a great learing experience for the Children and they are now tri-lingual, with fluent English and French while also learning Spanish at the same time.

Of course, there will always be some problems at any school and Fenelon is no different - no school is perfect. But what we have found is that when there are problems you need to engage with the school to resolve any problems before they get out of hand. This is a normal part of parenting.....

One of my Children also attended Mougins International School many years ago and then went on to the CIV before heading to University. Mougin is fine if you want your child to have a normal "English based Education" but if you want your Child to gain a wider international experience we felt that the local French schools with Internal sections (Fenelon, CIV, etc) is a better choice....

What ever you do, don't listen to people that make genral remarks like French schools are bad, etc without doing your own research first and talking to other parents....

Good Luck with your search...


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Posted by 1850stjeannet - 5 years ago

Hi there, 

Whatever you decide to do I'd suggest you invest maximum effort in getting your childs french up to as high a spoken level as possible before you make the jump - switching schools in mid-school year is a shock even in ones own language and culture....its often difficult to integrate as friendships and peer groups are already formed. At the age of 10 the system (and kids!) isn't that cosy and caring (though the standard of French education is good) so proceed with extreme caution. If your child has memories of rejection at the age of 2 making the wrong choice could mean re-lighting the fire with reprocussions in an attitude to education, others and yourselves that might be difficult to address.

We installed my son who has a French mother and was schooled overseas in a French School from age of 3 till 8 into a "cosy" small village school at the age of 9, it was a disastor, he was ridiculed for being foreign and having learning difficulties (dyslexia), mishandled by certain of the teaching staff( there are good ones and bad ones in each school), despite us having done a lot of groundwork ourselves for the transition .  Finally with a severely depressed and suicidal 10 yr old we had to pull him from the state system, and put him into the semi-private in Nice (CRPS Bosquet) who saved the situation  - he completed his studies and is now a well adjusted adult in his 2nd year of university. The advantage of the switch was it had brilliant teaching staff, with a very small class size indeed - there was about 10 students in each year. Both kids and staff were supportive and invested in each other and the result is for every child involved an amazing success story. 

Good luck in your homework to trying to make the right decision...its one that doesn't come lightly, I'm sure you'll find what you need in the end.