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Advice - send non-French speakers to local French school?

Posted by sunnywithachance - Created: 4 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by marso - 4 years ago

I have a thread going at the minute about the bitish school in Mougins-private- all English teaching.

I intend to send my 16 year old there for last 2 years of school because it's really too late for him to learn enough french to be schooled in it and 2 years isn't that long to pay private fees.

In your situation I think your kids are at an in between age for becoming fluent-they are a bit older than is ideal but you would still be faced with 7-10 years of private fees if you go down that route so maybe it is worth perservering with the french system, which has it's drawbacks it has to be said.

Namely rote learning, lack of praise and encouargement leading to lack of confidence and lack of independant thinking. Ok -British schools may have gone too far in the opposite direction but I have heard french schooling described as being like 50's style British schooling, which some may say is no bad thing!

There have been articles about this recently in the press. Here is a link to an article written in response to Stephen Fry saying that the french were better educated than the british- and if we look at the recent table of the top 20 universities in the world-we don't see many french ones!


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Posted by dotbaumann - 4 years ago

I I think it depends on the child, but we have wonderful experiences with French public school so far.  We sent our daughter to pain d'Epice the bilingual school last year and it was a bad experience. Not only did she learn French at a much much slower rate but the facilities and teaching staff are sub-par. We didnt believe the French when they told us that "private" in France just means unregulated and run by greedy for-profit administrators. The teachers aren't required to have the usual qualifications and the children are incredibly badly behaved.  The english teacher was a pure gem, however - she made life bearable for my daughter. In the US and UK I think we expect private schools to provide a better education than public, and we have learned the inverse is true here ( with exceptions of course). The bilingual schools are good for French kids who want to attain fluency in english and I understand that goal, but for an Anglophone it is not a good fit. There was also a case of bullying that they did not address and the children were generally just more snotty than the kids in her public school - though she may have had just a bad batch of troublemaking classmates so I don't want to generalize.  In both schools the French teachers are much stricter and old school than we are used to -- more like it was when I was a kid, and a little fear of authority is not necessarily a bad thing. 

If you are here for just a short span then the international or private schools have some possibilities but for quick immersion I believe the public schools are best, even though it may be more painful in the beginning.  just my experience and there is no right answer on this. Best of luck to you!

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Posted by ibseur - 4 years ago

If your kids speak French + English, that will be an asset. The problem is in the immediate term: they run the risk of having to repeat a year.

You will need to give them A LOT of French tuition.


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Posted by nag champa - 4 years ago

Our kids were the same age as yours when we moved to france (Brittany) 8 years ago.  They went to french private (catholic) school, had lots of help when they needed it and are bilingual now.  Eldest just passed the BAC S with a mention bien and starts at Edinburgh Uni next week.  Youngest passed Brevet with a mention bien and starts in second to do a BAC S on Tuesday.Neither has ever needed to redouble.

I have heard horror stories but we were lucky with our local French school, also up here there really isnt the choice of an international school so it was a bit in at the deep end, which can work out Ok!

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Posted by hermosabeach - 4 years ago

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss your schooling options.  Two important questions are where were they in school before and where you live.  I would highly suggest that you make yourself knowledgable about the French system before you make your decision.  It is not so much an issue that your children don't speak French - it is the fact that the French system is not very "child-friendly".  There are other options if you would like them to learn French rather than putting them into a local school.  

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Posted by haiku-909540 - 4 years ago

We have been here for about 18 months having travelled from Australia.  My daughter was 7 when she started school here and after a year in a French Catholic School she is fluent in French and is confident and comfortable speaking it.  When we arrived we sent her to a private bi-lingual school as a 'soft landing' option.  We thought having English and French would be a good start for her, however, she ended up speaking no French in the 5 months that she was there and was understimulated!  She was THRILLED when she went to a 'real' school and was able to interact with the kids in a way she knew how.  Unless your children are particularly shy, they will be fine in a French school.  But again it does depend on which one.  Good luck with your search, as a parent you want to make the best decision for your kids, but remember they are pretty resilient.  Happy to chat more with you if you need to.  

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Posted by madjen - 4 years ago

We have a five-year-old and a 10-year-old. There is no right answer here. At the end of the day kids survive a number of challenges because they are strong and have good enerry Or they simply have to. But then there is the concern that they will become alienated. And falter. When we arrived a few years ago we enrolled our children in a private bilingual school. The truth of the matter is outside of ISN and Mougin, Most of the schools that say they are bilingual are not. They have an English teacher in each grade and the majority of the students are French and all of the administrative people are French. So that is not bilingual. The good news is that the child will have to learn French unless of course he is cloistered in ISN. So, we offer no advice but share our good success with you. We started the children at a bilingual school, with a tutor twice a week for three hours in total. Ultimately the children did well, and were excelling by the end of their second year.  Then onto french school for college In Cimiez

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Posted by Sophia-184227 - 4 years ago

This is a tough one but if you plan to live in France for sometime, it is important that your children learn French.  Our kids managed this but were only 3 years old - so much easier - they were "fluent" in 4 months.  Also note, that your 10 year old should be going into CM1 and this is the hardest year of primary school.  With no French starting CM1, I believe they will be lost as this particular year has a lot of grammar to learn and with no foundation your child will not cope.  I suggest you (a) arrange some play dates with French kids - to try and get that some early language experience before starting school (you have two weeks!).  (b) Get a tutor for the next 2 weeks to help kick start some basic French.   (b) Place your 10 year child into CE2 and and not CM1 - it will give them one year to get the basics covered before attempt the really hard CM1 year.  As CM2 is basically a repeat of CM1 you child may be able to jump back to their own age group, if necessary.  Likewise, if you place your 8 year old into CP (that's the class for 6-7 year) they will receive the basic foundation to read and write French - or get a tutor to cover this for you on Wednesday and or at weekends.


It's not going to happen overnight but getting a good foundation and support will ensure your kids are not lost.

Whilst billingual school may seem a good way to go, the children will lean on their new English friends and their progress in French will be much more slow.

Ultimately it will come down to your children and your longterm plans.  Good luck.





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Posted by nissalabella - 4 years ago

fully agree with Sally, it can be a very positive and UNIQUE experience to have your children try the French educational system, even though it is very different from the anglo-saxon one.  I would try to book them in the nearest French school - not private - and you'll be amazed of the progresses they can make in no time at all!  We spent 2 years in Portugal and our son - 2 years then - went to a sort of kindergarden in the morning, just to be with people of his age, and it worked very well although, after we left, he forgot his portuguese and went back to French and English with no problem at all!

Good luck!


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Posted by sally30 - 4 years ago

we put our 2 kids (then aged 8 and 6) into the local french school without a word of french and they were absolutely fine! Fluent after 4 months and still perfectly happy 2 years later. The school were very helpful even tho its only a tiny village school - there were 2 other non-french speaking kids who started when ours did so the school had a resource to give them about 4 hours intense french lessons a week (mainly when the rest of the class were doing English). We could speak enough french to help with homework, and the school advised us not to take any private tutors at that stage as they said they were already getting enough instruction at school and a further teacher would just be too much. Although there aren't many foreign kids at our school there were a couple of other anglophones who helped them out in the first few weeks and since then, my two have helped several new foreign kids get settled - in our experience it really didn't take long and their french is now impeccable!