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Nervous for dcs starting at a french school

(3 Posts)
lozzyblue Thu 25-Aug-11 20:00:16

Hello all, just looking for a bit of reassurance from others who may have had a similar experience?

We have recently relocated to Belgium and our dc will be starting at local schools as we'd love for them to have the opportunity to learn a new language. DD is 4 (just turned) and DS is 2.5

I'm so frightened for them to go into a school where the children and teachers speak only French and worry that they will find it stressful.

Would love to hear others experiences? Is there anything I can do for them to make it easier? We are going into the school tomorrow before term starts which I hope will be helpful for my DD to familiarise herself a little.

TIA

joruth Fri 26-Aug-11 13:08:00

Hi, I don't really have the same experience but here in the uk I am a childminder and 4 out of 6 of my minded children are foreign language speakers at home. They are aged between 1 and 5. Please try not to worry...they will be AMAZINGLY adept at picking up the language. Some tips that I use with the minded chhildren are to use a word in both languages for real essentials (drink, hungry, potty/toilet) which you could start at home. make sure you are using and encouraging the children to read non-verbal signals ( hand gestures, facial expression etc.)...sometimes we forget to face children when we talk and they miss these vital clues which will be even more important in their new environment. When my children were younger than yours ( I have 4) they were completely un-phased by language barriers and just played happily mixing up as many words as they knew in the new language with English.
I am sure they will have a great time and hope that you soon all make friends and feel at home.

Longtime Fri 26-Aug-11 17:12:42

Hi lozzyblue, how are you doing? I'm going to pm you but want to put something on here as well.

All three of mine went through this and being in a class of 25 with a teacher is not the same as being with a childminder so it most probably won't be as easy an experience as for the children joruth minds. However, part of that is going to a new school of course regardless of the language. Ds1 had a hard time (cried every day for ages) but then his teacher was pretty useless - she was just biding her time until she retired. Ds2 was fine but his teacher was great. Dd had a hard time of it even though out of three of them she'd heard the most French by far before going to school. I literally had to peel her off me in the mornings sad . She eventually stopped though smile . However, there was a little girl in her class who cried every day for two terms when her mum left and she was a French speaker!

Also, don't be surprised if it takes longer for them to speak French than most people think it does. My dd is 12 and going into secondary school (and pretty nervous about it). She is of course fluent but she still has a smaller vocabulary than her French-speaking classmates after all these years. I suppose having no French at home (so no adult French) means that that's inevitable really but of course she makes up for it with being bilingual. It's also true that different children pick it up at different speeds. I was amazed when I went to natation's house at the beginning of the summer. They haven't been here that many years but three of her dcs were speaking to one another in French! Mine have never done that (unless their French-speaking friends are around) despite having been born here!

As for tips, joruth's idea of a word in both languages for real essentials is a great one. Also the hand gestures as that's what they use to start with.

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