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Lycee Français Charles de Gaulle - who can tell me what it's really like in the collège?

(6 Posts)
Chenille Sun 30-Mar-14 19:16:05


My son (very average, active, not bookish, has to be cajoled into doing homework etc) is currently in CM2 - his last year of primary. I'm English, but also speak fairly good French. Dad is French-speaking.

We speak mainly English at home and my husband travels a lot for work so it's up to me to help with homework. There isn't really much exposure to French apart from visits to and by French speaking family & friends. My son feels more comfortable conversing/reading in English.

He has managed to keep up so far depending on the teachers he's had. Some more laid back than others. But it's been hard work. Teachers say that he needs to speak more French outside school and have mentioned more than once how hard it is in the collège.

I am concerned whether he will manage. My husband insists that he will be fine and that overcoming difficulties and having to work hard will stand him in good stead for the future. He doesn't think that kids in English schools are pushed to work hard and believes that the French school system is the best in the world.

Can anyone tell me what it's like from 6ème upwards especially for kids who speak mainly English at home? Also, does anyone have any experience of the new international section as I wonder whether my son would be better off there as pupils do more English.

Thanking you in advance.

scooterland Mon 31-Mar-14 14:56:04

II would check with the Lycee re: recruitment for the international section as I understood last year that children from the bilingual classes were going to have places automatically but that might not be the case for everyone on the French side only.
There's another thread on here where someone posted about their experience of the lycee that you might find useful to read. My understanding is that whatever section you're in it's pretty academic. I would also check that the international section is not in fact even more work than the standard stream.

Have you considered having a French speaker to help with homework? That might help improve the situation?

Middleagedmotheroftwo Mon 31-Mar-14 14:59:14

Have you considered sending your DC off to stay with French family for several weeks in the school holidays - his French would come on leaps and bounds if he spoke it all day, every day for a month.

DoMyBest Thu 24-Apr-14 21:48:27

It sounds like you're questionning whether the French education system is the 'best in the world'? As someone who did both CDG and the English system, and then went on to read law in the UK and France, I'd recommend you examine the differences more concretely.
My experience - and I'm generalising - is that the French teach you to learn by heart whereas the English teach you to think for yourself. As for the argument that the French system is more academic: I think people often confuse 'strict' with 'academic': they are not the same (that's a reason cited by some of our friends for pulling their children out of the Lycee & putting them into more academically challenging UK schools).
Of course you need to balance this against your wish for your son to be bilingual in French, and immersed in the French culture - such a gift to 'get' both.

duckylou Fri 02-May-14 04:54:36

The lycée only has a british section from quatrieme (Year 9 in british system) age about 14y onwards. Entry via French section.
in our experience abroad in French system, sixieme was a difficult transition from junior school. The students were treated like a university student. had to organise their day moving round the school, no pastoral care, no induction. It does not depend on the language dominance though. Was same for some all french kids. Ours transferred to international after suffering in sixieme (tho i later found out another mum had similar issues at Year 7 level in international section!)
i would stress in hindsight though, if its not working, take some steps to communicate with the school. in my experience the prof principale needs to be encouraged to even speak individually to kids.ours hadn't even spoke to ours by may of the academic year.

duckylou Fri 02-May-14 05:06:17

Ps if the 'bilingual section' exists for the new intake, here are some more comments from me.
ours continued in 'bilingue' (part of French section) abroad where we live. the bilingue is considered a heavier workload generally, as there is often more homework. homework wasn't an issue for us, but the maths in both languages i think was bit confusing (better to just pick to teach it in one of the languages) . some french kids get transferred back into french section.

in junior 'bilingue' was alternate days English/French. In sixieme not. The subjects were divided, some taught in french, some english (it was more french actually, not 50/50)

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