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Schooling in France- settling in

(30 Posts)
Lavenderhoney Tue 01-Jan-13 13:12:26

My dh is french and would jump at the chance to live there. We have a huge family network of only french speakers and a house, but it's at least an hour from an international school. My dc don't really speak French as my dh is very fluent in English and as he works very long hours and is often away, they are English speakers, with a smattering of French. They could not converse. They are 5 and 3.

Would they settle And learn the language quickly or should I think about putting them in a french school just in case we move? Ds will be attending an ib school and dd plans to start school in sept. I'm not sure about putting them into a French school just in case one day we end up in france!!

Any advice welcomesmile

fraktion Thu 03-Jan-13 16:34:28

If you moved now I would chuck them into French school. International school an hour away is a consideration for secondary but I would locally up to collège.

The changes of getting then into a French school (assuming you're in London) are reasonable given that your DH is French but you will meet problems if you don't speak enough to help with homework/liaise with the school. The only advantage of French schooling from the start is if your DC are Sept-Dec birthdays they will always be in the right academic year.

What about getting a French au pair to introduce them to the idea at home? Does your DH consistently speak to them in French?

Lavenderhoney Fri 04-Jan-13 03:23:10

We are not in the uk currently. D does speak to them in French when he is here and when he remembers. My French is ok. We don't need an au pair as I don't work and we can't afford to move for the extra pace and cost ( its very very expensive here)

There is a French school but like you say, I have pointed out to dh I would not be able to help them properly like you say which is a big factor due to his hours.
Thanks for replying though!

natation Fri 04-Jan-13 08:24:29

If you're in a French speaking country or near a French speaking school already, well then why wouldn't you send them there?

At the age of 3 and 5, they aren't going to need much help with school work.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Jan-13 14:11:27

It's a pity (though understandable) that your DC are not bilingual and I would encourage you to set them on the path to bilingualism as soon as possible. Surely you could put them in a French or bilingual school for primary and then re-assess when they move to secondary school?

Greythorne Fri 04-Jan-13 14:21:17

I think there are lots of things you can do to improve your DCs French short of putting them in a French language school. I think you need HOPOL (Hardcore One Parent One Language).

There's a thread here about it:

Lavenderhoney Fri 04-Jan-13 15:56:32

We are not in a French speaking country but there is a French school. I suppose we always thought we wold end up in the uk or stay here, then it makes sense for the dc to go to an ibc school as I am a Brit and I would be the one doings ll the support. I knw there is nt much at 3-5 but what about as they get older?
It's only recently we have talked about a move back to France.
I'll look at the other thread, thanks.

fraktion Fri 04-Jan-13 17:44:54

If France, and later education in the French system, is likely I would definitely go French from the start. If you're planning on going down the IB route I would say you need to move then at 11 but French primary schooling is probably more consistent than IB. That entirely depends on the IB school though.

Also is the French school AEFE or just a school in French? Is it majority francophone families or mostly local people/expats who want their DC in the French system? What's competition like? If you're in NYC or DC and have an IBO space I would cling onto it for dear life rather than risk the oversubscribed lycées.

natation Fri 04-Jan-13 18:04:16

Fraktion has some valid points about 1) curriculum, you would expect French national curriculum, not just a school in French, for moving on to either a school in France or another AEFE school and 2) the linguistic make-up of the school. I'm in Brussels, there are many "bilingual" schools here doing 50% French-English, but in reality many of them have few French speakers, some have none at all, many have few English speakers too. The resulting proficiency in English and French can vary from poor to non existent, amongst the children who arrive without English or French. I'd be wanting a French school where at least 50% of the children speak French at home too. As for supporting their French, well their dad, is he not able to do that? He's not the only dad in the world who works long hours, surely he is there some of the time?

What are your other options for schooling where you are?

CoucouCache Fri 04-Jan-13 18:55:34

My DD goes to a French school. DH is the french speaker, works long hours, etc. My french is ok and I don't have a problem supporting DD's learning, so it's do-able. DH also does a lot with DD over the weekend.
I imagine that when DD starts getting more complex homework, we would have to get a tutor ....

Lavenderhoney Sat 05-Jan-13 16:53:29

I'm sorry to say my dh would not be reliable enough for me to leave any homework help with him.i don't think we could afford tutors and anyway, I think it's somethng I saw myself doing. I think my dc would be at a disadvantage at a French school at the minute as we aren't in France with no help at home ( reading etc)
I think I will leave them in the ib for now as we have no clear plans for the future.

natation Sat 05-Jan-13 18:32:55

I'm wondering why there is the assumption that homework should be completed by parents? I expect the kids to do their own homework, on their own, I occasionally explain things but not often. Their teachers do make it quite clear that homework should be done unaided and answers not supplied by parents, our 7 year old is constantly telling me not to even look, as it's her work not mine.

I can understand one parent might not be able to help with reading, but you have a parent at home who can. I know plenty of children at our children's French school who are unable to help their children with either homework or guided reading, their children seem to do fine. In fact in our 11 year old's class the top performing children all speak a language other than French at home : English, Swedish, Taiwanese, Spanish and Japanese! The monolingual French speakers also score lower in Dutch! Same thing happening in our 7 year old's class. The bilinguals are the ones who seem to be more open to learning and it's no way because they are more intelligent. Most don't get help at home in French. If you really feel the need for extra help when your children are older, then just find a teenager from the same school interested in earning a few extra pounds or dollars or whatever.

fraktion Sat 05-Jan-13 19:08:54

Sometimes you need to understand what they have to do, listen to them read aloud, help then learn a poem - all things which are much easier when there's a fair amount of parental/carer involvement. Helping them with homework doesn't mean giving them the answers. It's much easier when you're dealing with homework in a language you are familiar with even if you're not using that language with the child.

I would hazard a guess that those children whose parents speak a different language are a lot more on top of homework than those who just assume their child is fine because they don't have a language barrier even if they aren't actively helping with production.

Greythorne Sat 05-Jan-13 19:19:32

My pre-reading 6 year old in CP recently had to learn a 36 line fable by LaFontaine off by heart. How would she do that on her own, without parental input?

natation Sat 05-Jan-13 20:25:07

you send her to a school where they aren't made to do things of no educational value like learning or you go on the internet and find an audio version of the poem, or you ask someone to read it and record it on your iphone.

Life is full of challenges, if you see only the barriers and not how to get over those barriers, then life can seem a whole lot less challenging and more fulfilling.

Greythorne Sat 05-Jan-13 20:26:44

That's a very funny answer, natation, based on the fact that learning by heart is prevalent in the majority of French schools!

Greythorne Sat 05-Jan-13 20:28:19

You do know, don't you, that some parents enjoy being involved in their children's school lives and using a recording on an iPhone would be a poor subsitute for ading and enjoying the poem together?

natation Sat 05-Jan-13 20:37:40

So just see the barrier then. What on earth do all those non French speaking parents do? Well they find ways around things or they don't if they aren't motivated.

There are plenty of non French speaking parents at our children's school who are very involved in the lives of their children and in the school community, I don't think they'd take kindly to being thought of failing their children in some way because of their shortcomings in French.

It's quite possible to enjoy reading a poem together without being fully fluent in French, or in any other language a poem is in.

Our children are obliged to learn Dutch at school, it's 4 hours a week. Several of the children have parents whose mother tongue is Dutch, I'm not one of them. I would however not hesitate to give a hand to our children, were they given some project which required my help in Dutch. My Dutch wouldn't even get me a GCSE grade. Same goes for 14 year old's Latin, or his Science, or his Maths, all of which would be hard to help him with but I wouldn't just give up.

Greythorne Sat 05-Jan-13 20:56:30

I think it's funny that you think I see only the barrier.

I support my children's education in two languages, have found a suitable private French language school for my DC because the local school is utterly unsuitable, found a suitable English language school which is an hour's drive away so seeing the barriers only just doesn't apply. But don't let that stand in the way of throwing around insults about seeing only barriers.

fraktion Sat 05-Jan-13 21:47:48

Learning poetry by heart is very beneficial - and understanding it and sharing that understanding with the child so it isn't merely rote learning is one reason I would never put my DC into a school where I wasn't reasonably familiar with the language or could provid support from someone who was.

Not speaking the language is a barrier, it would be silly to say it wasn't. If the OP wouldn't feel confident helping, won't make her DH do it and can't afford to pay for external input then it's going to make life difficult. There will be problems, not ones which can't be solved, but problems which need consideration in advance.

Lavenderhoney Sun 06-Jan-13 16:55:13

We talked again today, as dh is aware his work ( he could be away for weeks/ months) make him unreliable. Its an ongoing chat right now.
I enjoy helping the dc and looking for ways to encourage them and with the language barrier it will be difficult.
As an aside, I love poetry and dc already know a lot, as I quote poems and we discuss situations in literature relevant to them. I realise being at school in a different language wont stop that, but I dont want to overload them.

Lavenderhoney Sun 06-Jan-13 16:58:50

Just to say as well, a pre teen in tears over homework and me unable to help as I don't understand and won't know the grammar worrys me. Perhaps people will say that they should be able to do homework unaided but I think if they need help, I would like to be able to give it.

I have no plans to complete a child's homework for them, but help if needed.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Jan-13 17:20:24

IME, French school is designed in such a way that parental support is essential.

Lavenderhoney Fri 11-Jan-13 07:26:34

Bonsoir, would you advise me on what you would do in my situation? That would be helpful, ESP if you are in France!

Bonsoir Fri 11-Jan-13 07:57:11

I am a fervent supporter of/believer in bilingualism, where there are two languages in a family, and so I would always advise to go down that path in the primary years and aim to get your DC speaking/reading/writing to monolingual level by the end of Y6/CM2. In your position I think (given the information you have posted) that means putting them in a French school and then HE-ing (you or a tutor or a combination of both) for English, and getting either you DH to commit to helping with homework or employing some outside help.

TBH, I don't see many DCs at DD's school get to monolingual level in any language (even French) without home support. School alone doesn't seem to be enough.

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