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France - bilingual DC and English lessons at college

(24 Posts)
clearsommespace Mon 10-Jun-13 20:37:29

What do your bilingual DC do during English lessons at standard (non-bilingual) collège? Do they just get a break/bored or do the teachers get them to do something special?

Our eldest starts in September and as far as I am aware will be the only mother tongue English child at the school until sibling starts in a couple of years. In primary our DC are teacher's helpers during English lessons but they only do it a couple of times a week. In collège it'll either be 3 or 4 hours a week.

I'll be seeing the deputy head to discuss next week and am keen to know how this is approached in other schools. I'd be willing to set DC tasks to do during this time and mark them myself if the school didn't have a problem with it.

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 21:17:03

Gets told to be quiet and gets marked down for things which are in fact correct in English and the teacher thinks aren't. Didn't even get 20 out of 20 for oral, apparently mispronounced something. I could only laugh, it was better than crying.

PixelAteMyFace Mon 10-Jun-13 23:02:10

Ha, marchmad, same here - DS2 once got 11 out of 20 for oral, while the English teacher`s DD (in her mother`s class confused)who spoke English with a furrin accent you could cut with a knife -like her DM the teacher- got 19. Wanted to go and talk to teacher but DS2 said she`d take it out on him if I did.

DS1 once had a teacher who used to check with him if she wasn`t sure about pronunciation, and used to get him to read texts so that the rest of the class could hear a proper English accent.

The other English teachers he had over the years seemed resentful of having a bilingual pupil, and one even told DS1 that he had a funny accent!

Another teacher asked DS1 what the other word for a pharmacy was, and when he answered "chemist`s" she told him "no, the word is chemister" [shocked]

I always impressed upon my DCs that they should never laugh at their teachers` mistakes, or make disparaging remarks about them to their friends.

clearsommespace Tue 11-Jun-13 04:18:23

Oh dear sad

I hadn't thought of saying anything until DC started college but a friend who is a teacher trainer and another friend who is an English teacher at a different college both told me I should speak to the deputy head now as the classes won't have been made up yet. They said letting school know the situation now could ensure DC is put with a teacher who'll put him to advantage.

frenchfancy Tue 11-Jun-13 06:30:27

We've had a mixed bag. Some will allow DD to sit quietly and read an English book. Others won't allow it an insist on their attention. You might get a good teacher in 6eme but you are unlikely to keep them for all 4years.

TBH I think it worries the parents much more than the kids. They just want to be the same as everyone else so they just put their head down and zone out. I suppose it doesn't hurt them to be bored occasionally especially when there is no screen to turn to.

I felt the same as you 4 years ago, now DD1 has only 2 weeks left in college. sad It has gone like a flash.

luxemburgerli Tue 11-Jun-13 07:01:03

I would try to organise that they can read independently or something in the time. I had this experience when I was at school, and it was very frustrating being marked down in exams, told I was saying things wrong, etc. Couldn't even laugh about it with the other students, because they assumed the teacher was right!!

peppersquint Tue 11-Jun-13 07:59:31

When DD started 6eme she was allowed to drop English as the LV1 and do Spanish instead (normally they start Spanish or German as LV2 in 4eme) This meant that she was learning a new language and not bored.
The only drawback was timetabling this and that she was with older students - however it stop her getting bored and was great preparation for the brevet. The other drawback from an academic viewpoint is that LV2 is only for two years (4eme and 3eme) - which means that she had "done" spanish by 4eme and although they tried to timetable LV2 German for 4eme and 3eme it wasn't possible.
Maybe this is something you could suggest. Alternatively you can ask college to do some extra English work for her English classes (my DD did Spanish but still sat in on some English lessons). She was given a GCSE reading list and set reading/writing exercises which were corrected either by teacher (or me at request of the teacher). If you look online there are lots of resources to print off which you can pass to teh teachers.
In our experience the English teachers were happy to stretch those whose maternal language was English and they were also happy for the student to act as a "classroom assistant" during the English lessons. In my DD's experience the other students appreciated her "knowledge" and were happy to ask for help - but I guess it depends on the college and/or teachers
Good luck

clearsommespace Tue 11-Jun-13 08:07:03

That's more encouraging Peppersquint. I'd be quite happy with DCs being able to use this time to read novels in English and perhaps get them to write book reviews which I'd be happy to correct for homework rather than do written exercises that they don't need to do.

When I asked my child what they thought they should be doing in English classes the answer was ' getting to rest grin and learning how to spell words which are difficult in English'.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 11-Jun-13 08:08:30

I'm in Italy and my experience is the same as marchmad's.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 11-Jun-13 08:11:43

I would be hesitant about rocking the boat too much, see how the land lies first.

I'm quite happy in all honesty that dd has one subject in which, at the age of 9, she simply coasts. In the early years of school she needed to learn how to spell English words so that was OK, she was learning spelling at the same time as the others were learning speaking.

Later on, once she gets to high school, it's mainly literature anyway, so won't be easy at all. She will have superior language skills but her analytical skills will be no different from the other kids.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 11-Jun-13 08:13:28

(to marchmad and pixel- dd was told she would be given 2 out of 10 for her oral English because she "speaks too quickly and the others don't understand her" (no shit Sherlock) ) grin <<<<that's my fixed grin for when I meet her.

frozentree Tue 11-Jun-13 08:33:20

My eldest in sixieme helps out the English teacher (who's actually English which I'm sure helps) and is allowed to do some creative writing or reading in English if she has finished everything. We asked the teacher if this was possible at the start of the year, and she was very encouraging as long as DD was still actively participating in class, as this is important if she wants to get into the European section in 4eme.

clearsommespace Tue 11-Jun-13 09:05:49

I'm not intending to rock the boat. I wasn't going to say anything but my friends who work for Education Nationale have advised me to. In particular the English teacher who says that she would want to know in advance if she was going to have a bilingual in her class for her own sake just as much as for the child's rather than having it sprung upon her at the rentrée. I can see her point.

PixelAteMyFace Tue 11-Jun-13 16:19:56

Yes, I think it best if the teacher is informed in advance about having a bilingual in her class who might speak English better than her.

My DCs were often asked about correct pronunciation by classmates who noticed that teachers and DCs didn`t sound quite the same, but not during lessons, of course!

TheBirds grin at teacher and sad for DD

pinkhousesarebest Wed 12-Jun-13 08:20:50

My ds starts in September and is going to do German instead of English, (he has done three years of German). It is not ideal either, as although he reads the same books as his cousins at home, he doesn't write that much in English.

unobtanium Wed 12-Jun-13 14:46:07

Yes, this is fun reading and reminds me of some howlers we've had: the tag question that goes "amn't I?" (ds made the mistake of saying "aren't I?", and was required to repeat "amn't I" in front of the whole class...), also "Every morning I put on my jogging and my baskets and do some footing" instead of tracksuit, trainers/gym shoes and do some jogging of course. Teacher was most defensive about these (another english parent took her up on them, and she refused to listen to her).

It will really be a qn of negotiating with the teacher, and hoping you get a good one...

jenpetronus Sun 16-Jun-13 14:42:33

I'm in the same position as you too OP with DS1 starting in 6ieme this September.
At the college open day I spoke with the head of English and explained that DS1 was following KS English (in his own time) and asked how she thought he could best spend his time during the English lessons (helping classmates/reading aloud/working quietly on his own stuff/doing another language etc) She said there was no precedent - he will be their 1st English parented pupil, and they would play it by ear and see how things work out.
tbh I'm fine with that flexible approach - I don't yet know how he'll cope with the work in 6ieme yet, so don't want to overburden him with extra English as well if he can't cope.
I'd just have a quick chat with his teacher to be

CarpeVinum Sun 16-Jun-13 14:49:07

Gets told to be quiet and gets marked down for things which are in fact correct in English and the teacher thinks aren't. Didn't even get 20 out of 20 for oral, apparently mispronounced something. I could only laugh, it was better than crying.


Except mine was in an Italian state school.

LadyInDisguise Sun 16-Jun-13 14:59:21

I would very seriously look at him taking another language than English at school.

I know several english teachers in France, incl my cousin who has lived 10 years in the UK, worked here before becoming a teacher in France. She has been told off too for not using the right words, not pronouncing things right etc... by people who have never spend more that 10 days in a row in the UK (But they are RIGHT you know because they are the inspectors...)

Taking a long term view, they will still be able to have english when they do their 'baccalaureat' and will learn much more with you/from private tuition.

aliciaflorrick Sun 16-Jun-13 15:01:02

I've worked as an English language assistant in a college and in 6ieme I had two bi-lingual English students sent to me for soutien once a week, because whilst their spoken English was great they had great problems with reading and writing.

My own DCs are still in primaire and work as teacher's helpers in English lessons. DC2 also gives his own private lessons on a Thursday lunchtime to a little group of his classmates, he prepares evaluations and everything for them! That little group of kids are doing really well, while all the other children learning English are still on food and colours, he's got his friends asking and answering questions.

I am a little worried about the college my DCs will be feeding into, because I do know of English speaking children who have been marked down in English tests for something that is correct or a deemed mispronunciation by the teacher.

clearsommespace Mon 17-Jun-13 08:21:07

Lady, he can't not take English because all the 6eme take English however some of them also take German (those who did German in primary + a few extra). So we've applied for him to take German because he hasn't yet had the experience of learning a foreign language. Spaces are limited in German and if he isn't chosen then he won't be learning another language until 4eme.

Jenpet, can you expand on your DC following 'KS English in his own time' please.

Alicia, that's very enterprising and cute!

jenpetronus Mon 17-Jun-13 21:30:05

Sorry clearsomme I meant DS1 has been working through the Key Stage English workbooks for years - at home, with a tutor and in his CM2 English lessons (he already knows his colours wink)

clearsommespace Tue 18-Jun-13 06:17:54

Thanks, I've had a quick research of those online and it's just the sort of thing I'd like DCs to be doing in their English lessons at college or instead of English homework.

Will head to a book shop when we visit the UK in the summer. Is there any brand you'd recommend more than another?

I went for my appointment yesterday and was told that I have to wait until the class teacher has been allocated and take it up with him/her but they'd put a note on the file so that the teacher was aware.

jenpetronus Tue 18-Jun-13 07:10:15

No, we've tried a few, there isn't much to chose between them imo - Amazon do them reasonably too.

I've just signed up for the assessment and first term with Blackhen - they offer the IGCSE in Eng lang & lit, so thinking way ahead, that would stand him well if we apply to an International Lycee...

Logical response and not a definite no from the college as some have had - they may be helpful yet!

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