French Schools With English Speaking Support

19 Replies

Hi I am looking to move to France next year with my family. We have two children, 12 and 15, and I would like any recommendations for specific state schools who offer English speaking support. The area does not matter as we will be guided by the where the school is situated.Many thanks.Andy Cleaver

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christianb 1402907517

Hi Andy


As someone who is considering coming to France, to a state school, with a 14 year old daughter, I would like to know how you got on in the end, with your sons?

Where did you settle? Did you find that the schools has sufficient support for your children, and how have they adjusted.


it is such a daunting prospect for a parent - the idea of your child going to a school where her language is not spoken - and I need some reassurance that all will be ok.


your response would be appreciated

AuntyJanJan 1402914807

We arrived with our 12 and a half year old and she went to college where she has had little or no support mainly because the teacher who taught English and was our main contact went off with a bad back and has been really poorly so not in school at all.  (She still translates some lessons for our daughter though which is really nice of her). 

Our daughter is still in the "I don't want to be here so I am not going to try too hard and one day you will realise this is a bad idea and go home" phase!  So getting her to try and mix or make friends is really difficult.  She is also very shy and affraid to open her mouth in case she gets the word wrong however she is picking up alot and is slowly settling in.  We had thought about moving her to another school but that would just be uprooting her again.  It is a very hard decision and I am still not convinced it is the right one but we shall see.

Good luck and I hope it all works out for you


GUSTOPH 1402917304

Hi    Unfortunately your eldest child could find the french school system quite challenging -   when we arrived our boys were 5 and 10 -    the youngest is now 16 and is in Lycée -  he is at a professional lycée learning electrics - a 3 year course called a Bac Pro.    At 15 your child will arrive at senior school (collège)  just as they sit their final exams - it is taken a year earlier than the uk exams.   Depending on your child's birthday they could go straight to lycée -  the choice then is to go to an academic school - following more of an A level course or a professional school learning a trade - like my son.   I think the language could be quite a struggle -  my son is the only English child in his school and the lycée is large in Castelnaudary.    These tend to be in the cities and are much larger than senior schools.   My son has to board Monday to Friday  .  My eldest son also went to a professional lycée but in Lavelanet -   he also boarded Mon to Friday and was the only english child in the school for his first year and then one other english child enrolled.   Dont be down hearted but also dont listen to proud parents who say their children were fluent within 6 months -   its just not possible -   I would say they can start to get by within a year but not to expect miracles for up to 3 years -  especially with school work   Good luck xxx

Julia 1402918253

There is an intergration system in place for forgeign children joining French state schools.  When we arrive with our 2 (13 and 14) they had to attend a kind of welcome meeting in Perpignan - we were living near Prades.  They were examined in their own language, the meeting took place in French but each family was allocated a transalator to explain what was beig said.  Its a good system.  Once you have enrolled you then have the choice to send your child to your local school ( college or Lycee) and receive FLE (french help for foreigners°) or send our child to the school in Perpignan for 3 months intensive French tutoring.  We went  for the local school option.  It was ok - not great The school was actually run by a horrbile head who was anti any foreign children so we had to battle to get them in and then battle for the help.  We have sinced moved and they still get the FLE and the system is good.  Hope this helps - feel free to ask me any questions.

christianb 1402923749

thanks so much for your reply. I wish i could have live in france earlier, for her sake, but the opportunity has just arisen, and i think we all have a romantic attachment to the idea of living in France.

christianb 1402924091

thanks so much Julia. We will live in Cruzy and my daughter will go to Quarante, because like you I have also gone for the local school option. We are from South Africa. My daughter and I speak a little French, but not that much.


I suppose I just really struggle with the idea of how she will integrate and get cold sweats when i imagine her first day in a wholly french environment.


I also wonder about how she will be received as a black girl from South Africa. she went to an international school here, but as I will be studying in France I can't afford anything other than a public school, and it sounds to me that there is general consensus that that might be the best way to integrate, although with major growing pains at first.

christianb 1402924255

thank you Gustaph for your kind and comprehensive reply. my daughter did the evaluation test in April and will be placed in the quarantieme grade in September because her French is still pretty minimal. She will go to the local college in  quarante

GUSTOPH 1402939065

Hi -  its better for your daughter to start with collège rather than lycée -   there tend to be more english children at the senior schools -  I honestly dont know where they all disappear to for lycée -  maybe everyone just goes in different directions.  Ive not personally heard of the FLE system so havent experienced it.  My son only went to the local primary school for one term and then moved up to collège.  He was given extra french language lesons - usually when the french children were learning english.  Some of the teahers were alot more helpful than others -  but that can happen anywhere.  I have found generally girls pick up the language quicker than boys.   I wouldnt stress too much over them settling in -   they will probably be muddling through while you are still struggling to talk to neighbours.   By the way -  have a very large bottle of vino waiting for you after your first parents evening -   that is an experience no one can prepare you for!!   Good luck xxxx

christianb 1402942347

You are very sweet. thanks, feeling a lot better now. But one question remains, what has made all the uphill battles worth it? Is it really so fantastic in France once the romanticism fades, and reality sets in  and why?

GUSTOPH 1402945296

Hi    Why not ?????    xxxxxx    I always say - if it doesnt work then just move on xxxxx   I could happily live on the Orkney Islands like my sister but here the weather is better and the wine is cheaper -   life is for living and experiencing.    My two boys have totally different plans for the future -  one wants to move countries but hasnt decided where and the youngest see his future in France -   however we fleeting thought of trying Canada last year and they were both up for it.   Dont worry just try it   Good luck  xxx  you can PM me on -  mind you - being a scouser I tend to just go with the flow xxxx

GUSTOPH 1402945927

Just a thought -  my hubby is a HGV driver -  he came home after a long night shift driving from Liverpool to London  and said -   some drivers coming over from France said they have shorter hours and a better life -   we didnt think about it -  just came - saw -  and stayed.   It really doesnt pay to dwell too much -   you just see too many obsticals -   we thought either we try it now and take the boys with us  or leave it until retirement and wait until they have chosen their lives -   if nothing else they are now bilingual and have experienced living here.   This area doesnt suite us now -  we are too rural and want to move from the mountains to the vineyards of the Razes by Limoux -  so hopefully we will be off on another experience    Dont worry xxxx  Carol xx

andy24-496867 1403002642



We actually never came to France with our children.

To be honest we thought it unfari on them because they would have had a lot of difficulty.

But we admire anyone who has the courage to go for it.

Wish we had moved when they were 5/6/7 years old though.

I think that what we will be doing is moving when they have finished their GCSE's and sending them to a French 6th form college to enable them get a more rounded education.


AuntyJanJan 1403014364

Quarante College and primary have a few English speakers so do not worry.  I do not think being balck will be an issue or being South African, but I cannot make any promises.  My daughter (white & British) has had some racism to deal with but nothing terrible and she has managed!

christianb 1403014573

thanks Jan


this is such a difficult decision and it is so helpful to get your responses. I am a single parent and I find it quite overwhelming especially since she is perfectly happy at her present school

christianb 1403201797

to andy


sorry for the late reply. But thanks for your reply. I am sure that your decision not to come was selfless and took great courage too.

christianb 1403201871

thanks for your reply. I think your decision was incredibly selfless and took great courage too. wishing you all the best.

AuntyJanJan 1403204231

We have just had her results for this year and she is doing fine even without the FLE help.  She past her DELF which is the exam all students do who have French as a foreign language.  She got 78.5% which is brilliant in our eyes.  And she does not have to redouble cinquieme so she will be in quatrieme next year so she is happy and so are we.   Some of her French pals have to redouble cinquieme.  I say this to show even without help kids manage and with help our friends children have done even better.  Our daughter loved her old school and still keeps in touch with everyone on skype or facebook and they come for holidays so she manages.  Not saying given half the chance she would not fly back tomorrow but she is not crying all the time like she was at first!  I guess you have to be grateful for small mercies.


christianb 1403205193

Wow Jan! that's excellent. I told my daughter to read your comment to show that it can be done!And there is hope !

It is now official, she has been registered in Quarante today. I hope that we will be able to meet once we are out there ( we are flying around 19 august).


You have no idea how helpful and reassuring your advice is. Please connect with me on facebook. lyndsay jasmine arnott


our congratulations to your daughter for a wonderful and inspirational job done.


lyndsay and naomi

graceinfrance-965272 1403615965

HI-- I AM ALSO COMING TO Aude,Nebias village on october 2014,my children will be 8,nearly 9,my daughter,and  son--12,-september born,so oldest in class in uk school,zosia is jan born so in middle of age range,they have been doing junior school french-alex for 3 years--once a week,and zosia also once a week but she has only just started the french as  is year 3,

my daughter will go to the local junior school--it has 4 school years   in 2 classes,as it s  a village school,and alex should by rights go to  senior  school,however the junior school teacher said she would accept him into the junior school,  there are x2 local senior schools,one bigger ,one smaller,  and i do not know where to put him,he is average in uk ie level 4,the uk norm for year 6,zosia is also on  par==level 3c for her age=the correct level,

should i put alexander into the firs class senior school? if so--after a term  or at once? or leave to junior school till july ie one school year? what do others think

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