English Speaking Children in French School. Help !

8 Replies

As we have moved to VENCE and our three boys are in school and speak no FRENCH the school have suggested we move them to a different school who they say will teach them French quicker.As they have already made friends we would prefer not to move them and we would appreciate any suggestions as to how we should deal with this problem.Kind RegardsAnthony Brophy

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legend_in_my_lunchtime-182603 1063293854

The only reason that I can imagine behind what might seem an absurd suggestion is that the current school did not receive budget this year for a teacher of FLE (Français Langue Etrangère).  These are extra posts filled by teachers specialised in teaching french to children who have another language as their mother tongue.  Some schools serve areas that are more heavily populated by immigrants and the Académie de Nice focuses their limited FLE budget on these areas.

FLE tends to run in slack timetable periods (lunchtimes, after school, etc.)

That having been said, I don't know that it is so easy to "move" your kids to an FLE-equipped school.  You'd need a derogation from the Mairie concerned.  Disturbing the rhythm and friendships that the children have already made may outweigh the benefits of a couple of hours per week of FLE.

Nona-185684 1063311316

How long have you been here? How old are the kids? How were they getting on with developing English prior to moving? How are they coping with a french speaking environment?


szozu 1063317613

It really depends on the age of the children, the younger they are, the more quickly they can learn with no help at all! I was thrown into an English-speaking school in first grade and I didn't have much trouble. I don't remember the process too well, but it went from being in a sort of fog and learning to read words I didn't always understand, to going to the library the following summer and bringing home armfuls of books!

Friendships are very important and assuming that the friends are French, the children will learn from them very quickly. You might be able to manage with a tutor as an alternative solution.


Ghene 1063538531

My friends children aged 13 and 6, both do not speak french and speaks only a little english. They were enrolled to ST Philippe in Juan les Pins and in 6 months time their progress in the language shows.Now they are on their second year, and they are speaking it well. Children learn very easily, trust them, Also show them that you try to learn the language and if you have friends who fluently speak french then let them speak converse in french to practice.


Sue-188228 1063620376

You don't say how old the boys are but my little boy attended a maternelle from the age of 3 (previously no French) and he managed a whole year without uttering a word except in English.  The problem was that his teacher spoke a little English and he cottoned on to that so he thought why bother.  Anyway we have moved during the summer holidays and he now attends a different school.  Within two days he was beginning to use the language and has now started to ask us what things are called in French so we know he is beginning to understand that for him there are two different words for each thing.  I would point out that at no time has he shown any signs of stress at not being able to communicate but I admit that until now I have been very worried that he may be the only child ever known who found it impossible to learn another language.  We took advice from a linguistics expert who said that the general understanding that small children soak up language like a sponge is not strictly true.  In fact it is only up until their second year that children pick up the "music" of a language, after that they are actually having to learn it in exactly the same way that we do.  The only difference is that their brains are faster than ours because they get more exercise!!  Have you asked your boys what they would prefer to do - are they happy where they are.  If they are and they are motivated to learn French just out of a desire to communicate then they are probably best left at the current school.  Hopefully all our kids will thank us for this eventually!!!!

Good Luck,


Nona-185684 1063642937

Language development in both first and second languages is dependent on many different things. For a balanced view have a look at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Rosenberg-Bilingual.html for an explanation of simultaneous and sequential bilingualism, advice on good practice re. maintaining and/or developing both languages, expectations, possible problems.

I am not an expert but I am supposed to know about these issues. If you want to talk about bilingual or other developmental language issues feel free to email and I'll be happy to reply.

harpo-187362 1063663059


just a couple of words from my experience with our kids.

Assuming you intend to remain in France for some time then insist they stay in the French school system.  If you intend leaving in a year or two then consider the international schools.

Depending upon the age of the kids get them into sports/leisure activities out of school hours.  Kids learn the language far quicker while kicking a football than in class.

Stick with it - it'll be such an advantage in later years for them even if it means a hard year or two now.


anthonyb-187880 1063701823

We would like to thank everyone who replied to this topic.We are happy to leave our three boys in their French school and hopefully they will look back in time to come and thank us. Again Thank You.

Kind Regards
Anthony Brophy

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