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Everything posted by Rose

  1. Not really sure where to pose these questions .... For those of you who have become French residents, have you thought about what happens after you die ? Do you plan to be buried or cremated in France ? Will you want a gravestone that others can visit afterwards ? Do you care ? I realise that this might be an uncomfortable area for some people, and I'm sorry - it's not something that I want to think about right now. However I've been asked to contribute quite a lot of money to maintain a family grave in the UK which I've never visited, nor am likely to, and so now I'm wondering about the ethical questions related to this. In one way it would be easier to just pay up, but what happens later ? I'd be passing the burden of this debt to my children. If anyone feels like commenting I may expand on my thoughts - you may help me to develop them in fact. With thanks, Rose
  2. Odile - you wanted to hear from families who had experienced both worlds i.e. schooling in France then studies at UK universities. We're a British family who arrived in France 16 years ago when the children were 7, 4 and 9 months. They all enjoyed Primaire here, Collège was a pain (the adolescent years !) & Lycée was hard work but enriching - I felt they appreciated the sense of being considered as adults by their profs. My eldest did a Bac ES - only just scraped through because he didn't work at all, & I feel that you cannot get by here with last minute cramming & the fact that you have to do all those subjects ! He like the other 2 hated Maths, major problem - I was told by lots of people that Maths is the most important subject in France. He then went to the UK to do a BA in Politics - enjoyed it, loved Manchester & was easily able to cope with the work. In fact many of his fellow students were French. He thanked his Philosophy prof here for teaching him how to write a "proper essay"! (Ah the French & their set rules for writing a Commentaire, Dissertation or a Sujet d'invention !) 2 years later he's done lots of short term jobs both in the UK & here, just to earn money for his travels in the Far East, & was just about to start a Masters but at last minute decided it was not for him. So he is back at home for the moment - a real product of both countries but wishes to live in neither. I have no idea what he'll be doing in a year's time ...... My daughter did a Bac L & is now studying French & Film Studies in the UK. Again lots of her fellow students are French. She had a very Arty time at Lycee with lots of music & theatre, worked a bit harder than her brother & got a Mention Assez Bien which was just what she needed to get into her chosen Uni. She spent a year working in Paris as part of her year abroad, & with that experience she wants to work in Communications & Public Relations (in France I think) Now in her last year she's doing some quite useful modules in French such as translation. At school in France she was always considered as "fragile" academically - again "nul" at Maths & Sciences, but even with a Bac L she still had to do papers in those subjects & managed them reasonably well. Once in the UK, for the first time she felt herself to be more cultured than the average British kid she met, and was actually happy to have been forced to do all those subjects she didn't like at the time. I'm not implying that the UK is "easier" - far from it, but it has certainly given her confidence. In fact she tells me she's aiming for a First (I'll only believe that if it happens !) And finally my "baby" is in Terminale - one more Bac to go & then hopefully I shall be free of the French Education system ! He, unlike the other 2, is at a Franco-German Lycee because they have an bilingual Anglophone OIB programme which he has followed since Sixieme. Lots of his fellow students are from purely French families who have worked abroad in the UK or US mainly, and on return to France the parents wanted their kids, now fluent in English, to be able to continue studying English at a higher level. The Lycee is very strict - used to a very hardworking set of students, & my lad hates it - he's only sticking it because he loves the English Literature. They have been told it's the equivalent of English A-level. On the French side he's doing a Bac ES & once again unfortunately hates Maths, but it's a major part of the syllabus. But he knows that academically this will be the worst year he'll have to face (as he also won't be studying any longer in France) I know that several people on this Forum have said that French education is about parrot fashion learning & regurgitating the facts, but I feel that at this level, it's more difficult than that. There are strict rules for answering any question, & to go "Hors Sujet" means losing lots of marks. Whilst imagination has never counted for much here, and lots of French people I know deride that, the students are expected to come up with lots of ideas to back up their statements (just not too original ones however or we're into losing marks again !) A final point about financing furthur education. For our youngest, he has to face the higher fees in the UK - £3000 a year I believe, to be paid later (my other 2 were on the old system) so he is considering carefully whether he wants to go to the UK & incur that debt. To stay in France to study however, I have always understood costs a lot less, even for Prepa & then the Grand Ecoles which select on ability (the dreaded Concours). I have a British friend, married to a Frenchman & she's dreading that her youngest will want to go to the UK because she says they can't afford it. Her older ones have all studied here - Engineering School or Medicine & she says the cost is minimal. I think I've said everything I planned to say .... this has been our family's experience, & I certainly can't say that one system is better than another - but they are certainly very different ! Rose
  3. Rose


    Actually you sit at least 5 exams in Terminale Bac L, and the Philosophy exam has a much higher coefficient weighting than for the Bac S students Rose
  4. My daughter arrived aged 4 and was the first in our family to be able to chatter away in French, but some years later when she started at College, her French teacher told us that actually her vocabulary was non-existent - she was just a good actress! So she had private French lessons after that, and each year her teachers suggested that she redouble as they said she was "très fragile" academically - but in the end she got her Bac L with good marks. Oh, and she had hearing problems when young too, with 4 operations by the time she was 8 for grommets. So she did a few years with a French orthophoniste as well. My younger son was just a baby when we arrived, but never really heard much French until he started at Maternelle. In fact he didn't speak much in English either, except to say things like "no likey French". His behaviour was fine - he thought the toys in the classroom were very exciting, and was always pleased to go to school in the morning. But he never did a single thing that the teacher wanted - I know because she used to moan at me every day. In year 4 when he started CP I was waiting for him to learn to read (I'd tried myself to teach him to read in English but he wasn't interested) but the whole year went by and he couldn't read at all at the start of CE1. Luckily the next teacher was very organised, and assured me it often took 2 years to learn to read, and in fact things improved very rapidly after that. I had no other options though because there isn't an International School near us - so I just hoped that things would work out in the end, which they did !
  5. We live in Gif-sur-Yvette in 91, nearly at the end of RER B. 40 minutes to Chatelet. Lots of scientific establishments around, so quite a few foreigners, but not an Ex-Pat type area. 20 minutes away (on a bus route) in Buc (actually 78) there is free Anglophone schooling within the French state system.
  6. And I thought that all kids are supposed to go to their nearest school anyway - choice UK style doesn't come into it. That's what I liked when we came to France 15 years ago - no messing, straight into local schools. The only "mutations" allowed are for schools elsewhere with different options not available locally. Choice is available only for state vs private (where TU is correct - it's not the content that is different, but possibly lower class numbers and better discipline) Rose
  7. Last weekend I read in one go (couldn't put it down) Pillion Riders by Elisabeth Russell Taylor (novel set in Paris & Sologne)
  8. If you are from the EU you pay the same University fees in the UK as British students. Our kids are British but as they live in France, are classed as EU students. It's just non - EU students who pay the higher fees.
  9. Just wanted to say that we went out for our office Christmas lunch today - much to my surprise i discovered it was to that restaurant with the nice young overworked owner. The food was fabulous & the service was great & he now has a young girl working for him. I asked him afterwards if things were better & he seems very happy with the publicity he's had. Shall definitely go back there to eat again.
  10. Very interesting to read this topic as my daughter leaves this afternoon to start a 4 year course at Brookes (Film Studies & languages) I believe there are lots of french students there. She went to an open day in April & one of the lecturers told her about the drinking culture. I think she's worried that everyone will be talking about TV programmes that she hasn't seen ! (That's what happened to her brother in Manchester 2 years ago) Rose
  11. I live in Ile de france, & our town had a very high "oui" We were taken out to lunch today by a work colleague of my husband who wanted to know what we thought of "their" referendum. Before we could really reply he got very agitated, said he was "furieux" with the whole thing, & that there should be a second vote immediately. Because the French always have a second round in their Presidential elections, and everyone knows they always vote against the government first time round....... As he said the first vote is with the "coeur" & the second with the "tete"
  12. Just wondered if any of you are in the same boat with kids about to sit the bac. Are you a bag of nerves while your enfant is just being very cool ? This is "my" second bac so at least I know that in a few weeks it will all be over, but the last time round we had "rattrapage" which was very nervewracking so I hope we'll avoid that this time. It's just that if you mess up in one subject you run the risk of failing the overall show - that's what panics me ! She had her first oral yesterday & thought it went well, and she has some positive points in Sport so that's a start. Anyway good luck to all of you out there... Rose
  13. My youngest son also learned with Mika (about 8 years ago) & disliked it. At the end of CP he couldn't read at all, despite having had help from an orthophoniste all that time. She also said it was a useless method & was really old. The CP teacher wasn't helpful - she just said he never listened so that was that. At the start of CE1 I spoke to his new teacher who was sympathetic & promised that he'd be reading in a few weeks, and he was! Not only that by the next year he was reading fluently in English without being taught the English sounds. Spelling was another matter though & that didn't come till 6eme. Now at 13 his hobby is reviewing online computer games for the manufacturers, & his typing speed is fantastic. He also is on the writing staff for the new College newspaper, so they get there in the end! Rose
  14. This morning the CM2 teacher at our local primary school retired. As a surprise many of his old pupils crowded into his classroom after the morning break instead of his usual class. He was moved to tears to see all these old faces. He spoke movingly about how great his life had been, to have his family & all his teaching career at that school. He arrived in 1969 having always wanted to be a teacher (& with a twinkle in his eye said he was fresh from the "evenements de soixante-huit")! Several of his class of 1972 were able to be there. My son (19) had 5 of his year there too. I mention this because having read the recent discussions in the Culture section on Original Thought, & in fact many references to the rote learning practised in French schools, well M. Krop certainly did not fall into that category! Our town (& all my kids) were blessed to be influenced by such a man. At one rentree parents meeting, in answer to why he didn't set much homework, he said that 10 year olds were at the most inquisitive time of their lives & he wanted them to spend their free time discovering things that he had suggested they try - his goal was to encourage an "esprit d'ouverture sur le monde". He'd challenge the other teachers too, if they didn't see things his way. Every Friday afternoon he'd take the class on a 10km hike in all weathers, which would encompass nature, geography, history & physical exercise in one go. We always had to ensure the kids wore their oldest clothes because they'd come back filthy ! But he taught French grammar & Maths well too, & marked hard to prepare them for the difficulties of college in advance. My kids regularly got zeros in dictees but he didn't mind - he said that things would improve later (which they did). When he tried to encourage my daughter at Maths (not her favourite subject) he said simply "il faut oser". Every year he'd take the class to the South of England for 2 weeks, so my kids had the joys of visiting Hastings, Brighton, the Tower of London, Greenwich, Big Ben & Sainsbury's with him. Afterwards there'd always be an evening for parents to show their class work done there, & a photomontage. His favourite photos were always of London buses, red postboxes, policemen, semidetached houses and kids in school uniform (that amused him the most!!) He was very excited the first year they were able to travel through the tunnel. His style reminded me very much of the Gerard Klein character in L'Instit - not sure if it's still on French TV but it was a programme we always liked watching. So I wish him a long & happy retirement, & hope that there are others like him out there, & that your kids will benefit from someone like him at some point in their school life. Rose
  15. Does anyone have any experience of their kids who've spent all or most of their life in the French system, and then gone on to Uni in UK ? My eldest son got his Bac ES in the summer (having been in France since age of 7). He'd applied through UCAS to do History, but the French Bac results they asked for were really high (14 to 15 !!) So he enrolled at the local Fac as insurance, but found a place in UK through clearing to do European Politics. He seems happy enough, but the academic style is so very different - only 9 hours a week of lectures / seminars and a massive reading list. Light years away from the weekly controles and directional style of the Lycee. Can't wait to see him at Christmas to find out what he really thinks of it, and also to see how he interacts again with his French mates (all but 1 of whom have stayed in this area mainly at Prepas - the 1 who did go away has gone to Tibet.... and that's another question - the French don't do Gap years do they?)
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