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Emma

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  1. Hi Catherine

    Having read the replies you've had so far, you're probably not feeling too positive about moving now!  However, our story is that we moved our 4 and 6 year old girls here a year ago, and they started school a week after our arrival.  They were hugely welcomed by the entire school, and although the first few weeks were a bit strange for them, they never got upset about going or the fact that they had no idea what anyone was saying to them.  After the eight week summer holiday, they fitted back in straight away, and have gradually improved with their French since then.  We're not the best example of speaking French at home with them, but even so, they certainly have enough language skills to manage their days.

    No special allowances have been made for them, in terms of language, as the teachers don't speak any/much English.  My six year old benefited from being able to read and write already, (they don't learn these skills until they are six here), and so could concentrate on learning vocab instead. She occasionally has been given extra work, more to keep her occupied whilst the others catch up.  She has also been placed in the year above for Maths, to make sure she doesn't get bored repeating work she's already done in the UK.

    Your four year old will be in a mainly play environment with simple sticking and pasting exercises, and work on the alphabet and numbers, so it's a comfortable place to be while learning another language.

    Their school is rural - 100 pupils spread over four classes, with two school years in each class. Before we arrived, I was concerned this might be a bit odd, but in fact, seems to work really well, especially for encouraging the children to be able to work alone, while the teacher splits his time between the two years.  The children all play across the year groups at playtime (three per day), and the school has a far warmer family feel to their old school in England (which was still a great school).

    The teaching does seem more traditional, with having to learn poetry by heart, and getting the handwriting absolutely perfect, and there does seem to be a 'correct' way of doing things, rather than letting children arrive at an answer using their own methods, but with children this age, I don't think they will realise that it's too much different from what they're used to in England!

    They don't have access to sailing etc, here, but still do great school trips and have shows etc at the end of term.  My six year old has just come back from a three night classe de mer, where she had a packed programme and a great time. (Even though it was her first time away from us, and she had solid French for four days!)

    I've heard of lots of children not settling and being moved to another school etc (which probably doesn't help that unsettled feeling), but I hope you have luck as we did in finding the right school first time.  If possible, be really sure of the local area you want to move to, so even if you are renting/buying or moving, you can do so without them having to change school again.

  2. Does anyone have any experience of doing further education themselves in France?  I have a history degree and a working background in PR, but am looking to retrain in something new - probably in the healthcare sector, and am wondering how to go about finding out how to get on a course/find a course for mature students.

    Is there a careers advice service/useful websites that anyone knows of?  Any info/stories of your own experiences would be appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Emma

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