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English for English children in France


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I really do envy those of you parents who are both bi-lingual and are able to bring up your children bi-lingually. In my case, as a French speaker in the UK with a husband who did not speak French - I had to make a choice. Having chosen and decided to live in UK I felt English had to have priority - and disagreed with other French women in the same situation who brought up their children speaking French only in the UK. 20 years later I still feel the same. Of course my English wasn't perfect and I did have a slighlty non standard accent, but my girls never picked up either - and both became bilingual later- although both have an English accent in French.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Our grandchildren arrived in France April 2007 aged almost 6 and 3 and a half. Both went into Maternelle for the last couple of months of the school year, neither knowing French.

Our grandaughter started in CP in the September with extra help to bring her up to the level of her classmates and she has since retaken CP. This hasn't fazed her at all and she comes into her own when the teacher teaches English as she asks our grandaughter if she is correct in pronounciation  etc. So she helps her friends and teacher and they help her. Our grandson is now in Grand Section and goes to CP in September he is quite derogatory about his teacher who he says cannot speak English cake coming out as cak! He told her it was wrong and the teacher quickly passed to the next word!

Everything they watch, DVDs and television is in French. Our grandaughter prefers to read in French although she has expressed an interest in learning to read and write in English but as their lives are going to be in France both children have to get to a good standard of French to progress through the education system. They speak excellent French now and speak to each other in French too.

Their mother has a French fiancé who speaks to them and their mother in French and she alternates between French and English with them. My husband and I speak English to the children and I read to them in English while they follow the words. My other daughter a teacher in England seems very keen for the children to be reading and writing English and sends lots of workbooks for them. Our concern is that they need to keep up with their peer groups and they are still learning in the French education system. Also we don't want to confuse them any more than possible. They go between both languages very easily and have no accent in either language so they are taken as French by French people and English by English people.

Other people we know who have put their children through the French school system find the children cope very well with language. One couple now have two sons at Lycée and another due to start in September; all three speak French together but speak, read and write  English with no problems. Another lady who is married to a French man, so the children are half English half French, has found her children have found their own happy medium. A friend who is German speaks German to her sons, the English father speaks English and the children spend most of the day in the company of French people. Both children prefer to read, write and speak French. As the mother says their German and English will never be to the standard that it would be if brought up in Germany or the UK but they have that head start on other children. At the moment, like our grandchildren, they cannot see the advantage of being bi lingual or tri lingual that hopefully will come later. What they do like is speaking in French when non French speakers are around!

Wednesdays my grandaughter goes horse riding and is well versed in equestrian things in French and my grandson plays football again good for integration. Saturdays our grandaughter horse rides or we take them to places where they learn about arts, history, nature etc exposing them to things not always taught at school. They get to use the home computer and can find their way round it better than me.

My grandchildren will live in France and I cannot see them returning to the UK except for holidays.

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I will add that last Thursday being a bank holiday we went to Alésia, near us, which is the site of the last battle between Caesar and Vercingetorix.

There were artisans in bronze, pottery, bone and horn carving, salt drying and a forgeron. Our grandson had been learning about this at Maternelle so he was going to be our tour guide. He told us all about it in English and asked numerous questions of the artisans and when an artisan asked a question he happily responded.

Obviously what he had been taught went in and he could relate it back with out problems from French to English.
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