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How quickly should he be picking up the language? Stay at a large school or change to a village school?


markandsacha
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Our son started in the petit maternelle in August, and we were wondering how quickly he should be picking up the language.  We have a word book that comes home every night with 3 or 4 words - mainly words that aren't really in any 3 yr olds vocablry anyway. He knows a few basic words but we thought he would be saying more, and he has started to refer to her as his english teacher(certain english words are now said with an accent)  Has anyone had the same experience?  Does anyone think it would be a good idea to move him to the local village school, where they have mixed ages in one class?

Any help or suggestions would be gratefully received.

Mark and Sacha 

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Hi

In our experience our 3 year old took about 5/6 months to say any french words but when he did he came out with whole sentences.  I have discussed this with teachers since and they say that it si quite normal for a child at this age of development to just soak up the language, not really saying anything in the new language until they feel confident enough to converse freely.  His teacher at that time spoke no english at all so everything said to him was in french.  He went to a fairly large town school and I'm not sure that the size of class or mix of ages will have a lot of bearing on the situation and to move him if he's made some firends would be a bit of a shame.

Totally my own opinion but I think you should let him take up the language as comes naturally to him and eventually it will click.  We are all different and the ability to learn a language can vary hugely.  In your case it is probably not helped by the teacher speaking english although she will be doing this to be kind I'm sure.  Perhaps ask her to only speak french to him from now own but overall I would relax about it and let him learn at his own pace.

Panda 

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There is an assylum seekers' centre just next to the maternelle my kids go/went to. The teachers say for the 3/4 year olds that if they arrive in September, they will be understanding  by Christmas, speaking by Easter and indistinguishable from the French kids by summer. I think that's a bit optimistic, but not far off.

This being said, my first child (born in France, French father, French childminder) was barely forming sentences at 3. His slow language development had nothing to do with being French, English or whatever. It was just him.

I think as Panda said, if he does't seem to be suffering from not being bale to communate, they I would just leave him to get there in his own time. It might be an idea to talk to the teacher about her using more French (she is probably so proud of speaking English)

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Hi

My son started in PS at our local Maternelle in Jan 2006 a week before his 3rd birthday, 4 terms later and he now understands all that is said to him, he is happy, gets on well with the other 25 children in Maternelle, is popular with the teachers and the older children in Primaire, but until a month or so back never spoke a word of French. He now joins in all the singing, counts to 20 and has two/three word phrases for communications.

I was a bit worried when I first realised he was not going to communicate as fast as you are led to believe they will, but when I saw how happy he was and that he seemed to fit in well dispite his lack of speech I gave up worrying. I have since heard of a number of children who take their time at this age.

In my opinion as long as your son is happy it is probably best to let things be and let him get along at his own pace I'm sure that all will be well by the time he start GS/CP when it will be more critical.

Regards

Kay

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Hello,

I think changing schools is unlikely to affect the way your son learns - he will learn at his own pace whether there are 10 or 50 children in his class. Also, although you may feel as if the teacher speaking english to him is holding him back, it will probably just make him feel more accepted initially and do no harm in the long run. He will learn most of his french (whether you like it or not!) from the other kids and if you speak english with him (I am presuming you do) then it's unlikely he will keep the french accent in this language.

Our son started in a local village school at 2 yrs old (in a class with 2-4 yr olds) and said very little for a long time. We told him how to say 'I don't understand' in french and said he should say this when he really didn't understand what the teacher wanted as she was at the end of her tether with him. Unfortunately he just repeated it over and over whether he understood or not, because I think he felt he really didn't need to learn french as we spoke english to him at home and it was much easier...!

Now he is 4.5 and doing fine - he suddenly started coming out with whole, quite complicated phrases, in french and asking us how to say things too. Once he developed a group of friends he really wanted to communicate with, he made the effort.

He now chatters away (not fluently, but not badly either) in the local french accent and seems less daunted by it all. My husband (scottish) is somewaht miffed that our boy speaks 'too posh' with my english accent and not with his - guess that shows who does the most talking in our house!

Give him a bit of time - it's still early days - it would be a shame to uproot him and it may set him back, having to make new friends, learn new rules, etc.

Good luck!

Jane

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thankyou all for your replies.  We have decided to leave him where he is for now.  He prefers playing with the older children, this year is a bit of a problem as he cant stay in the afternoon as he doesnt have a nap, but next year he will stay all day - at present we have upped his lunches to 3 days a week so he has the interaction with the older maternelle children.  Hopefully it will all settle into place.

Once again thankyou all for your support.

Regards

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