How is your children's English?


(Wendy Wise) #1

If you’ve been in France for some time and have children in French schools, you’ve probably noticed that their English is suffering. They say things like " the house who has a green door". What will happen in the future if they would like to return to England for university or to work? Don’t worry help is at hand! Check the range of English Literacy tutors on http://www.facilitutors.com


(Kathryn Dobson) #2

There are a number of organisations set up around France to help young English speakers maintain and develop their English. I was absolutely determined that my three girls would grow up literate bilinguals so set up Accents where we have ‘real’ (qualified!) English teachers teach English literacy. By starting young, we find this not only keeps their English on a par with those back in the UK, but also helps their French. Our local French teachers now recommend that maternal English children come to Accents to maintain their English as it improves their French too!

We’re not unique, there is also BEE in Dordogne, a couple in/around Paris, one in Annemasse and two in Ferney Voltaire catering for Geneva, one in Montpellier plus a couple of others that have slipped my mind.

Several years on and all my girls can read and write in English to at least the same level as their peers in the UK (we test them annually using UK bought / calibrated tests). I could not have achieved on my own having 3 children all at different levels and no teaching experience at all. By clubbing together as an association, we’ve managed to be able to afford to buy recognised teaching resources from the UK and employ qualified teachers - now the only difficulty is persuading the girls that investing their free time in lessons is the best thing to do!


(Wendy Wise) #3

Interesting and amusing blog on same subject: http://www.multilingualliving.com/2010/05/28/should-you-correct-your-bilingual-childs-language-mistakes/


(Christina Bernier) #4

…I’m keeping a spot free right above my left breast!


(Sarah Hague) #5

My kids were born in France. When my eldest was 2, my ex-h and I spent a year in the US with him where he flatly refused to speak French, and came back with an American accent.

It took him a month when we got back to revert to French and he’s now bilingual.

My youngest hasn’t had the advantage of living in the US or the UK and he has a ‘thing’ about speaking English. He understands everything but doesn’t like speaking. I suppose he’ll do better when he gets to collège.


(Karen Parr) #6

My doctor speaks fairly good English. We have an understanding that I speak French to him and he speak English to me and we correct each other if necessary. When giving my daughter a vaccination recently he said “You will have a bottom there for a few days”. This was a bit puzzling until I realised that he mean spot or “bouton” in French. He had forgotten the word so said it in French with (what he thought) was an English accent. He was very embarrassed when I told him what he had actually said. Poor man, I know how he feels as it’s a tack I often use when I don’t know a word in French but it doesn’t always work. You also have to be careful of your pronounciation. I was once late meeting someone and I rushed up saying (so I thought) “Je suis désolé”, what I actually said was “Je suis décédé”! Not quite the same thing!! At least we all had a good laugh about it.
K x


(Tracy Thurling) #7

One of my other favourites is when small, my daughter used to say she had ‘a couly nez’ instead of a runny nose!


(Wendy Wise) #8

Thanks for all the posts so far, I think you deserve a medal Christina! On a slightly different tack, my GP thinks he speaks really good English and enjoys learning English slang, however he often gets it a bit wrong and during the cold weather greeted his English patients with “It is monkey brass weather today”. You need to be able to speak French so you can get back to his meaning sometimes. Last year, on a rare visit chez le medecin, he greeted me with “You are ze fee”, when I looked puzzled he explained that he was talking about Peter Pan. Then the penny dropped, he meant “fée”, ie fairy and I then had to explain that Tinkerbell was the “fee” not Wendy. No wonder the waiting time is longer when he’s on duty.


(Christina Bernier) #9

My son was born in France, spent 10 months in England at the age of 18 months and grew up in French-speaking Quebec til the age of 10 when we moved back to France.

I had an uphill struggle with both his languages. We were bringing him up bilingually as his father was Quebecois and we each only spoke our own language to him. So he started to speak in both languages which was really funny. He would often learn the word in the language with the best sound like ‘pomme’!

When we were in England for a few months his father stopped speaking French to him (too embarrassed, despite my 18 months chatting away in French parks to my son in English!) When we arrived in Quebec to a french only family, he no longer spoke French but understood perfectly. To the question from his granny ‘est-ce que tu parles francais?’ he replied an emphatic ‘yes’…and everyone then looked at me! I also had to teach him (and learn myself) Quebecois French terms and American English…truck not lorry was a big one as was ‘char’ for car.

So I spent the next few years beefing up his French at home (in my not always correct French, poor love) until I realised that he was surrounded by French and had stopped speaking English…took too long to find the words. Yikes! I then insisted that a weekends he had to speak to me only in French. Weekdays had homework and the day’s happenings in French so it was too difficult then. I was quite strict about this and was relieved to see his english come back. Imagine having a child who doesn’t speak his mother tongue!

When we moved to France, next door to his English grandparents, and hooked into English telly his English and culture (slang) improved enormously - Eastenders and Tracey mainly! Since we have moved into our new house with no English telly due to my French only speaking partner, I noticed it slipping again so I started speaking English again to him to keep it up. He’s now 16 and franglais badly but then again after so many years in French speaking countries, so do I! But at least he can still speak to me in English, if badly at times!


(Karen Parr) #10

Here are two examples that my eight-year old daughter came out with this weekend. My husband has hurt his neck so is walking stiffly - her observation was "Daddy, are you “Andy Capp”? It took us a while to realise she meant “handicappé”, not the cartoon character! The other was "Mummy, do you like this song by “Gills”? I had to ask her to show me the CD to see which band she was referring to. It was actually J.L.S. but with French pronunciation, it becomes gills! I don’t think they would be very impressed to be called this! I find the children often use French pronunciation when reading an English word they don’t know. My daughter is better than my son as she reads in English too and this has really helped her. Unfortunately my son doesn’t like reading in any language so it’s an uphill struggle with him. One good thing - he doesn’t like to be outdone by his younger sister so is working on his English a bit more these days. K x


(Catharine Higginson) #11

At least at that age its cute /funny…Just you wait till they get older Tracy…!!!


(Wendy Wise) #12

Hmm, yes I can see that could be a bit embarassing!


(Tracy Thurling) #13

One of my favourites is when my toddler lost something she would say ‘cherche it mummy’! Say it out loud to get the full effect!


(Wendy Wise) #14

You must have worked hard too, though to keep them on the straight and narrow.

I would love to hear some examples of franglais by the way Catharine …


(Catharine Higginson) #15

I always find beating them when they lapse into franglais works a treat…

Your two have done so well Lucinda - you should be really proud!