Kids eh?


(Mandy Davies) #1

We have a problem with my stepson. He is a very intelligent young man, nearly 15, who is in his first year at the Lycee. His first language is French although he is fluent in English. He has started to study French literature but he hates it and is refusing to do the work. He's doing well in all his other subjects and we just can't persuade him that he needs to work at French as well.


My question is, if he fails at French will he still pass his BAC?


Thanks in advance.


(Véronique Langlands) #2

Great! Long may it last :-)


(Mandy Davies) #3

Well it seems our threats, coercion, encouragement etc may be starting to work. My stepson's latest French homework has earned him 2 points above the class average. This is a massive improvement but we will keep our fingers crossed - it may just be a blip. It may also be that Friday is the parent/teacher evening!! Whatever the reason we will hope that he has turned a corner.

Many thanks for all your help and encouraging words.


(Katherine de Ruty) #4

my experience of three boys is that once they hit 14 they get quite lost in their hormones and all the rest of it. Apparently there is a front lobe part of the brain that is responsible for "being responsible and forward thinking that doesn't develop until they are 21. its the years when boys are 'designed" to take risks and not worry about consequences... (made them perfect soldier fodder.. etc) with a lot of care and patience they do get through it but I think it is hard for boys of that age... they aren't as mature as girls but they have so much pressure on them.

If his teacher is writing to you, you are lucky... it means that the teacher has faith in him and wants him to succeed. As Veronique says, teachers have big classes and don't have the time and the space in a big class to make the effort with a child that is just plain "disruptive" keep an eye on his emotional well being, there might be hidden things that he is not talking about.

take a step back, whilst keeping an eye on him and remember that you can't do it for him. you are there to support him.

another thing to remember is that with a little effort most kids of his age do get through He doesn't have to be brilliant at it, just push himself through.


(Véronique Langlands) #5

Oh you can threaten him with it all right, even if he compares notes with others they won't tell him it isn't possible to redouble because they don't know - until very very recently ie last year, if parents ASKED for a redoublement they got it (after a bit of arm-twisting) it is only now that it is just about impossible unless someone has eg missed most of the year for medical reasons.

So threaten away ;-)


(Mandy Davies) #6

Very interesting information. This is my first experience of education in France so all advice is welcome. Thank you.


(Mandy Davies) #7

So we can't threaten him with having to redo the year? That's unfortunate, it was one of the arguments we were using.


(Mandy Davies) #8

You've hit the nail on the head. He was always in the top 2 or 3 at collège and always found the work easy even though he was a year younger than just about everyone else. We live in a rural area so he went to a village collège and has now gone to the local small town for the lycée. I expect you're absolutely right that he is now finding things a bit more difficult than before and has realised that he needs to work in order to achieve good results. In other aspects of his life he often gives up on things quickly if he's not very good at them so I guess that is happening here.

It's very interesting what you say about Spanish because he does want to do engineering. Although he won't be doing that if he finds a bit of literature too difficult!!!

Many thanks for taking the time to help with this.


(Mandy Davies) #9

No need to be sorry and thanks for the fuller reply. I don't think he's lacking confidence just finding it a bit difficult and he's not really used to that. And, of course, all 14 year old boys think they know better than the adults in their lives!!


(Katherine de Ruty) #10

sorry Mandy, I didn't mean to reply so bluntly! the others have answered better.... I have three sons and one of them I also had to drag through by the hairs on his chin.... its tough... I think the advise of letting him mature a year and re do is not a bad one... or... sometimes teenage boys can be so stubborn and if they put their foot down and decide not to work its very difficult.... in the end though as long as he understands the consequences of his work or lack of it... you can't do it for him. Is he lacking confidence? is there someone you can find to mentor him with his french?

I think the year my middle son did his bac was probably the worst year of my life... no excuse for my flippant reply earlier.


(Véronique Langlands) #11

Oh no alas, now you can not only appeal against it & there's a 100% chance there will be no redoublement; now even if you ask for one the chances of getting it are slim as slim can be, the head will try to talk you out of it.

We simply aren't allowed to go that route any more, it is too expensive. So either they go through & do OK, or go through & crash & burn, or we shift them off to someone else sharpish. Heads get a bad rating if they have redoublements.


(Marie-Claire Gauthier) #12

The system here isn't exactly pass or fail, if your step-son gets under-average marks in French he can compensate with other subjects,especially if he chooses to integrate a scientific section.

However, if his behaviour is disruptive, and he has problems with more than one subject, teachers can decide that he would be much happier in a "lycée technique", where he would have lots of math and technology, and a far less demanding syllabus in French. They probably wouldn't want him to repeat the year, especially if his behaviour gets really out of hand, on top of it, the best "lycées techniques" may choose not to take him.

If he chooses not to work, so be it, but being disruptive will get him out on his derrière in no time.


(Victoria Corby) #13

It might also be worth pointing out to him that if he shows himself to be immature, not doing the work required or simply not getting the right average in important subjects - and French is one of those, he stands a good chance of being made to redouble the year, it's quite common in 2e (or was when my girls were at lycée) and I believe that it's one of the years where you can't appeal against the decision - though Veronique will know better than me on this.


(Véronique Langlands) #14

Ah - is he used to being top or top-ish without much effort? Is he a year young for his class or were there a lot of people at his collège who had redoubled at some stage? Where was he at collège? He could just be finding the need to work at everything a bit of a shock to the system... (this happened to one of my daughters who went to lycée at 13 as she'd skipped a year and has a December birthday... it is a bit hard to adjust especially as most lycées are a bit sausage-machine-y).

Do tell him to try not to be seen as a pain because that really won't help. Disruptive pupils really get short shrift if they don't stop being a nuisance, the system doesn't like that behaviour at all and will not hesitate to make life very grim for them.

Economics isn't a problem as he won't be doing it next year if he's in S, but it is worth plugging away at the Spanish because they will look at it fairly beadily on his dossier since after a Bac S, in prépa & engineering school etc they require 2 foreign languages all the way through.

The remarks on his reports for 2° won't count on his applications for higher education, only those for 1° and T° go into his dossier, but maybe you don't need to tell him that just yet...


(Mandy Davies) #15

Hello Véronique

Thank you very much for your reply. He is in 2eme and is taking the science route next year. He is 1 of only a few students from his collège that went to lycée at age 14 and in some subjects he is near the top of his class. In English, of course, he gets 20/20 every time! However, we can not get him to understand that at his age he has to do what is required and can not just chose which subjects to work at. He is also not so keen on Spanish and Economics and is below the class average in those subjects. In French, however, the teacher is really frustrated with him and has written a very damning email to his Mother and to us. He is also gaining a reputation for being disruptive in class. He has only been there since September!! The change from collège is bewildering to us as he did so well there. This is new territory for us.

I will explain to him what you have said and hopefully he will listen. For the moment, he has decided that he knows best with his vast experience of the world!!!!

Thanks again for your help.


(Mandy Davies) #16

Thanks for replying.


(Véronique Langlands) #17

Is he in 2°? What série (ie L ES S or STMG) is he thinking of choosing for the Bac? He will be doing the French bit of the Bac next year in 1°. Depending on which speciality he goes for, he can still get his Bac even with a bad mark for French because of the weightings given to different subjects. I'd say, however, that whether he likes it or not he just has to get on with it and do at least the minimum necessary to get, say, 9 or 10 as that won't penalise him unduly later.

If he refuses to do the work he will get 0 and may well find himself shunted into a course he doesn't like in 1°

a) because he won't have demonstrated an ability to rise above personal likes and dislikes and do his work in order to succeed and

b) he will have demonstrated that he isn't actually that clever (because he hasn't understood a).

Refusing to work seldom goes down well and if, once we have had a few chats about it with colleagues & the pupil in question, a solution isn't found, one of two things will happen - either the pupil continues not to work, does badly, passes & goes somewhere else & isn't our problem any more or he/she doesn't pass and we refuse to take him or her back to resit & he/she won't be our problem any more.

The marks people get are important, obviously, but for entry to good higher education the comments on the report are VERY important and things like 'refuses to work, needs to grow up' will not stand a candidate in good stead.

I teach in lycée and after a while if someone refuses to work then it is up to them, I have 36 people in class and someone who has decided to refuse to work has made his choice and will have to live with the result - I will devote my efforts to those who are willing to make an effort.


(Katherine de Ruty) #18

No he won't. you have to pass french to pass the BAC