Pratique d'une langue etrangere

My daughter has just brought home her first evaluation of CP - 1's in almost everything, hooray, she has her mother's genes! The 1 - 2's are all in 'Competances Transversales' oops, she has to learn to listen and accept she is not 'le leader' in the class - Maitresse's words not mine, no surprises yet then.

However, despite being born here and completely bi-lingual since birth she has received her only '2' in foreign languages!!!!! Where does that come from (she can read and write in both French and English), is it a sign of things to come - I'm curious to know which they count as a foreign language as she has '1' all the way through the academic stuff!

Baffled? I certainly am!

There is really fascinating talk up on that might interest some of you.

Deb Roy (MIT) recorded the first 2 years of his son’s life (the house had full audio and video) with the idea that he could study how his son acquired language and gather some very interesting data about language acquisition and the social environment. You’ll find the talk here: Deb Roy: the birth of a word.

Someone should (if it has not already been done) do the same for children in multi-lingual families.

Its a sad situation that us mums are put in… Ive lived in france for 18 months with my hubby ( He’s No French at all ) my 2 kids 4yrs & 6yrs. In the short time we’ve been here, they are prety much fluent. Thankfully his CP teacher is very supportive but if I let them they would only speak french at home… We are not french, and as we can offer our children the chance of being bi-lingual it is the most important skill we can offer. I have looked for jobs where french, english & spanish is expected. What better a door is opened for our children than already being bi-lingual (without trying) Living abroad, we couldnt offer our children a better start in life, albeit a difficult one!!

Hi Amber,

That was the situation I found myself in when my girls were in elementary school with one difference - there weren’t any English classes in their school. Before I took matters into my own hands, I had to think long and hard about what I wanted for my kids and why it mattered so much to me that they spoke MY language as well as their father’s. For me the biggest driver was CHOICE. They are the children of two cultures and I wanted them to have every opportunity, every possibility, to actively participate in both. They didn’t appreciate it much at the time but, hey, it’s a little like making them do their math homework or practice a musical instrument - this is an investment in the future. Sometimes Mom really does know best :wink: I wouldn’t say that they thank me today (they are both teenagers). On the contrary, they seem to take their fluency in both languages in stride. But the look on my elder daughter’s face when she got her TOEFL score - she was so proud. Whatever happens now (maybe they stay in France, maybe not) I did my job. I gave them the tools - now my role is to step out of the way and let them decide.

It seemed to me that I wrote a post about this topic on my blog a few years ago. I went back and checked through the archives and sure enough there it was (way back in 2008).

I called it, “How to Raise Frenchlings.” and if anyone is interested, you can find it here:


Susan is certainly right - keep up the English at home - reading, watching TV and conversation. As for pronunciation, I won’t even go there! I teach English to degree students. It is very different to the English they learned at school!

There was time when my kids (two French/American daughters) were simply not motivated to speak, read or write English. It seemed to be a combination of they didn’t want to be different, there were no rewards (none of their friends spoke it) and it was (in the words of my elder) “hard”.

The situation with the school a few years back was also not very helpful. I was scolded by one of my daughter’s elementary school teacher for speaking English at home. She assured me that they would never achieve a good level in French as long as I was there to confuse them. In all fairness, I recognize that it is not the job of the French public school system to teach my children English or to support me in my goal to have bi-lingual kids - their objective is to teach the national language and form French citizens.

So, I figured I had to tackle this one on my own. First step was getting some very good books about second-language learning by children (I highly recommend Kenji Hakuta). Second step was to stop asking advice from the school. Third step was OPOL (One Parent, One Language) and I enforced it. I refused to answer any request by the girls in French and I made a rule that all English or French books and films had to be read and viewed in the original language. It was not fun at the beginning. I was, apparently, the meanest nastiest Mom in the world because I wouldn’t let them read Harry Potter in French. There were also a lot of tears when it came time to write Thank-you notes in English for birthday and Christmas presents.

Seems to have worked out alright. My elder has a very good TOEFL score and she got a good grade at the Bac. The younger was able to get into an international school. I’d say that English is still the weaker language but not by much.

My .02 :slight_smile:

I’m seeing this from both sides.

  1. My son, who is now in CM2 is perfectly bilingual and seems to get very good grades DEPENDING on the teacher (this year great, last lousy!). I think there is still some problems of acceptance in certain classes of kids who are not “pure” french.

  2. I gave some lessons at his school last year and can vouch for the fact that it’s hard work, rewarding, but also not always appreciated!. Not sure for my part whether I would voluenteer again, but considering the level of the supposedly “agreé” teacher for English in our School some help is certainly necessary.

I would suggest just keeping an eye on you childs levels of understanding, as it is unfortunately true that there is not much point questioning the French system. The more trouble the parent is, the less the child will be encouraged to develop by the teacher involved. If you feel your childs level is OK for their age just go with the flow, don’t push too hard and expect the odd “bizzare” score, but don’t overly worry about it.

Hello everyone, I too teach English to “young adults” here in France! We have been here for 18 months, after living in Western Australia for 6 years. My daughter is 7 and her English lessons consist of learning “I leeeve in Payzac” and "Good night, how are you?"
Enough said!
PS I think the idea of stepping up and taking the littlies for English is really good, as Rebekah has done - although some schools are a little resistant to this.

As a primary school teacher, now teaching English to adults for the CCI, I have taught English at our local school for free. My sons teacher, who teaches CP, CE1 and the Grande Section is an older teacher who doesn’t speak any English. Normally, the nursery teacher would step into the breach, but for one year this wasn’t an option. As a member of the A.P.E and knowing that our school was nearly closed done due to lack of pupils, it was natural to want to help out and work as a volunteer and it was only for an hour a week.
I will add, it wasn’t that enjoyable- the children were a lot more demanding than the adults I teach, but it was appreciated by our very small commune- so well worth the effort.

thanks Emma, great resource!

Hi Susan,
Sorry, only just seen your reply! I totally agree about not rocking the boat but it’s annoying that daughter has an excellent score brought down because her ‘foreign language’ is not of the same high standard. OK, it’s not a big deal at her age and how do they assess them at 6 yrs old, half of her class do not even read in French yet, let alone English! The only issue I have picked up on is that the teacher claims to speak English but Chiara says she can’t understand her when she speaks English and when the teacher tried some out on me I hardly understood her either! lol
The teacher has asked me if I’d like to ‘volunteer’ at school and help out with English but as a working mum, I have had to say no for now - I also can’t imagine standing in front of a class of 6 year olds, I’d die!

For help with Key stage 1/2


As we know that we are returning to the U.K. in two years time, we are keeping a very close eye on the primary curriculum as my 7 year old will re-enter at key stage 2 and the 3 year old will start in the 2nd year of key stage 2. When we left the U.K. the teacher was really helpful and gave me www. for Parents in Touch a website helping "home schoolers" and parents who want to be more involved. I hope it helps you and re-assures you that what they are doing here in France will allow them to pass G.C.S.E's with ease. The teacher said her only worry as a teacher for re-entry would be positive one for my daughters..

Ours have always done fine - 18 or 19 out of 20 but NEVER 20 / 20 ...

Why? "Because ze teeecher knos best"

Even if they can't flipping speak "inglish" - grrr!

We're thinking of getting our little ones to follow the English curriculum for English with a view to sitting GCSEs or whatever exists in many years time in addition to the french system as we've heard a lot of stories that Franglais kids seem to get marked down by the French system

I have a friend who is a primary school teacher in the UK so I'm going to ask her for some resources. Anyone else doing this?

Hi Tracy

Like you I am baffled by some of the marking on these competences. My eldest is 13 and has lived here since she was 6. I cannot claim she is bi-lingual, since I don't know how that is assessed, but if not she is as near as damn it.

She came home from college with an evaluation in ORAL English which said 8.5/20 !! Her primary language is still English - she reads, writes and according to her thinks in English yet she got less than half marks in an oral test? I could understand if it had been written and the marks lost due to spelling errors (how my middle daughter loses her marks!!) but it wasn't.

Going to see the teacher after the Christmas holidays to find out how they do the evaluations. Good luck with your little one. If you get to the bottom of it let me know as I have twins in CP