Resources in the UK and Online
If you are thinking of moving to France with school age children, then one of your concerns must be how to help them settle in and prepare for this change of environment. Perhaps your child has already lived in several countries and will now have the challenge of picking up French as well. Or perhaps, if you are moving to France from the UK, or the US, French is a totally new subject for them.
In our own experience, we made it quite clear to our children that we were considering their needs and prepared them for over a year for the fact that they were going to leave their school and that people would not be able to speak their language. We found it difficult to find language clubs in our area, so I decided that something had to be done. We started with table conversation, using simple objects that lay on the table or nearby, making it into a game. I also found some useful worksheets in the local University’s library for trainee language teachers. And fortunately our primary school cottoned on to the primary language learning initiative and my eldest was learning French with motivation in school (Year 5) for a year before we moved! There are also plenty of videos available on the market which are great for children.
Not all our children were motivated to learn French at home – once they arrived in France there was plenty of motivation!! However, the expense of private tution over the first year could have been spared by participation in a language club while in our home country.
If you have children over 10 years old and are planning a move, we would seriously advise language training before moving, as this greatly helps them to settle in when they arrive, and they are faced with a class that already communicates at a higher level in terms of grammar, vocabulary and reading matter. A basic ability to communicate is essential to ease this transition and avoid a lot of distress. If your child is highly sociable this will pose less of a problem, but if they are naturally reserved, their confidence will be boosted by some knowledge of French beforehand. If the child has at least one year of primary school in France before going to secondary school, this will help them to adjust to the language before having to cope with note taking and the heavy load of homework that is given in French schools.
Here are some useful links to help in teaching your children French, both before and after ‘the move’.
La Jolie Ronde – An excellent language club in the UK
French Education – A US based course
Linguascope – an online course available by subscription and recommended by teachers
Chez Mimi – an online web game that teaches French
B Small – publishers of children’s books, including in French