CHALK AND TALK
Ensuring that your child is bilingual isn't as easy it might seem... what are the main stumbling blocks, and which is the best school for your child?
Choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions you make if you are moving with kids. They are likely to find it much harder to adjust than you will. In a survey of where expatriates choose to live in France, convenience for the children's school is the reason most often given for moving to a specific area.
When looking at schools, you need to consider whether you want your child to speak French better than English. If so, and your child cannot yet read or write English, or has sufficient knowledge of French, they can be sent to a state school, which is free up to the baccalauréat (the final school exam).
Many French "private" schools have state support. This means that a good education can be inexpensive.
If you are intending to return to your home country at some time in the future, it is prudent to send your child to an international school where there is a good balance of English and French spoken. In Paris, most of these are to be found in the banlieue ouest. It is not worth trying to do the school run from the other side of Paris… although some parents do, and suffer for it.
If you take the international option, check on the proportion of French to foreign pupils and make sure the school has the infrastructure to deal with your child's particular needs. If you are both working, you should also ensure that there is a good variety of after-school activities, which will bring the child into social contact with French speakers while giving you that extra couple of hours to get home in the evening. French schools start and finish early, so you may otherwise have to arrange for an au pair or a nanny.
In addition to extra hours in English, many schools offer courses such as history and geography in English. Many schools prepare students for English and American exams, but there are a number of international options to consider: the French baccalauréat, the B.O.I. (Baccalauréat Français à Option Internationale) or the B.I. (Baccalauréat International de Genève), I.G.C.S.E. (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) and university entrance exams for the US and the UK. See Living in the Suburbs of Paris for opinions on which international schools are well thought of among expatriates.
Finally, there is the traditional option, taken by colonial parents for at least the last three hundred years-send the brat to boarding school in your home country or in France. This should never be ruled out. Expatriate life, with both parents giving up considerable time for life adjustments and work challenges, can be a nightmare for the child, who may be happier in a stable environment. After all, if they're going to spend all their time with a nanny, it might be better to reserve home for holiday time (of which there is plenty) and set them among children of their own age. Boarding schools fees are comparable to those of the international schools. On the other hand, you may miss the kids and they you. Parents often forget to ask their children's opinion about where to send them to school, even though most children will have a definite preference.
If you want your children to follow the same system as in the US or UK, then an international school is your best bet. Following American or British models, these schools also ensure that your children develop language skills. They are not state subsidised, and therefore very expensive. A cost-effective alternative is a bilingual education, subsidised by the French government. If you plan to stay less than a year in France, the best thing is to send your children to an international school.
The Bilingual Montessori School of Paris
Children between three and six years are taught by the Montessori method, 9h to 12h (€ 3,800 annually) or 9h to 15h (€ 5,500 annually), in French and English. About 40 percent are anglo-phone. There are plentiful activities such as art, singing and a pony club, but there is no parent teacher association. At the American Church, 65, quai d'Orsay (7e). 01.45.55.13.27. Fax: 01.45.51.25.12. Also Jardin d'Enfants Montessori d'Auteuil, 53, rue Erlanger (16e). 01.46.51.65.87. Fax: 01.45.51.25.12. Also The Toddler Program, where 14 children, age two and three, work on Montessori Practical Life exercises and Censorial Development between 9h and 12h. At the American Cathedral, 23, av. George V (8e). 01.45.55.13.27.
This is an English jardin d'enfants for two- to five-year-olds with a maximum of 16 children between two teachers. It operates five days per week, 9h15 to 12h15. Two days a week cost an annual € 976; three days cost € 1,394. Laclef, 46, rue de Mareil, 78100 St-Germain-en-Laye. 01.39.21.54.90. Fax: 01.39.73.29.21.
This is a co-educational school with 144 students between three and ten years old, with 20 pupils per class. English is taught for 45 minutes each day. The school prides itself on its extracurricular activities and an informal atmosphere. Tuition is € 255 a month. There is a parent teacher association. 24, bd. Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris. 01.43.20.61.24.
Ecole Montessori Bilingue de St-Cloud
This is a private school for 140 children age three to 11, which prepares pupils for bilingual schools or straightforward French collèges. The Montessori method is used in maternelle, and the école primaire is influenced by the method. Between six and nine hours of English are taught per week, equating to roughly half the class time. A quarter of students in maternelle are anglo-phone, but this diminishes further up the school. Fees are € 358 a month for maternelle; € 366 for primaire. Hours are 9h to 15h30, with a halte-garderie until 17h. 5, rue de Garches 92210 St-Cloud. 01.47.71.61.03. Fax: 01.47.71.91.05.
Ecole Montessori du Val-de-Marne
For children age 22 months to nine years. The Montessori method is used by English-speaking teachers. The bilingual education costs € 3,979 a year. 2, pl. des Canadiens, 94340 Joinville-le-Pont. 01.48.89.52.12. Fax 01.48.89.12.34.
Europe: Rencontres et Echanges
This is a nursery school for children 18 months to five years where you can choose between Franco-English and Franco-German teaching. Basic education is performed by English or German speakers. Music and storytelling takes place in French. Tours abroad are organised. 1, rue de la Folie Méricourt (11e). 01.43.38.79.37. Fax 01.43.38.04.54.
European Infant Academy
This is a bilingual nursery with a maximum of 15 children per class. All teaching is in English, but the teaching follows the French model, and the students speak French during break-times. Effort is taken to ensure that children leaving maternelle are fluent in English and French. Chess is compulsory from four years old, and theatre from five. There are babysitters until 18h30 for an extra € 122 per term. Three months cost € 1,372; monthly fees are for € 343 a twelve month period. Lunch fees are extra at € 95 per month. 125, rue Garibaldi, 94100 St-Maur. 01.43.97.93.46.
Jardin d'Enfants des Nations Unies
All nationalities age two and a half to six in bilingual classes, where classes include dance, English and crafts. Fees are € 816 a term, mornings only; € 1,285for the full day. 40, rue Pierre Guérin (16e). 01.45.27.20.24. Fax: 01.45.24.28.54.
Jardin d'Enfants Rudolf Steiner
This trilingual maternelle follows the Rudolf Steiner method for children age two-and-a-half to six years. Games are taught in German, singing lessons in English, storytelling in French. € 381 per month with canteen included. 44, rue de Clignancourt (18e). 01.42.51.29.20.
A Montessori nursery with bilingual teachers for three- to six-year-olds. The 39 students prepare for the next stage of their education in English or French. Tuition is € 1,052 per term. Mornings only cost € 686 a term. 28, rue Vignon (9e). 01.49.24.05.69.
This is a bilingual kindergarten with 18 students per group. The school day is 8h30 to 19h, but most pupils stay half-day for English or French in a relaxed atmosphere. Play groups run from 9h to 12h in the 8th and 16th arrondissements. Fees for the kindergarten are € 351 per year. 2, rue Jacquemont (17e). 01.42.28.56.17. Fax: 01.48.06.33.72. Other schools in the 16e and in the 8e.
Stuart International Pre-School,
la Petite Ecole Bilingue Bilingual teachers follow the Lady Anne Henderson-Stewart method in this school, teaching children age two and six, who can attend half-time or full-time. Half-timers have two options, attending from 8h30 to 11h30 or from 13h30 to 16h30. An after-noon sleep period complete with mattresses is organised for toddlers. Activities include theatre, dance, storytelling, singing in English, and swimming. Fees for three months are € 732 half-time or € 1,204 full-time. 8, pl. de la Porte de Champerret (17e). 01.43.80.25.34./ 01.43.80.37.40.
American School of Paris
There are 750 international students, ages four to 18. The school teaches the college preparatory American curriculum in English and a B.O.I. program on its 12-acre campus west of Paris. € 6,449 a year for pre-school to € 13,507 for 12th grade. There is a bus service from Paris and the western suburbs. 41, rue Pasteur, BP 82, 92216 St-Cloud Cedex. 01.41.12.82.82. Fax: 01.46.02.23.90.
British Schools of Paris
There are two schools, a junior school (ages four to 11) and a senior school (ages 11 to 18), based on the British system; G.C.S.E. and A-level, and a daily French-language class. 330 students in the senior school and 25 in each class. Annual tuition fees are € 9,909 for junior school and € 11,586 for senior school. The junior school has a PE department with a swimming pool, football, and netball. Music teachers give private lessons. In both junior and senior school, the student teacher ratio is very low. 38, quai de l'Ecluse, 78290 Croissy-sur-Seine. 01.34.80.45.90. Fax: 01.39.76.12.69. Junior School, Chemin du Mur du Parc, 78380 Bougival. 01.39.69.78.21. Fax: 01.30.82.47.49. School bus service, € 1,283 a year.
Ecole Active Bilingue
This is an international, co-educational school for ages three to 18, on Parc Monceau in the 8e, and in the 16e and 17e. It teaches the bac (with European option) as well as American and British secondary school diplomas. English classes start in nursery school, and by first grade students have an hour-and-a-half of English each day. From 12 years old, history, geography and physics are taught in English. There are 2,300 students, with an average of 25 per class. Tuition is € 1,000 a term for the French high school section; € 2,950 a term for the US and British sections Mme. Hourcade-Reading, 117, bd. Malesherbes (8e). 01.45.63.62.22. Fax: 01.45.63.62.23.
Ecole Active Bilingue J.M.
A quarter of the school is anglo-phone, and there is an active parent teacher association. There is a gym, and a nearby pool and stadium for other sports. Clubs include philosophy, science and theatre. The Suffren location is for three- to seven-year-olds. Edgar Fauré takes three- to eight-year-olds. Rue du Théâtre takes seven- to 18-year-olds. Students come from 60 countries and study the bac, B.O.I. and US college entrance exams. French curriculum with history, geography and science is taught in English, with all other courses in French. Japanese is compulsory in the 9e, and optional thereafter. Termly tuition is € 559 in maternelle; € 875 for bac preparatory classes. There is no school bus. 141, av. de Suffren (7e). 01.47.34.27.72. Fax 01.45.67.25.75. 15, rue Edgar Fauré (15e). 01.44.49.09.43. Fax: 01.45.67.65.15. 70, rue du Théâtre (15e). 01.44.37.00.80. Fax: 01.45.79.06.66.
This co-educational school is in the delightful surroundings of the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte. The lycée and primaire offer a bilingual option, with instruction half in English, half in French. The 1,000 students between three and 18, of which 250 board, spend six hours on English a week and can take Cambridge First Certificate and G.C.S.E. English. The principal exam is the bac, and the school also prepares pupils for the grandes écoles. International exchanges and intern-ships in foreign enterprises are organised. Extracurricular activities include sport, theatre, singing and dance. Term fees are € 321 for primaire, rising to around € 717 for lycée. Boarding costs between € 6,708 and € 9,299 a year. Av. Eglé, Maisons-Laffitte. 01.39.62.04.02. Fax: 01.39.62.54.02.
Anglo-phone Section, Fontainebleau:
Ecole Primaire Internationale/ C.E.S International/ Lycée François 1er This is a combined anglo-phone section within three co-educational French state schools on a single campus, teaching pupils six to 18 years. It teaches a French curriculum with an additional six hours of English. In the 2de, there are I.G.C.S.E.s in English language and literature, French, history, math and so on. At terminale, students sit B.O.I. Many go on to universities in the UK and US. The school also boasts a lively theatrical tradition and participates in the model United Nations project. Annual fees for the anglo-phone section are € 1,438 for primaire; € 1,470 for secondary and lycée. Rue Guérin, Fontainebleau. 01.64.22.11.77. Fax: 01.64.23.43.17.
Classes are taught in French, English or German from nursery school to the 3ème, representing the cultural diversity of the school-35 percent of the 200 students are foreigners to France. Annual tuition is € 5,400. There is a recently created parent teacher association. Extracurricular activities include judo, art (taught in German), chess and other sports. 5, rue de Lübeck (16e). 01.40.70.12.81. Fax: 01.40.70.91.07.
Fidès Champs de Mars
A bilingual school for children from two and a half years to lycée level, preparing for the bac. The first two years focus on developing skills in English and French. Five-year-olds are taught Mathematics and Latin. P.E. is taught in English. The pupil ratio is 15 percent English and American, 10 percent Japanese and Korean, the rest of the pupils are French. Sports include tennis, golf, pony riding and swimming. Fees termly are € 686 and € 915 or, for half-time, € 274 and € 305. Babysitting and evening study periods are extra. 10, av. de la Bourdonnais (7e). 01.45.51.63.80.
Institut de la Tour
A French Catholic high school in the 16th arrondissement with 900 students, mainly girls. The anglo-phone section for bilingual students aged 11 to 18 makes up 10 percent of the school. All students prepare for the bac. Students in the anglo-phone section follow an enriched program in English for about six hours a week: a core course in literature, composition and grammar with a cultural enrichment course. Annual tuition for the anglo-phone section is € 1,829. 86, rue de la Tour (16e). 01.45.04.73.35. Fax: 01.45.04.27.98.
This catholic private school has two campuses-nursery and primary school, and collège and lycée, taking around 2,000 students in all. The Bilingual English section prepares for Cambridge First Certificate in 3ème and Cambridge Proficiency Certificate in terminale. The primary school English program caters for beginners and bilingual children. In the secondary school, the Bilingual English Section takes classes in English language, literature and history for up to six hours a week with English-speaking teachers. 3, rue de Témara, BP 4259, 78104 St-Germain-en-Laye Cedex. 01.30.87.17.87. Fax: 01.30.61.57.67.
International School of Paris
Pupils from 41 countries aged four to 18 are taught in English. I.G.C.S.E. and I.B. are taught in small classes with the emphasis on teacher interaction. All pupils study French. There is a variety of extracurricular activities and sports. Students go on to universities worldwide. Annual tuition is € 6,022 for kindergarten, € 12,196 for 9th and 10th, and € 12,577 for 11th and 12th. 6, rue Beethoven (16e). 01.42.24.09.54. Fax: 01.45.27.15.93.
The Lennen Bilingual School
This is a bilingual nursery, kindergarten and primary school. Two bilingual teachers, one French, one English, teach each program in Primary classes (1st to 3rd grade). For the jardin d'enfants, fees are € 4,269 a year for mornings 9h to 12h or afternoons 13h to 16h. The full day is € 5,793 per year. There is no school on Wednesday afternoons. Primary school (8h15 to 15h15) costs € 6,098 per year. At the American Church, 65, quai d'Orsay (7e). 01.47.05.66.55. Fax 01.47.05.17.18.
The Lycée International
A co-educational lycée of 2,600 (ages 13 to 18) which integrates students from other countries into the French educational system while maintaining their native language and culture. There are 11 semi-autonomous foreign sections. Students lacking fluency in spoken or written French are enrolled in an adaptation program for a year or until they master the language. The British and American sections teach English language, literature and history for six hours per week in primary and middle schools, and eight hours per week in the upper school. Students in these sections pursue a bilingual course leading to B.O.I., with roughly 60 percent going on to universities in the UK, US and Canada. The remainder go to French universities and grandes écoles. There are 20 pupils in each class. The American and British sections, starting at age four, cost € 3,354 per year for all grade levels. Boarding facilities are available. Rue Fer à Cheval, BP 230, 78104 St-Germain-en-Laye. British Section: 01.34.51.62.64. Fax: 01.34.51.39.36. American Section: 01.34.51.74.85. Fax: 01.30.87.00.49.
This Catholic, co-educational international school, teaches an American curriculum from maternelle to 3ème. The basic curriculum is in English, with one lesson a day dedicated to French. The particular advantage of this school is its extensive program for children with learning disabilities in the independent special education class. There are 21 students per class. Annual tuition is € 9,284 in kindergarten; € 13,842 in terminale. Bus transportation is laid on from central Paris. 72, bd. de la Saussaye, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine. 01.46.24.10.51. Fax: 01.46.37.07.50.
Collège de Sèvres
This is a French state school with an international section, with six hours a week in either English or German. The 350 students can take B.O.I. as well as the bac. There are 25 students per class. Fees are € 1,448 a year for the upper school and € 457 a year for the Wednesday 8h30 to 11h30 primary classes. rue Lecocq, 92310 Sèvres. 01.46.23.96.35. Fax: 01.45.34.76.63.
Other International Schools
College-Lycée International Honoré de Balzac
118, bd. Bessières, 75017 Paris. 01.53.11.12.13.
College Marcel Roby American Section
6, rue Giraud Teulon, 78100 St.-Germain-en-Laye. 01.34.51.00.96.
Institut de l'Assomption
6, Rue de Lübeck, 75114, Paris. 01.47.20.81.93.
11, rue Ernest Renan, 92190, Meudon. 01.46.26.99.88.
For further details consult The Yellow Pages