Speaking English, Spanish, Chinese, or another language fluently has become a real passport to access many professions. A finding that encourages more and more parents to enroll their children in bilingual schools, from kindergarten for some. What are the advantages of these international schools, how do they work, and how to choose the most suitable one?
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What exactly is a bilingual school?
A bilingual school or international school is an institution where teaching is done in two different languages. The primary objective is not only to learn the language: it is about speaking it to the fullest and in different contexts, to hear it and be immersed in it to the fullest.
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Bilingual education begins in kindergarten for some schools. The younger the child, the more assimilation of vocabulary, grammar is done quickly. Language learning capacity reaches its peak between 3 and 4 years, according to Claude Hagège, linguist and professor at the Collège de France. It is at this age that the capacity for mimicry, on which the bulk of learning a language is based, are at their maximum. As in the case of classical education, teaching in a bilingual school takes place gradually: in kindergarten, the child will learn, for example, to introduce himself or to name colors and animals.
In public institutions, bilingual education begins at college, for French-speaking children who are not from a bi-national family. For children from binational families, access to international schools is a priority. Public bilingual schools have dedicated sections from primary school.
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Foreign language education holds a place preponderant in a bilingual institution. However, exposure to language outside classes remains paramount. Travelling, reading, listening to music, speaking, watching television in a foreign language are all activities to be preferred in order to reinforce your achievements.
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Bilingual school and its benefits
Beyond the obvious progress that pupils make in language, international schools are high level schools, with high demands and real emulation between students. The international high school of Sèvres, for example, in the Paris region, has a success rate of 99% of which 90% mentions. Another advantage is that bilingual schools cultivate the art of living together and openness to others, with students of different nationalities and diverse cultures.
Attention however, it is necessary to have a very good level of language before entering a bilingual school. International colleges give priority to students from binational families; some schools indicate (on their website or documentation) that the curriculum is designed for fluent language speakers. The aim is to receive motivated students, already with good language skills, in order to enable them to reach an excellent level. Final objective: to move the OIB, Bac to international option.
How to choose a bilingual school?
There are several types ofbilingual schools : public schools, private contracted schools and non-contract private schools, which generally develop alternative learning methods. An international school chooses itself as a classical school, depending on its proximity and general level, especially if the student wishes to join a prepa or a large school later.
It may also be interesting to compare the number of hours of instruction in a foreign language. This can vary from 5 to 10 hours per week depending on the school.
Also compare the cost of teaching year-round. If registration in public schools is free, some sections may be paid, between 1000 and €2000 per year depending on the schools and sections. In private schools, annual costs can climb up to €6,000.
For information purposes, there are some reference schools:
- In Île-de-France, the school Camille-Sée (Paris XVth), Honoré-de-Balzac (Paris XVIIth) and Ravel (Paris 20th century). In the private sector, we can mention the EABJM (Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine-Manuel), L’école Alsatienne, the Cours Molière and the Montessori schools;
- In Lyon, the Cité Scolaire Internationale, the International School of Lyon and the Lycée Ombrosa;
- In Strasbourg, the European School of Strasbourg.
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