Thanks for the advice. I don't have to decide until my son starts in September I just learned and a spot opens in my daughter's class. I just wanted to prepare my thoughts ahead of time. Basically it's only when he's at the school through the British system that she qualifies, which I'm happy about as it buys more time. But I am learning towards keeping her Lycée and playing it safe. Of course, saving the money would be great, but we live comfortably as is so I think it makes sense to have peace of mind. However, I think my husband would rather save the money...but I'm the one in charge of the children's school so I could convince him that we should keep her on the Lycée side.
Sorry, it's very complicated how it works. Basically, my children are in the French section, called the Lycée. But within their class, half the children are coming through the British section, which is won via lottery and free. So 14 Lycée kids and 14 British kids making the class a total of 28 children. Half the kids pay a fee of 8,500 GBP a year for their spots while the other half (births half get in for FREE!). It is the same education. However, French follow admission via calendar year and British side do from September to August for admission. Therefore, my son had to start one year early than he normally would have because he entered through the French system, therefore we pay 8.5k a year for him and my daughter. However, we applied for the British lottery, which he would qualify for the next year, because of the way his birthday falls (October), and he won a spot! But he would have to repeat the year, as he would be entering through the British side, which we are prepared to do, as academically, he is just not ready to progress. He is still not getting reading and to be honest, my feeling is...what's the rush? No reason to rush through school and start him a year early, unless he's a genius! Also, it saves us 8.5k a year.
I only feel guilty because he has made good friends and is happy. But the friends come and go as the school is international with families moving to new countries etc. So if we accept the spot, my daughter will then qualify for a free spot too. But this would mean we gamble for secondary. We can afford to pay her yearly fee. However, of course it is tempting to save the money! Especially, as some children from the free side have gotten into the secondary! It just seems unfair to pay all this money, when others don't pay and they get into the secondary anyway! However, because she won't be going for 5 years to secondary, who knows what will happen. If she gets into secondary, then my son automatically gets a spot because of sibling priority. I am leaning towards to keep paying for her and accept the free spot for my son only. However, this is a big chunk of money 40k for school fees after 5 years, when I could get the same exact education for free. I know it's so confusing! I hope my explanation helps clarify things.
Thanks Amy! I will order those tomorrow. If my son isn't ready for them, he eventually will be! But you're right, the descriptions are not usually too long, so it could be a good option for him!
And yes, I think we will accept the spot for him, but this also means my daughter gets priority for a free spot when one opens up in her year. However, if we accept for her as well, this means we might not be guaranteed a spot for the lycée in secondary (so age 12). So that is my concern, as it's a gamble. So far it seems children coming from the free spots have gotten spots, but doesn't guarantee it further down the line, especially as it's very over subscribed as it is. Does that make sense? So benefits would be we save money now on my daughter's tuition (and my son's). But we wouldn't be guaranteed a spot later down the line.
That's nice the British Council organised some activities. Were you able to meet some new English speaking families? Or do you already know them all? How often do they organise these activities? Have you thought of getting something more regular going with the families that attends these? For example, making it a monthly thing.
It sounds like your daughter is doing well in reading! My son still struggles with this. He knows the phonics sounds, but doesn't seem to get them when stringing them together. What lessons are you using to teach your daughter?
Thanks for the tips everyone. I will check out Usborne. I love Usborne, as we use the English versions normally. I haven't thought about checking out if there are French options. As for encyclopedias for kids, I think it might be good for my daughter, but for my son I don't think he's quite ready. At the moment, he has a short attention span for French books and seems to favour short easy ones like Trotro. But I will get something for my daughter and see if he has any interest. I don't make him sit for the longer stories if he doesn't want to, as I get that he's younger and might not understand it all.
I have some big news, my son has won a FREE spot at his school, but it means he has to repeat the year. It's complicated, but basically, there are two ways to enter, the British side (which is FREE) and the French side, which costs 8.5 k a year (which is 12.5K USD a year). His birthday is October, which makes it tricky because the French system goes by calendar year and so he started one year before he would normally start. My concern is he's happy and has made good friends in his year. However, academically, he's not ready and repeating a year would be beneficial. Children in his class come and go anyway as it's an international school and lots of kids move back home or to different countries and new children come in. For example, this year two friends of his have already left to France and the other to the US. Taking the spot means we will save 60K in school fees and maybe 120K, as we would like to go for a third child! Or more, as my daughter would be entitled to get a free spot, which I'm not sure we would take, as it means we would not be guaranteed a spot at the French school for secondary, which starts after age 11.
What would you do? If we transferred her, we would save 40K on the rest of her school fees. We can afford to send her, however we could also use the extra money of course! It's a hard decision to make. All the kids so far have gotten spots at the secondary, but later down the line it can't be guaranteed so it would be a big gamble. Secondary school is important as it's a big way to ensure she stays bilingual.
Thanks for the advice, Alison. I agree, it's important for children to learn how to cope with these situations and, in fact, my daughter didn't seem bothered by it at all. It was more me being the mama bear and wanting to protect my child.
Yesterday, it was quite interesting in the park (for me anyway, lol). I saw a boy go over to my son and then I overheard my son ask him, "What languages do you speak?" The boy said he speaks French and a little English. He wanted to play with my son. My son responded by saying, "I speak French and English." The boy spoke English well enough to communicate and he kept speaking to my son in English even though my son told him he speaks French (but saying this in English, lol). I found this interesting because the boy kept hearing English so he kept speaking English and the same with my son. I then whispered to my son one word to say in French, which he did and then suddenly the boy responded in French and because he spoke French my son responded in French and then they started playing in French, lol.
It's really amazing to me and surprising when I suddenly hear my son speaking sentences. He's at the stage where he's fluent, but he doesn't know it. Half the time if I ask my son to say something he will say he doesn't know how. But then comes along the au pair or a child speaking to him in French and he always responds in sentences. He has also started watching French cartoons happily. This is a big step, as it shows he understands a lot more. He would complain before that he prefers to watch English. I usually let them watch English because of that, but I put on French cartoons at least 30 percent of the time. I think I will increase this to 70 percent!
We have started doing the weekly themes, but we kind of stalled on the first theme of foods. I think I will move on to the next theme. I'm wondering what theme to do next. What would be most beneficial to learn? House theme (learning the names of furniture and rooms of the house?) or perhaps family? Or locations (park, school, etc - although I'm sure they know these already). Any suggestions as to what would be most useful for my son to learn? My daughter seems to know most, but of course I'm sure I could find some words she doesn't know in the themes.
Yes, as Amy and Raquel mentioned, two days is not very long, so don't worry about it. At my daughter's school they go one whole week with the ml language (for some kids!). The kids that go an entire week with no French are the ones that come from English-speaking families that don't offer additional support. There are quite a few families that do this, but the kids manage to learn the language after 2-3 years. Also, as Adam and Amy suggested, cloning yourself is a great way to keep up the exposure when you're not available to do it. Or even playing music, if you have music available in the ml language.
That really is so lucky they allow your daughter to join for a day or two. I wish more schools were open to this. For example, if you're visiting a friend in their country and your child is the same age as their child, to join for a day or two would be great. Of course, only if your child is old enough and happy to do so. As I know some children might be too shy or if too young they might cry, etc. I would love to do this when visiting friends in France. But I suspect because our school is French bilingual they follow the same holiday schedule.
Nellie, that could be it. My daughter doesn't seem to notice it too much. It was more me worried how it could effect her. I will keep an eye and ear the next time they play and also make sure the au pair keeps a close watch. Sometimes they end up playing after school because the children all go to the same playground. But luckily many other kids from her class also go so she plays with them as well.
That's amazing the school allows your daughter to attend for a day! How lucky is that. I think the play date with the girl for a few hours will also be great for her, as more opportunities to talk because it's one on one. Sometimes, in a big group, less opportunity to practice talking, but she will of course get great exposure at the school listening and hearing all the children and the teacher speaking the ml language.
It's very interesting when children decide what language to speak with different people who are able to speak both the ML and ml languages. That's great her Grandpa also speaks the ml language! More opportunity for exposure when he decides to speak the ml language with her. My mother-in-law speaks some French and is able to read French, so my daughter likes to speak with her in French sometimes or have her read to her in French when they visit us. My children always speak English together. I wonder if they will ever decide to speak French to each other on occasion. Only time will tell!
Yes, I guess it could be that she just prefers to speak to her in English, as that is how she knows her. I'm not worried about my daughter's French ability, it's more of why this friend pretends not to understand her, as it's not nice. These girls are 6 and the friend usually seems very sweet. But it makes me wonder why she's doing this, as a good friend would give encouragement. I used to like my daughter to play with this girl, but now I might steer her away a little, as I'm worried why this girl would do this. I know they're just kids, but still, it's not nice.
On a positive note, today my children had a great day of play dates with French-speaking friends. My son spoke a mix of French and English with his friend, the one that is starting to speak English. It's amazing to see my son speak French in sentences as he plays. My daughter also spoke loads of French with the boys. She chooses to only speak French to them, as their French is much stronger then English and of course the boys understand perfectly everything she says. She also ended up playing with a French girl friend as well...who always understands her French.
I guess this is part of my issue with the previous friend I mentioned. All the other kids are very happy and encouraging to speak French with my daughter. So it concerns me that this one child tries to discourage it. Even though she sees that my daughter feels a little bad when she says she doesn't understand her. I guess it's the mama bear in me that wants to protect my children. Will just encourage friendships with the children who are positive and are encouraging.
How are you doing speaking to your husband in English?
Bad. There have been days when I've done okay and others when I say things in Spanish, then catch myself and repeat them in English. Oops!
If you've got any tips, let me know as it's my biggest stumbling block.
Back at you! I hope that, with time, we'll get used to it. What makes it harder for me than it is for you is that I feel limited speaking English while you don't. Other than that, we're on the same boat.
I'm curious about how you arrange it, and if you pay less as she is not babysitting because you're present. (If that's TMI no worries!)
Not at all! It's my two children and my nephew. My sister-in-law and I are the ones at home when she comes, so we do one place each week and have this woman play with the children in the living room or a different room while we try to stay away, but close enough to hear anyone crying or take care of anything they may need. It isn't cheap; they charge 20€/hour + 5€/hour extra per child, so that's 30€/hour for us. For 1.5h we pay 45€, 15€ per child.
It's so easily done if one is in a big city I imagine. Where are you in Spain?
In the biggest city: Madrid It isn't hard in Spain now that most public schools are bilingual and have 'teaching assistants', who are native speakers. Chances are there are a couple in your area and you can get in touch with them. The problem is when they're as high in demand as they are in Madrid.
I'm reminded, too, of the many precious memories I have of my own kids when they were small. I know I tried to appreciate those times, day by day, but still, it's like they grew up too fast and I can't help feeling a little wistful...
Awww. But you can still enjoy these times when they're a bit older, but still children, Adam. It's these kinds of comments you make that remind me of seizing the moment and make the most of the now, because it's gone before we know it.
I've been worrying lately about all the time my daughter spends using Spanish. I said before that she spends close to 40h in an all-Spanish environment with school and after-school classes, Monday-Friday. I think this week has been the worst when we met one of her best friends at the park on Tuesday after school, then Wednesday we came across one of her classmates and spent all our time in the park with him. Finally, yesterday, when picking her up from school, all her friends' parents stayed longer, chatting, so we did too, while she played with her friends. It was past 6pm before we knew it! But this morning we had some free time and we played together: she was the teacher, I was one of the students, and we did all sorts of things, including lots of talking (yay!).
Yesterday's English homework went well, she did the first page of the dot-to-dot book I got, and it was a penguin!! So we spelled "penguin", all in capitals and all in Spanish -it was too long to do in English- but she wasn't interested in coloring, so she didn't. Her initial excitement is wearing off, so I'll have to come up with new ideas. But she hasn't complained and is happy to do what she's told, so I'm happy.
I found it! For some reason, when I clicked to read your updates, I must have clicked on an old page and read this, thinking it was your latest update. This is why my comments seem random in my previous post, but I was referring to this old post, which I thought was a new one. Not sure how this happened!
Yea, they just remind me and I play along. This was the same with our old au pair. Thankfully, they continue to believe and speak to her in French.
Today, my daughter had two play dates with friends that come from French-speaking families. The one in the morning, for some reason she always says she doesn't understand my daughter when she speaks French. This REALLY annoys me because I feel like she does it on purpose. My daughter will start speaking to her in French and the girl says she doesn't understand (when she speaks French so she should understand!). But they formed their friendship with English, so I'm wondering if this might be the reason. EVERY single other French person and friend understands perfectly everything my daughter says in French, so I can't believe this girl really doesn't understand what my daughter is saying. I felt bad for my daughter, because I worried that she got self-conscious about her French.
During the second play date, her friend understood everything my daughter said in French. I spoke with my daughter after the play dates and praised her for speaking French and explained that perhaps her other friend couldn't hear her properly or something because everyone understands her French etc. I wanted to give her encouragement to make sure she didn't feel shy about it. This is very strange to me, why this one friend constantly says she doesn't understand when my daughter speaks French, when everyone else (at least 10 other French speakers including adults and children, understand her perfectly well).
Ah, I thought your sister-in-law had interest because you mention how you and her were in the other room. So I assumed she had some part in arranging this with you for the English speaker. I didn't realise it was your brother. Good that your brother is interested and she is supportive, because it will be useful if the cousins also speak the ml language.
And strange, I scrolled up to find where I read about this, as it was in a post that you mentioned how you spent time with Spanish-speaking friends, which meant your children ended up speaking Spanish. But I can't find the post. Maybe it was an older post? Therefore, my comments seem random, but I was responding in reference to an old post possibly, as I can't seem to find it.
Well done on all your efforts! Try not to worry when your daughter uses Spanish, because this is unavoidable while living in Spain! Just keep up with all your efforts and it will be fine. It's great that your sister-in-law also shares the same interest. This is something the cousins can share and bond over. Plus they see that others are also learning/speaking the ml language, which encourages them and helps keep them interested. I wish my sister would also teach her children French! However, she's married to someone of a different nationality and will focus on another language.
And wow, that is quite expensive for someone just to play with the children while you're nearby. But it's important to get that extra exposure so well worth it!
Raquel , it's wonderful to see children learn to communicate with each other in order to play. It gives them incentive and they both have incentive for their language skills to develop. It's so funny, as these boys didn't play at all for half the school year and suddenly they play all the time with each other speaking a mix of French and English. I guess it took that time for them to learn the basic skills in the language to communicate.
My son is surprising us a lot lately by speaking loads of French in sentences. If I ask him to say something he will say he doesn't know how, which makes me think he doesn't know any French! Then he will suddenly bust out speaking LOADS of French sentences to the au pair. It's almost like if he has to think about it he can't remember. But when it comes natural he just speaks it. He reminded me again when I said something to the au pair that she doesn't speak English and she only understands French.
I am editing to add that my daughter has been doing lots of art this evening and speaking loads with the au pair, in ml of course. We have a tiny setback in that an ear infection has caused a slight loss of hearing. She has suffered from glue ear the past year and we almost got back to normal hearing function and now this has set her back. It causes her not to hear as well and she constantly asks me "What??" when I speak to her. I'm hoping her ear heals fast, as it's obviously very important for language to hear the words correctly!
I would start the play date at home and get them to play games that require them to speak. After an hour or two if they start getting bored or in need of something outdoors, take them out. There must be some places you could take them where it isn't so crowded. We live in London, but can still find some places the kids can play without other kids to distract from the language. For example, in our area that would be a sports area (where kids play basketball or tennis). There are many opportunities when it's empty or being used by only a few others (adults or kids that are too young)--basically, an ideal place for kids to run around and play without being distracted by other kids. Yes, occasionally other kids show up... We also have some parks that are empty. Do you live near a place the kids could play and explore? You could have a picnic and tell them to keep close enough for you to see them after the picnic, but they could play etc while you sit and watch.
I think this is quite normal at these Saturday language schools. I think it's good to keep sending him, but perhaps ask the teacher if there is a way to encourage the children to speak Russian with each other?
My daughter attends a French bilingual school and one week is taught in French and the other week in English. They don't enforce what language the kids speak with each other. It seems they speak a mix. I hear quite a lot of playing in French, but also English. We are an English-speaking family, but my daughter will speak French with her friends that come from French-speaking families. She has two friends that don't come from French-speaking families in her class and she will play with them in English. She says because they can't speak French.
In order for a child to speak a language they need to have a need. One of the reasons she responds in ml with your husband is because she knows he understands. If she was put in a position, say a summer camp with children who don’t speak the ml language, she would be forced to use the ML or be left out of the play. Or if she is left with the grandparents that don’t speak the ml language she will have to speak the ML language if she wants to communicate her wants and needs. This worked for my friend's daughter who until the age of 4.5 never responded to her father in French. She understood him but always responded in English. They sent her off to the grandparents for 6 weeks (they don’t speak English) and her cousins were there and also did not speak English. By the time she left she was speaking French and after her French switched on she then started responding to her dad in French.
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Mayken: I'm wearing my language police hat today - when I realized the movie my daughter was watching on the phone was in ML I told her to stop. I later asked her dad to remove all ML content from the phone. Screentime is ml only!
Mar 27, 2018 23:00:03 GMT 9
Amy: Right you are Mayken!
Mar 28, 2018 1:43:20 GMT 9
Marisa: Way to go, Mayken! That's the (bilingual) spirit
Mar 29, 2018 0:55:54 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Will check out your podcast interview on my next run!
Mar 30, 2018 23:24:37 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter brought home her ml report card (she gets a separate one from the regular report card at her bilingual school), and it's straight A's! (Better than her marks in ML on the main report card.) I'm so proud!!!
Mar 31, 2018 6:10:44 GMT 9
Amy: Gratuliere (Congratulations) Mayken!!
Mar 31, 2018 16:54:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Thank you, Amy! As a reward, we allowed her to purchase a big item from her Christmas money--a Playmobil house, with which she now plays in ml!
Apr 4, 2018 3:37:31 GMT 9
Amy: Reward all the way round . Bilingual education can be a virtuous circle
Apr 4, 2018 5:26:18 GMT 9
Nellie: What great news, Mayken!
Apr 5, 2018 4:36:26 GMT 9
Raquel: I totally missed this. Congratulations, Mayken!! You have reason to be proud
Apr 10, 2018 20:08:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks everyone! Today my daughter helped a classmate finish her ml homework just before school - all in ml. (My daughter had finished hers the day before at home.)
Apr 11, 2018 3:58:56 GMT 9
Raquel: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Adam. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending you a big hug from Madrid.
Apr 12, 2018 18:16:38 GMT 9
Marie: I am sorry to hear about your mother Adam. Thinking of you and your family.
Apr 13, 2018 4:25:21 GMT 9
Jana: What a beautiful tribute you wrote to your mother. Sending condolences from the SF Bay Area!
Apr 14, 2018 5:34:03 GMT 9
Kristin T.: I enjoyed reading your post about your mother. Those were some amazing photos to cherish forever. I am sorry for your loss. I know it's ever the more painful having been an expat so long. Take care & be kind to yourself.
Apr 16, 2018 2:24:35 GMT 9
Nellie: I'm so sorry to read about your mother Adam. She sounds like an incredible woman. Your friends across the world are thinking of you and your family!
Apr 17, 2018 0:50:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Thank you, everyone, for your warm expressions of sympathy on the loss of my mother. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me at this challenging time.
Apr 17, 2018 7:44:14 GMT 9