Are you living abroad or moving to another country soon?
Are you in a family where at least one of the two parents is of French or Francophone culture?
Are you worried that your child’s level of French will decline?
This article is for you !
With some 3.5 million inhabitants abroad for a total population of 67.4 million, France has one of the most international population in the world.
Concerning 1 in 20 French people, expatriation is indeed today a mass phenomenon that involves lifestyles that sometimes differ greatly from the metropolis.
Therefore, maintaining contact with the country of origin becomes a concern for many French citizens residing abroad, in particular with regard to their children, who sometimes have never even been to their “home” country.
However, history, culture, language … are necessary to one’s education and identity. Unfortunately, lack of opportunities, infrastructure or mere distance, can sometime cause expat’s children to miss out on their own country.
Indeed, despite the excellent network of French high schools around the world (a real French privilege), it is not always possible (or sufficient) to educate your children in a French-speaking system to guarantee a good level of mastery of their mother tongue.
And not being in full command of the language of their country can turn out to be a handicap in their future life: untapped potential, difficulties in undertaking administrative procedures or job search, poor communication skills… are a concern for expatriate parents willing to maintain a link with France and its language.
In order to help you, l’Atelier An Phu advises you on which solutions to use on a daily basis to guarantee a good level of French proficiency among expat families!
While it seems all the more obvious, let’s start here.
By living in a foreign country but being enrolled in a French-speaking establishment, your child will have the best chance of having a level equal to a little French in mainland France.
Of course, this choice will therefore be made to the detriment of an “international” education, even though in reality, foreign languages are often common in French establishments abroad.
Indeed, international French schools do not exclusively welcome its own citizens.
Many nationalities are represented and your child will communicate in other languages with his classmates and thus develop bilingual or trilingual skills.
Present in 136 countries with some 552 acknowledged establishments, French establishments abroad are the simplest and most effective solution to guarantee the good level of your child in his mother tongue.
And if you opt for another school system, out of necessity or personal choice, don’t worry, there are other ways to work on your child’s good level of French.
There are a plethora of remote learning courses for children, foremost among which are the CNED courses or the Legendre courses.
Very well constructed, following National Education programs and allowing a regular assessment of your child’s level, CNED correspondence courses are one of the best solutions for expats.
They have the advantage of being able to be taken at almost any time your child has a low time, and even for one hour a day, CNED lessons can be enough to maintain a good French level.
Indeed, if your child learns in “international” lessons the other fundamental knowledge (mathematics, history, sciences, etc.), he will “only” have French lessons to take home. This can be perfectly compatible with his schedule, especially in English or American systems where school ends around 3pm. Without overloading your child with too much work, arranging a few hours per week of CNED is therefore quite possible.
Depending on the age or autonomy of your child, supervision of the lessons might be necessary.
If you are available to do so, great. Otherwise, no doubt you will be able to find either other parents in the same situation who may be able to help you, or if your budget allows it, you can call on home tutors or even private “evening schools” » where your child can follow these courses by correspondence with professional supervision.
It’s no secret that reading is one of the best ways to enrich your child’s vocabulary and have them access quality content with impeccable syntax and spelling.
So from an early age, be sure to read stories in French to your child, to gradually push him to dig into the library himself.
Try to have a good variety of reading materials: stories, comics, novels, press… so that your child can go from one material to the next and make him want to practice his reading regularly.
This is the logical step that follows on from the previous suggestion.
Whether it’s to exercise his imagination by means of invention writing, to encourage him to keep a diary to build his personality, or to write letters and emails to send news to the family or friends, all means are good to encourage your child to write.
Make him read the first chapter of a book and have him continue the story, ask for short summaries at the end of a novel, dictate to him a shopping list… there are plenty of opportunities to sharpen the pen of your child!
This can be done “the old fashioned way”, using a good old sheet of paper and a pen, or by using more modern tools (tablets, computers, even applications dedicated to to writing).
Why not after all?
In reasonable amount and with the right content, television can be a great learning tool. It is no coincidence that kids from northern Europe excel in English: they are simply as much in contact with English-speaking programs that they are with Swedish, Finnish, and so on content.
Ideally, get access to subtitled programs or services.
Your child will then be able to associate words and phrases with sounds and speech!
Whether you use dedicated cable channels, a video on demand subscription or content from internet platforms, it doesn’t matter, just make sure to once again vary the content: movies, cartoons, shows, debates, documentaries… there’s value to be found everywhere!
Holidays in France
If it is possible for you of course, try to spend an annual vacation in the motherland for an intensive course!
On the spot, multiply activities and interactions so that you kid is well immersed.
Enroll him in activities at a cultural or sports center with other children of his age, and practice leisure activities as a family.
- Refrain from mixing multiple languages at once while expressing yourself! When living abroad, one can be tempted to borrow words or concepts that do not belong to their original language. Try your best to kick this habit to avoid confusion for your child.
- Always speak the same language with them. In a family where several languages are spoken, try to separate the mother’s and the father’s languages, so that each one transmits its own tongue to the kids.
- Do not hesitate to correct your child’s mistakes. It is completely normal to make him repeat the right way of saying things so that he learns them.
Do you live in Ho Chi Minh and want to organize French lessons for yourself or your children?
Contact Atelier An Phu now!