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Thread: Schooling - the French/English thing?

  1. #16
    Smart Canuck Jina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jina View Post
    I have a relative who sent her son to English school and her daughter to a French school and this is what happened. Although we all speak French when we get together, the son always speaks English and he does have an accent when he speaks French. When we speak French to him, he would reply in English. He's just no interested in speaking French at all. The daughter switches very easily, and speaks both very well.

    DH and I have already made our mind to send DS to French school, but will have his out of school activities in English. Being from a French background, and because we speak French at home, we would like our son to be fluent in French. Learning English and speaking it is not a problem when you have enough exposure with the language.
    So now we're having second thoughts lol
    We have a very good school less than 5 mins walk from home and it's an English Catholic that offers French Immersion. Would be very convenient especially that we plan on having our second kid the year DS starts JK. DH and I speak French so helping out with homework won't be a problem, and as speak French at home too.
    My concern is regarding high school and university/college. I was taught in both English/French, kind of French Immersion and I did alright at Uni. Subjects I chose during high school helped a lot and I didn't have to translate anything. I would certainly have had some difficulty if I went to a French Uni to do accounting when I did that subject in English at school, same for Maths. I was taught Maths in English. I do not know any of the terms in French and would have a problem helping DS with homework.

    So, does anyone have experience with French schooling (elementary and secondary) and then going to an English University/College for technical subjects like engineering/accounting/physics/etc? I don't think there's a problem with subjects like marketing/business/arts, translating is pretty easy (maybe I'm wrong here).

    I would like DS to be fluent in French, not necessarily doing his education in French. How fluent in French are kids in French Immersion? I think if DH and I speak French only at home, he will follow?

    He's quite bilingual now at 2. He goes to an English daycare where they teach some degree of French, like counting. He speaks both at home, some words in French and some in English.
    I'm just worried that he will stop speaking French if he goes to an English school, even if he does French Immersion.

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    my hubby and i are both very english but our daughter is going to a french immersion school. she loves it but has told us its nice to have the english because she doesnt fully understand all the french.

    i still think i want her in all english, i know for a fact if i did she would have straight a's. but my hubby insists she stays with it. he thinks it will be better for her in the future to know both languages
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    she is in grade two and can speak some very basic sentences, but reads french fairly well, and she knows individual terminology pretty well. her english reading is well above grade level. i think in the end she will have more of a basic grasp on french but that is because neither my bf or i speak french
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    The research is pretty clear, immersion programs don't produce fluently bilingual children/adults. You can't be exposed to a language for 35 or so hours a week 10months of the year and walk away being bilingual. And french immersion programs are not what they were when we were kids. Back then we didn't see a lick of english until gr 3 or 4. Now some schools even in kindergarden are getting english. Kids need to be immersed in the 2nd language. Obviously many many kids do extremely well in french immersion, but it generally speaking doesn't make for fluently bilingual children.

    Math is universal, be it in english, french or mandarin. I had lots of friends in university that did school in french but university in english. It's very very doable.

    It's a tough decision. We debated it heavily. I do not regret for one second putting my kids in french school. Eventhough the french school was way further away then the english school in our backyard!

    What end of Ottawa are you in? My son went to Seraphin-Marion until we moved.
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    I do not have the option of french school, but I think I will be putting my son in the french immersion program come SK. My biggest reservation is what impact it will have on math and science. I know that it will help his language (reading and writing) skills. The research I have read says that children in french immersion do not have lower grades than those in the english program. But I just keep thinking of my brother in law, who was educated in the french immersion program, and he is very strong in reading and writing, but has no clue when it comes to math and science. Probably just genetics?
    Last edited by LifeisBeautiful; Sat, May 26th, 2012 at 02:12 PM.

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    It isn't a light decision to make, as far as I'm concerned. Some people I know sent their children to Fr Imm. because they were bussed back and forth, and another told me she didn't want her child hanging out at the mall after school (which would have happened if they went to the school near their house). You have to also consider whether your child will ever need French; I live in SK and unless you want to work for the Feds, you hardly need it.

    Studies show that immersion students have a steep learning curve and they trail their English counterparts at least until grade 5-6 in maths and science. They do catch up, but if you don't have a motivated child who likes to learn, then you are in for some trouble. A former neighbour moved from Fr Imm to our school when she was in grade three and she really struggled (she was having a hard time with French, add to that the adjustment to English).

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    Smart Canuck alicia's Avatar
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    I haven't thought about this issue because we don't have kids, but as to the question from Jina about transitioning into university, that I have experience with. I have taken eight years of university chemistry, and while I was not transitioning between languages, I have seen the transition as both a classmate, first year tutorial leader and a lab instructor. For chemistry all the nomenclature is backwards. A simple example is "sodium chloride" in English turns into "chlorure de sodium" in French. While it might not seem a big difference, if someone has learned chemistry in French, and although they translate the words to English, the order is wrong and the answer gets a zero on the test. I have seen (great) students struggle from French Immersion to English university. It is hard to separate out how much of that is the general transition between high school and university, but I would consider whether your child will be going to post secondary in French or English. Just my two cents.
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    Smart Canuck Jina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Insane View Post
    What end of Ottawa are you in? My son went to Seraphin-Marion until we moved.
    We're in Barrhaven

    Quote Originally Posted by alicia View Post
    I haven't thought about this issue because we don't have kids, but as to the question from Jina about transitioning into university, that I have experience with. I have taken eight years of university chemistry, and while I was not transitioning between languages, I have seen the transition as both a classmate, first year tutorial leader and a lab instructor. For chemistry all the nomenclature is backwards. A simple example is "sodium chloride" in English turns into "chlorure de sodium" in French. While it might not seem a big difference, if someone has learned chemistry in French, and although they translate the words to English, the order is wrong and the answer gets a zero on the test. I have seen (great) students struggle from French Immersion to English university. It is hard to separate out how much of that is the general transition between high school and university, but I would consider whether your child will be going to post secondary in French or English. Just my two cents.
    That's my main concern. Dh and I have british nationality, but we speak French mostly. We would love DS to be fully bilingual and be able to talk to his grandparents and other relatives that do not speak English. DS will have the option of studying in England should he wish and benefit from the great universities there. I'm just stuck on the thought of him not doing great with the transition from French to English.

    Maybe we'll send him to FI JK and see how he does until Elementary. If all goes well, and he speaks French until grade 8, we'll send him to an English high school then he won't have to do any transition to university. He would still be speaking French at home, then maybe have him do some activities in French?

    Does speaking French exclusively at home make him fluent? Just wondering as I know chinese parents who speaks only chinese at home and their kids learn English at school. These kids speaks well chinese. It's the same for almost all asian families.

    I would love to hear more from those who went to French high school and English University. Or did they find their options limited when it came to choosing a University and had no choice but to choose a French University or choosing a field only based on the fact that it was easy to switch?

    We're worrying and stressing a lot but at the end, DS might not even choose to go to university LOL.
    Last edited by Jina; Mon, May 28th, 2012 at 12:25 AM.

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    Smart Canuck Jina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LifeisBeautiful View Post
    I do not have the option of french school, but I think I will be putting my son in the french immersion program come SK. My biggest reservation is what impact it will have on math and science. I know that it will help his language (reading and writing) skills. The research I have read says that children in french immersion do not have lower grades than those in the english program. But I just keep thinking of my brother in law, who was educated in the french immersion program, and he is very strong in reading and writing, but has no clue when it comes to math and science. Probably just genetics?
    The English Elementary school school near home does Maths in English (great!), but science in French (not too keen on that)

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    Many British unis require a second language to GCSE as part of thier entrance requirements.

    Being immigrants to Qc, we are having to educate our 3 in French schools. We are lucky in the fact we have got them into a good, private, elementary and now Penguinette 1 is in a good high school.

    we are able to suppliment their English edumaction as we can divide the subjects between us. Mr Penguin can do maths and physics, we can both do chemistry and I can help with history, geography, religion, biology and english..


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    I'm in southern Ontario where we have full english, full french, and french immersion schools (in public and Catholic flavours) all available in our board. I've taught in everything but the full-french schools but know people who've sent their kids there.

    In my experience, again not living near Ottawa or Quebec so will be very different, is that immersion kids don't end up any more fluent than the kids who just have the core French classes, so if your goal is to have a completely fluent bilingual child your best bet is to have them in a full French school.

    However, you need to see it through all the way. I know so many families who put their child either in immersion or full french for elementary then sent them to a full English high school and their skills in English were way behind, especially their writing. Once in university I'm sure the kids even out (and probably wouldn't pick an English class anyways).

    I agree it's a benefit for a child to be bilingual, and in Quebec or Ottawa, the best 2nd language is obviously French. But where I live people can get equally as far in their work speaking another language other than french, I don't think full french or immersion is that crucial. I speak 4 languages, and I'd almost rather DD be fluent in Japanese like me or even Mandarin, they're both as useful as French outside of Ottawa and Quebec, especially considering the changing business world.

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    Smart Canuck Jina's Avatar
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    I've never really done some research about the full French schools, but do they have like an English Immersion or something similar where some subjects are taught in English given the choice?

    Kids who went to full french schools, how good are their english writing/reading skills?

    Sorry for all the questions. DH and I were taught in a different way in a different country. We went to English Catholic schools where we spoke French with friends and teachers but most of the subjects (maths, science, business, etc) were taught in English. We only started to speak English fluently when we went to English Universities, then settled in the UK and Canada.

    Ideally, we would like DS to go to French School but with subjects like Maths and Sience be taught in English. Maybe we could compensate that with programs like Kumon or Mathnasium? but that would be additional stress and pressure on DS.

    I haven't checked the requirements for English Universities yet.

    This is such an important decision we'll have to make and it's stressing me out.

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    At the elementry school the Penguins attend, English immersion is a 1 day long lesson, in which there's reading writing and oral studies. Depending on the teacher, there are crafts on the theme but generally science and maths are taught in French.

    At Penguinette 1's high school, she has 10 75 min lessons over a 18 day schedule. Again science and maths are taught in French.

    How it works in other schools in the area, I'm not sure.


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    Canadian Genius Insane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jina View Post
    I've never really done some research about the full French schools, but do they have like an English Immersion or something similar where some subjects are taught in English given the choice?

    Kids who went to full french schools, how good are their english writing/reading skills?

    Sorry for all the questions. DH and I were taught in a different way in a different country. We went to English Catholic schools where we spoke French with friends and teachers but most of the subjects (maths, science, business, etc) were taught in English. We only started to speak English fluently when we went to English Universities, then settled in the UK and Canada.

    Ideally, we would like DS to go to French School but with subjects like Maths and Sience be taught in English. Maybe we could compensate that with programs like Kumon or Mathnasium? but that would be additional stress and pressure on DS.

    I haven't checked the requirements for English Universities yet.

    This is such an important decision we'll have to make and it's stressing me out.
    My kids go to French school. The only english they get is english class. There is an ESL program at school but they've never needed it as their english is fine. I shouldn't say that actually....they don't start english until gr3 and my daughter isn't in gr3 yet! My oldest is in gr5 and is fluently bilingual. We speak both at home, although more and more it's english. The foundations for reading, writting, math, science, arts, ect.... is the same be it in english or french. I honestly wouldn't worry about university just yet for your kindergardener. Think about what is best for your family and what will give him the best challenge. I know many francophone families who sent their kids to english school...so that they would be exposed to english since they didn't get a lot of it at home!

    Go and speak to the schools you are considering. We did. I met with the principal, talked about the curriculum, the support, class size, ect... It helped. What sealed the deal for us was being able to get my son into the daycare attached to the school so we wouldn't have to worry about getting him to daycare in the afternoons. I think if you go into the school and meet with the staff and see the schools, you'll feel better about your decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jina View Post
    I have a relative who sent her son to English school and her daughter to a French school and this is what happened. Although we all speak French when we get together, the son always speaks English and he does have an accent when he speaks French. When we speak French to him, he would reply in English. He's just no interested in speaking French at all. The daughter switches very easily, and speaks both very well.

    DH and I have already made our mind to send DS to French school, but will have his out of school activities in English. Being from a French background, and because we speak French at home, we would like our son to be fluent in French. Learning English and speaking it is not a problem when you have enough exposure with the language.
    I totally agree with you. I came from a former Soviet country where Russian language was mandatory. Though in all Soviet countries you had your own choice to send your child to either your native-language speaking school or to a Russian one, but I am so thankful to my parents that they sent me to Russian school.

    Yes, here things are a little different, because my parents are very fluent both in Russian and in their mother tongue but anyway, as for me, I grew up with excellent knowledge of both my mother tongue and Russain, could enter the University with excellent marks on both languages and had no problems finishing the University with very high marks. But I can't say the same things about many of my friends who were in native-language schools: they always had many difficulties with Russian Grammar.

    What I wanted to tell you, if I were you, I would consider, if French is usable more as official language in Ottawa, and in the future, if he could go further in his career being fluent in French and English (because I don't know about way of living in Ottawa).

    If the answers to the above mentioned questions is "yes" then I would take my son to French school if I lived in Ottawa. He would be definitely fluent in English (after all, we are in Canada, and English is used everywhere (as my parents thought the same thing about my education in my home country, and I'm so thankful them for that), but being fluent in French would help him much to have success in his career.

    Yes, that will be difficult for you with his homework, but that's is temporary, believe me. Your son will be more excited and happy to do homework with you, and you'll learn so much from him. French is the language which is somewhat similar to English. Even I understand this language, when I read (and I don't know French at all) (so many similar words), and I even helped my cousin's daughters to do their homework when I was in Montreal.

    P.S. My parents don't know English at all but as a foreign language I studied English at school. But my parents leanrt English with me, and we had much success in that. Again I understand that all his homework will be in French, not only French, but French Math, Science... But... if knowing fluent French gives your son more career opportunites in the future in the city you live so that's worth taking that challenge because only in French school he will be fluent in both French and English (unless he does not take additional French lessons if he studies in either English school or French immersion one but still that's quite different from being at French School and studying French there). And I tell you that as a linguist. But, of course, this has to be your own decision, I only express my opinion
    Last edited by Mia; Thu, May 31st, 2012 at 01:07 AM.
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