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Thread: Schooling - the French/English thing?

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    Smart Canuck ame555's Avatar
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    Quick background -- my husband and I met in Ottawa (bilingual centre!)-- he's a francophone from Montreal, I'm a very English girl from another part of Ontario. My husband struggled a lot with school, I did fairly well in school.

    8 years later our first child will be starting school in Sept 2012. My MIL insists my son goes to French School, and is putting so much pressure on my husband. I have no problem with him learning French, but I do have a problem with me not being able to help him in school.

    I want Immersion, as reality is it will be me helping with homework and not my husband.

    Has any English parents sent their kids to French school - how did you cope?

    I want to tell my MIL to get her nose out - but I want to do it as "nicely" as possible.
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    Mastermind Natalka's Avatar
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    We had this situation with Ukrainian, not French - but practically, the situation is similar.
    I am not fluent in Ukrainian, but husband is - and I would be the one helping with schoolwork - not that husband "wouldn't", but like you - I was being realistic...

    We ended up having him go to the Ukrainian bilingual program - and they have it set up so students are independent with the language - parents are not required to be Ukrainian speakers - and it worked really well. It was just handled so the majority of the Ukrainian schoolwork was done in school hours, and if there were any English subject homework, then that was fine to come home. Of course, he sometimes had Ukrainian homework in some subjects, but he was very good at handling most of it himself - if I couldn't help, it was no biggie to send him back to school with something not done... the teachers were awesome!

    So maybe for you a Core French program - or a Bilingual one (however it's termed where you live) would be better than going with immersion... just a thought.
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    Smart Canuck ninna's Avatar
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    This is a tough call for sure. Our kids are in the immersion program. In Ontario, this means they learn 70% of the time in french and 30% of the time in English. Neither DH nor I come from french backgrounds; in fact, my husband has absolutely none at all--he took the french second language course in grade 9 high school that we were required to take back then...and that was many moons ago. I took french in university--just enough to pass a proficiency test for one of the my degrees.

    Anyhoo-- there was supposed to be some major transitioning at our current immersion school which was going to involve moving and dispersing all the french immersion kids to different schools. (Currently our school is dual track--has french immersion kids and full day English kids in the same building) so we checked out the possibility of french first language school (french 100% of the time) because we thought, "if there's going to be major upheaval anyway, maybe this is the time to look into it."

    Well...LOL...we got rejected by the full french school because we didn't have a french background. DH was mumbling after about how he should've gone there himself and just told them I was french so the kids would get in. So the kids stayed in french immersion. I felt relieved the switch to full day french language didn't work out because I realized--who the hell does he think is gonna be helping with the homework? It certainly wouldn't have been him! The idea of helping with homework from a french first language school was totally stressing me out but I didn't realize till after we got rejected just how much it was weighing on me.

    The reality is that even with the french skills I have, there are times when I have to use wordreference.com in order to help my oldest daughter (in grade 3 and going into grade 4) with her french immersion homework. We speak 100% English at home so French all day would've been complete and total culture shock and exhaustion for them during the day and then for me when it came time for homework.

    I'm pleased with how things are turning out for us in the french immersion program. Will they be perfectly 100% fluent like the french first language school kids? Nope. But they'll be a heck of a lot closer than their English all counterparts will be.

    Honestly...these are YOUR kids. YOU are the one spending the evenings with homework. It's really great that your MIL has taken such an interest in the education of the kids--but she raised her own kids years ago and when she raised her own kids, she got to make the decisions. Now it's your turn. You have to do what YOU feel most comfortable with and not allow yourself to be bullied. If you do speak french at home and if your DH is able to assist with homework, then perhaps french first language school would work--but it will take a significant commitment on your part to be able to support the kids with homework if you're the only one helping.

    Believe it or not, if we'd listened to my MIL, our kids would've never set a toenail in a french school of any kind ever. We received absolutely zero support from DH's family for our french immersion decision. All of them kept doomsday saying how bad it was going to be, how foolish our decision was, how they were likely gonna fail and why would we subject our kids to failure etc.

    Well. I'm pleased to report that my kids are thriving in french immersion and it's taken a few years, but the MIL now BRAGS to others about what a smart decision that was. LOL.

    Good luck!
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    Smart Canuck vibrantflame's Avatar
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    Oh yes, I hear you, we've been having this discussion since our oldest was like a year old! Our stories are very similar, my husband is bilingual but spoke mostly French, his Dad's side of the family are all francophone from Quebec. I am very English from a small town in Ontario, was never taught the value of learning French, so I never learned it (at all, I was homeschooled until high school lol).

    I think the best thing you can do about your in-laws is to tell them politely, that it is a decision between you and your husband (and make sure your husband supports the decision if asked by his parents).

    For us, we will be starting our oldest in French immersion JK in the fall. Like others have said, realistically it will be me that will be doing the majority of helping with homework and such, it just makes sense. Plus, if they were in full French school, I would worry that they would come home speaking French and I wouldn't be able to understand them....yes, the solution would be for me to learn French lol but I'm finding that difficult.

    My initial solution to our problem was to have my husband teach the kids French, but that never happened lol

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    Canadian Genius anisa's Avatar
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    just nod and smile when mil brings it up.

    come september enroll your child where you want to.

    she'll be pissed for a while, but what can you do! she'll be pissed if you try to reason with her anyways.


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    I think the bigger issue here is your MIL's meddling and 'insistence' on anything that isn't to do with her own child. I'm sure it's probably not the first time. Do what you and DH think is right, refuse to be bullied into these decisions. Either nod and smile, or have DH tell her who is in charge. Good luck!
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    You are totally right, i cant relate because our oldest (6) and 2nd DD (4) will be going to Arabic bilingual program. I can undertand /speak/write only about 30% of the time and the rest i have no clue (and that too becuase i was born and stayed in an arab country till age 7) DH has almost no clue about arabic.

    It was my decision initially to put our kids in a bilingual program , and we dont speak arabic at home. I was totally overwhelmed by our 6 year old's grade 1 work!! but the teachers were AWESOME and she knows the same amount of arabic i know at this age.

    SO its really hard for kids to catch up the level of kids who do speak that certain language at home. Immersion will be hard on your kids at the beginning let alone putting them in an all french school. Its just not fair for your child to go through that shock and feel like they know less then someone when its not their fault.

    Go with your instincts, your kids matter the most and in the end if anything goes wrong they are going to look up to you for an answer as parents, not their grandparents. Dont stress over it, you are 100% right!
    Last edited by urouj862; Sat, Aug 13th, 2011 at 08:17 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalka View Post
    We ended up having him go to the Ukrainian bilingual program - and they have it set up so students are independent with the language - parents are not required to be Ukrainian speakers - and it worked really well. It was just handled so the majority of the Ukrainian schoolwork was done in school hours, and if there were any English subject homework, then that was fine to come home. Of course, he sometimes had Ukrainian homework in some subjects, but he was very good at handling most of it himself - if I couldn't help, it was no biggie to send him back to school with something not done... the teachers were awesome!
    Believe me, it wouldn't be handled with the same amount of flexibility in a French school in Ottawa. The only reason the OP's child would even be considered for the program is because her husband is French. She will be looked down on by the school community for not being able to speak it.
    That being said, it is a tough call because no one gets ahead in Ottawa without fluent French, so the more you can expose your child to it, the better. But really, from a practical standpoint, French immersion does seem like the best option here. I'm not just thinking from a homework standpoint, but it's important for parents to be involved in their child's school community and to be able to advocate for their child when necessary. That would be difficult in a French school.

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    Canadian Genius Insane's Avatar
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    So I'm originally from Ottawa, my oldest started French there.

    My husband did french immersion in Ontario (despite his father being francophone) and I did french immersion in Quebec. In Ontario (and in all provinces I think) you need to have French language rights (except Quebec where you need English language rights). Our children didn't hold French language rights as our education was seen as an english education. But my FIL is francophone and I was doing my master's in french, so we got approved for a variance. We were prepared to move to Quebec where no one would question us putting him in French. Now that my son is in French school, all my kids automatically have rights. But if your hubby did his education in french in Quebec, you kids would have french language rights.

    So, why put him in French? Because I wanted my kids to be FLUENTLY bilingual and it does not happen in French immersion. My FIL is perfectly bilingual. He can flip between either language seamlessly; and I wanted that for my kids. And they can. They go to french daycare, french school and are truly bilingual. But both my husband and I speak french fairly well (after doing doing my postsecondary education in french, I should hope I speak it! LOL) and homework has never been an issue. Once and awhile there is a word we don't know, but that's why they make dictionaries!

    Keep in mind too that the majority of homework in french immersion (including notes from the teacher) tend to be in French. The textbooks/workbooks they bring home will be in french. Many schools with french immersion programs offer parent french coruses.
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    Smart Canuck Jina's Avatar
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    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.
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    Smart Canuck nadiabreckon's Avatar
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    I am franco-ontarian, DH speaks very little french (only because I have been teaching him for the past 9 years). We have already decided that DS will be going to french school, NOT french immersion. If we have to pay for private school, than so be it. I went to french-catholic schoool when I was young, as well as french immersion in junior high, let me tell you, I was teaching the teachers! I came out of that school knowing nothing new, and my parents decided it was best that I move back with my dad in order to attend school in my hometown again.

    We still have a few years to go before we enroll DS in school, but it's still something we've been talking about for quite some time. That being said, our family has no say in what we have decided. Both of our families though, are thrilled that we have made this decision and believe it's important for DS to know both languages. Good luck!
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    Smart Canuck juniperjune's Avatar
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    Ugh, this is a VERY HOT political issue here in Quebec. I have the choice to send my children to either, as I was educated in English. If I send my children to French school, they loose the right to choose the language of choice for the education of their children. I DO NOT like the idea of a Government choosing for me. However, they are being raised in a bilingual household, and both languages are needed here. French written is much harder than English. I would want English, with French immersion. Best of all Worlds, maybe.

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    Canadian Genius Insane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juniperjune View Post
    Ugh, this is a VERY HOT political issue here in Quebec. I have the choice to send my children to either, as I was educated in English. If I send my children to French school, they loose the right to choose the language of choice for the education of their children. I DO NOT like the idea of a Government choosing for me. However, they are being raised in a bilingual household, and both languages are needed here. French written is much harder than English. I would want English, with French immersion. Best of all Worlds, maybe.
    Really? I thought you could claim English language rights if your grandparents had an english education. I was under the impression if I put my kids in French, my grandkids could still go into the english school in Quebec because I hold English language rights. But that's coming from my mom, so she could be wrong.
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    Smart Canuck juniperjune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Insane View Post
    Really? I thought you could claim English language rights if your grandparents had an english education. I was under the impression if I put my kids in French, my grandkids could still go into the english school in Quebec because I hold English language rights. But that's coming from my mom, so she could be wrong.
    Nope, I have the certification that I went to English school. My mother has it in her safety deposit box. I need to prove that at least one parent went to school in English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by juniperjune View Post
    Nope, I have the certification that I went to English school. My mother has it in her safety deposit box. I need to prove that at least one parent went to school in English.
    My mom has all our certifications too! I guess my grankids won't have it then though since we chose to send them to French school. Good thing grankids better be years and years and years and years away!
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