Secondary School integration

Collège and lycée

After 11, moving to France is rather challenging, the reason is school.

At 11 in France the children leave primary school and go to « collège » (middle school, 11to 15).

Most of the children  need some help at some point. All the subjects may be difficult, not only French.

It is so so frequent that I help with both Maths and French !

Let’s have a quick view of the main difficulties a new arrival may find to adapt to the French « collège » (secondary education).

The teenagers often find History very difficult, because they discover completley the French culture, and missed all the curriculum of primary school. In addition they  have to write structured texts in French language, for their tests. The French Brevet (at 14, end of the 3ème form) consists in a range of documents that the student must analyse.

Mathematics : no need to move to a foreign country to find mathematics quite hard. We all know that not all the students manage well with maths ! Therefore the language and cultural barriers just come in addition to possible natural difficulties with the subject. But anyhow, in most cases the children have covered a different curriculum at primary school in UK or another country of origin, and were not really taught the metric system, which is a cornerstone of French learning . And when they move to France they do not understand enough of the language to understand new notions for at least a few months, if not one year. Therefore while they are still in the process of learning the language,  they miss the curriculum of many other subjects !  This does not help, and this is especially cruel for mathematics !

French : Although the children generally catch the language quite well and quickly, I’d like to insist on the fact that it does take  a long time to reach the level of native children with both spoken and written language !  French grammar is by no means obvious. No one can guess how the  rules for writing work ; the children must be taught.

French teachers are often quite tolerant with  foreign children up to 4ème form. Then everyone is supposed to write decent French in order to carry on his education. So it is only sometimes after 4 to 8 years spent in France that people realise their child really needs help with written French  ! This occurs when it is time for the teachers to mark the « non native » student like his French peers. The shock may be hard !