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Hi All,
I'm new to the Forum. I've been offered an expat assignment (3-5 years) in Lyon with my company. Only hesitation (other than not speaking French - yet!!) is that we have 2 daughters, ages 13 and 11. We just moved a year ago for my job and are now being asked to move again so I worry about the disruption to my girls (and my spouse). Has anyone moved to a new country with older kids? Please help me by sharing your do's and don'ts. I want to make the best decision for my family.

Thank you.
Jennifer
 

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Mine were 11 and 13 when we moved to Spain. From my experience (I know all kids are different), I personally wouldnt put them into state school and try to get them to intergrate, I think that by the time they hit their teens its too late for that. Put them into an International school where it will be english spoken and familiar

Young teens are difficult anyway, when we first moved to Spain we had a good few weeks of tears and moods cos they wanted to go home, missed their mates, life etc. but after a about 3 months they settled and made frineds here. We've been here 18 months now and neither of them want to go back to the UK and are happy!!!

Jo xx
 

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Thank you, Jo, for sharing your experience. My company will pay for the girls to attend an international school so that's a definite plus, since they don't yet speak French. Did you do anything special to help them deal with the idea of moving to a new country? Did you visit before making the decision or before the big move?

Regards,
Jennifer
 

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Thank you, Jo, for sharing your experience. My company will pay for the girls to attend an international school so that's a definite plus, since they don't yet speak French. Did you do anything special to help them deal with the idea of moving to a new country? Did you visit before making the decision or before the big move?

Regards,
Jennifer
Yes we did, but only once. Of course we were only moving from the UK to Spain, I suspect if you're in America it wont be so easy to just "pop over" to show them. I guess we went down the "bribery and corruption" route, we rented a house that had a big swimming pool and was nicer than the house in the UK, so they loved it when they saw it. We took them to see the nearby beaches and amenities, we promised a quad bike, horse riding lessons...!! So Whether thats the right or wrong way, it helped. However I shall never forget the first night at our new home in Spain. They both sat down and burst into floods of tears cos they wanted to go home, they were inconsolable and I felt so guilty, but as the weeks went on they gradually settled. They're fine now and happy, altho I do still, even now wonder if we did the right thing to take them away from everything that was familiar to them???


Jo xxxx
Jo xxx
 

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I don't have kids of my own, but I can tell you I went through the tears and screaming phase for a while myself when I first came to France. :frusty: Be honest with the girls - it can be a little rough at first. (For you, too.) What you need is a sense of humor, the ability to laugh at yourself (I know, tough for teens) and a sense of adventure.

But, it's "only" for 3 to 5 years, and believe me, when you go back, they'll be the envy of every kid they ever knew or will meet at that point (most grown ups, too).

Attending the international school is also a big plus. Everyone there is in the same boat - they're living in a country that isn't "back home" so there's kind of an automatic bond you won't get in the French public schools. (Among the adults, too, you'll find it easier to bond with other foreigners, if only to comment to each other on "why do the French do that?" Doesn't mean you shouldn't make the effort to meet the locals, but it really helps to have a "peer group" to fall back on.)

I like Jo's approach of "bribing" them - try to find stuff they'd like to do. If they're shoppers, promise them a few shopping runs up to Paris. By TGV, it's a short ride (and train fares in France are cheap!) so you could conceivably make a day trip.

Or make the run down to Nice and all the fancy stuff on the Côte d'azur - not to mention the beaches. If they like to ski - you're very close to the Alps and some of the best skiing in the world, including cheap ski lessons for kids their ages.

They'll still have access to their friends back home via Skype, Facebook, e-mail and whatever else.

The disruption to your spouse is another issue, though. Unless your company can arrange something for him, chances are he'll have a tough time getting a work permit. Obviously, it depends on what line of work he's in, but some trailing spouses have been known to "telecommute" from Europe - it's not entirely legal, but he wouldn't be the first to do it and get away with it.

You may want to contact The American Club in Lyon American Club of Lyon (France) for information, especially concerning trailing spouses. They are an active group and can really help get you settled in.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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I agree about international schooling at that age. It can work out well at a state school, but it's a gamble, and one that depends a lot on the girls' personalities. Outgoing and bright children stand a far better chance of settling in quickly, and the language comes far more quickly in an environment where there is no other choice! It's a certain route to being virtually bilingual within a year.

I've seen kids aged 9 and 10 fit in well at state primary schools, but another problem is that if they get behind academically they end up having to "redoubler", ie redo the same year. The French system goes in for this a lot. Some of the slower children may end up in classes two years their junior by the time they reach their mid-teens. Plenty of French kids in that situation.

So on balance, I would opt for the international schooling, where children find pals who are in the same boat as themselves, and even if fluency in French comes more slowly, they still pick up the language vastly more quickly than their friends at school in Anglophone countries.
 
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<<< altho I do still, even now wonder if we did the right thing to take them away from everything that was familiar to them??? >>>

If kids aren't exposed to new experiences, whether or not they want to be, how else are they going to learn to fly when they finally get kicked out of the parental nest?


....and as Bev says, if they want to keep in touch with people in the uk, there's all manner of devices on the internet. Ask them what the difference is in sending an email from one side of town to another, and sending it from one end of Europe to the other.

<caveat> I'm very old school, I still believe in kids leaving home as soon as reasonably possible to support themselves, and I know it's an unfashionable viewpoint.
 
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<<< altho I do still, even now wonder if we did the right thing to take them away from everything that was familiar to them??? >>>

If kids aren't exposed to new experiences, whether or not they want to be, how else are they going to learn to fly when they finally get kicked out of the parental nest?


....and as Bev says, if they want to keep in touch with people in the uk, there's all manner of devices on the internet. Ask them what the difference is in sending an email from one side of town to another, and sending it from one end of Europe to the other.

<caveat> I'm very old school, I still believe in kids leaving home as soon as reasonably possible to support themselves, and I know it's an unfashionable viewpoint.
Interesting MtC, I'm in two minds about this. There's definitely something to be said for the broadening of horizons, discovering new cultures, new outlooks, at an early age. I'm sure it helps them to be both more worldly-wise and more tolerant of differences.

On the other hand, you grow up without roots, nowhere to really call home. Certain people handle this very well, some less so. The long-term effects aren't really seen until adulthood.

On balance though I agree - my kids have been moved all over and I feel reasonably happy about their development. I definitely see a difference in their understanding of the world, and that of many local kids who have barely left the department so far in their young lives.
 

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Teenagers in France

Hiya
We moved here when my daughter was 12. She had no French "dans sa bouche", but when I and my partner came over to view the property, I also visited the state school here and asked how/if they could integrate her. They couldn't fall over themselves fast enough ..... She entered the right class for her age (5ieme) and instead of English lessons, had French lessons with one of the other English teachers. She held her own throughout - albeit with minor and ongoing hiccoughs along the way as she missed out on basic French grammar as taught in the Ecoles Primaires, but she passed here Brevet along with her classmates and with decent marks 3 years later so the "sink or swim" worked for her. She has now also passed her Bac with Option Internationale Anglaise having atended a Lycee in Clermont, but the course administered by the Academie of Lyon.

As a base, I think you'll find Lyon one of the most Cosmopolitan and welcoming areas in France. The well-reputed State schools there are incredibly well equipped for non-French speakers and many of them have Sections Internationales, so I would explore that route first. It of course depends on your kids as to where you think would best suit them.

If you do consider International School, there is a fantastic one which falls under the Lyon Academie but which is just outside Geneva. When I have a moment I'll see if I can find the website for you.

I'm also of the mind that opportunities for kids are a treat and not a punishment, and I would just grit my teeth and be prepared for the flak you will undoubtedly get from time to time from them.

Good luck
Hils
 

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Kids adjusting...

I have an 11 year-old son and we moved Wales just a few months ago to live with my husband. I had a lot of anxiety about him adjusting and I feared the worst but much to my surprise, he's been just fine. Better than fine, really. I think we forget just how resilient and adaptable kids are. I kept a positive attitude towards the whole move and while cultural differences was a frequent topic, I always made sure to put a humorous spin on it. As I'm sure you know, kids are quick to adopt our attitude about things so I always try to present our new life as an adventure. We also realized that while you can read about different countries/cultures, it really doesn't compare to experiencing the differences in person, especially for an extended period of time. When I think about him as an adult and being able to look back on and share all the different places he's visited and lived, it seems to me he'll have a huge advantage with his broader perspective of the world and the people in it.
 
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One other point in general - not just applicable to France.

If a kid is truly fluent in two or more languages by the time they leave home, the world is their oyster. They have the key to s-o-o-o-o many more opportunities.
 

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Lyon is perfectly OK for Foreign kids,

- if you can afford Cite Scolaire Internationale (International school), which has an international curriculum and delivering French and foreign degrees. Cité Scolaire Internationale de Lyon
- you children will immediately make friends, in all sorts of European and non-European languages
- as said above there is a lareg expat community in Lyon and surroundings
- I have seen worth place to live (in fact, it would ratehr be a nice place indeed)

My humble advice: share your choice of life/work experience with your children before moving , take their remarks and fears into consideration, give them ample support and tlc, insist on your confidence in them to adjust, ....

good luck
 

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Immersion!

Um...well, I have to say that I'm a little horrified. So many people are talking about international schools and worrying about their kids' well-being in a new country, but you are not taking any pertinent facts into account. There is some solid information out there which is much more dependable than gut instinct!

First, read the book called [book advertising removed]. There is an enormous body of information there on moving/sending children to foreign countries, along with interviews with dozens of young people who have actually been expatriated either temporarily or permanently through either exchange programs or from their parents moving to a new country. The book is very recent and completely up to date.

Next, consider some of the benefits that you will be denying your child by sending them to an international school. They will not get any language immersion, they will not get any cultural immersion, and they will not make friends from their new country of residence. When I went to France at 18 (much too old, but still a viable example), I was dumped headlong into the language and culture. Within a couple of weeks my light textbook French was practically fluent and I knew all the local cafes and past-times. In addition, I had friends in school and all over town and had lots of people to spend time with, some of whom are still close friends to this day.

Imagine if I had just gone there to hang out with a group of Americans in an English-speaking school. Imagine if, rather than attending a French school, I had attended a school full of people trying to avoid the French language and culture. I would have been horribly shortchanged. In fact, I would have been stuck in a foreign country without ever getting the chance to make it less foreign! I would have been in a virtual prison! It would have been a horrible experience.

Your children will cry. They will be frustrated. They will do horribly in a French school -- for a couple of months. After that they will settle in and begin to excel and enjoy the new language, culture and friends. Within a year, they will be having the greatest time of their lives, and they will never stop thanking you for it.

If you are afraid to do something for you children because it will be "hard" on them, you may not understand the meaning of the word. There is a difference between going running (hard but productive) and getting shot in the leg (hard but traumatizing). Being plopped into a foreign but friendly culture is productive, no matter how many tears there are in the first few months. It will be nothing more than cultural soreness, and your children will be much stronger for it.

Your children will be set up to have wonderfully rich and fulfilling lives, and it will be worth three months of sore psyches (and the occasional temper-tantrum). Immerse your children! Please! For their own sakes!
 
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Um...well, I have to say that I'm a little horrified. So many people are talking about international schools and worrying about their kids' well-being in a new country, but you are not taking any pertinent facts into account. There is some solid information out there which is much more dependable than gut instinct!
I think that you will find, when you take the trouble to find out a little more about the posters who are regular contributors here, that some are speaking from considerable personal experience, and many years in France raising bilingual kids. Certain posters were not, I am sure, just relying on "gut instinct".

One just doesn't - or shouldn't - pigeon-hole all kids into a 'let'em have it tough, it'll do them good in the end' box, and hope for the best. Thoughtful parents take account of a number of factors - personality, age, ability, and the child's personal wishes and fears being just a few.

One of mine went to a lycée international (French state version), and had bilingual lessons there (so the French immersion comment you made is not accurate). Two others, with more outgoing personalities, went to state schools. All ended up equally bilingual.

Certain international schools have plenty of French students, so there is ample opportunity to mix with locals. In some respects exchanging views within an international community is a beneficial experience, teaching tolerance and a broader outlook on the world than one might find in a local French school with more parochial attitudes and understandings.

It's not a matter of just bunging them in the deep end with a sink or swim attitude. That will work with some, but can do considerable harm to others. It is an important decision for the children concerned, a touch more complex than proclaiming "immerse your children!", and very different at say 14 years old to the personal experience that you mention, aged 18.
 

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Um...well, I have to say that I'm a little horrified. So many people are talking about international schools and worrying about their kids' well-being in a new country, but you are not taking any pertinent facts into account. There is some solid information out there which is much more dependable than gut instinct!

First, read the book called The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost. There is an enormous body of information there on moving/sending children to foreign countries, along with interviews with dozens of young people who have actually been expatriated either temporarily or permanently through either exchange programs or from their parents moving to a new country. The book is very recent and completely up to date.

Next, consider some of the benefits that you will be denying your child by sending them to an international school. They will not get any language immersion, they will not get any cultural immersion, and they will not make friends from their new country of residence. When I went to France at 18 (much too old, but still a viable example), I was dumped headlong into the language and culture. Within a couple of weeks my light textbook French was practically fluent and I knew all the local cafes and past-times. In addition, I had friends in school and all over town and had lots of people to spend time with, some of whom are still close friends to this day.

Imagine if I had just gone there to hang out with a group of Americans in an English-speaking school. Imagine if, rather than attending a French school, I had attended a school full of people trying to avoid the French language and culture. I would have been horribly shortchanged. In fact, I would have been stuck in a foreign country without ever getting the chance to make it less foreign! I would have been in a virtual prison! It would have been a horrible experience.

Your children will cry. They will be frustrated. They will do horribly in a French school -- for a couple of months. After that they will settle in and begin to excel and enjoy the new language, culture and friends. Within a year, they will be having the greatest time of their lives, and they will never stop thanking you for it.

If you are afraid to do something for you children because it will be "hard" on them, you may not understand the meaning of the word. There is a difference between going running (hard but productive) and getting shot in the leg (hard but traumatizing). Being plopped into a foreign but friendly culture is productive, no matter how many tears there are in the first few months. It will be nothing more than cultural soreness, and your children will be much stronger for it.

Your children will be set up to have wonderfully rich and fulfilling lives, and it will be worth three months of sore psyches (and the occasional temper-tantrum). Immerse your children! Please! For their own sakes!
I'm sure you mean well, but I'm sorry I really resent anyone telling me what is best for my children. There are only two people who know that, my husband and myself! I take my children and their upbringing very seriously

I suspect every parent reading your post will say the same, it doesnt matter how well documented, studied or polled any of it is. What matters to me is "my" children. Not the kids you mention, or, with respect yourself!

As it happens, I did send my daughter to a state school for 6 months and she mixed with the other british children there because the local Spanish children wouldnt have anything to do with her or the other British, mainly cos the other british children were rather unruly and disruptive. In fact my daughter didnt really get on with the British children either and we had tears and tantrums every night. I guess we could have held out and she eventually may have made friends with one or two of the other british children and become as unruly and disruptive, she may have even picked up the language well enough to understand her lessons.

I now have my daughter in the international school with my son. They love it, they are flourishing. They have friends of all nationalities there cos their classes are 50% spanish and 50% others, so they're picking up the language really well and are now confident, happy and now have high expectations of their futures which dont include settling down in Spain or the UK for that matter, they wanna travel the world!!!

I'm really proud of them and I think that International school has certainly "upped" mine and their expectations! I wouldnt have it any other way.

Besides, the original poster was only planning to stay in France for 3 - 5 years with a 13yo and 11yo. What happens then????

Jo xxx
 
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As for the hype-filled, self-promotional soundbite claptrap on the website of the aforementioned book... example :

We also help those who have read the book and want to get customized assistance from us directly. We don't believe you need loads of advice and we are committed to keeping this simple and affordable.

We offer a $99 KickStart Call--

a 30-minute phone conversation or G-chat to help you and your student figure out the smartest education design plan--and get bold enough to take the next step! Learn more here)
I would probably be able to get more information from an astrology phone-in line on how to raise my kids.

Beats me that people actually believe this nonsense, created as much as anything to make a vast amount of bucks in the shortest possible time from the credulous.
 

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For starters, I have worked with kids my whole life. I have worked with kids academically and in extracurricular activities (soccer coaching, etcetera). I have generally worked with kids from ages 8 through 15, so I don't have a huge amount of experience with the small children or the 16+ crowd. I have worked with healthy kids and I have worked with emotionally troubled kids, up to and including children suffering from some of the milder forms of autism. My statements are based on a combination of professional training and personal experience.

To those who think I'm trying to "tell you what is best for your own children," I think that is an extremely unfair characterization. This is specifically to Jojo. I don't know to where in Spain you moved, but every place is different. There are plenty of places in this world where I would certainly choose to send my daughter to an international or otherwise English-speaking school rather than sending her into the general population. I was not criticizing you, and I should have specified that my comments were not targeted at those who have made such decisions in other places: my comments were in reference to France, specifically. If they were moving to Argentina, for example, I would have no knowledge of the local education system or the level of public safety. In France, I know enough to recommend that immersion is the best option. I am not criticizing your parenting skills!

I will add, however, that if somebody criticizes my parenting skills, I am always happy to listen and to evaluate their thoughts rather than just having a full-blown emotional reaction. An aunt of mine pointed something out to me once that I should be doing differently with my daughter, and after considering it, I decided to take her observations to heart. It was a pretty direct criticism, too.

I'm not sure why the name of the book was removed -- I didn't realize we weren't allowed to reference books on this forum. I'll happily follow the rules -- I just didn't know. In this case I just happened to have read that book and thought it would be pertinent to the posters I was addressing. I didn't know the author had a web site. If your web site quote is accurate, they have obviously let the lessons of their book go to their heads.

I have cross-checked much of the information provided in the book and it all checked out, so if their web site reads like an astrology site, I'm afraid I have no knowledge of or comment about that. As far as I'm concerned, a book is like Wikipedia: I don't believe it until I've verified the facts for myself. If their website is packed with nonsense, I'll happily avoid it. The book contains no self-promotion whatsoever. It references the Rotary Club and some other private organizations and provides web addresses for them, and that is the limit of the promotion within the book.

I'm very sorry to have inflamed so many people. I'm a member of a handful of online and real-world communities, and I've never seen this sort of rancor for anything I've ever said before in my life. I must have been in too much of a hurry when I was posting and stated myself badly. It happens from time to time, and I am perfectly willing to admit when I've made a mistake (I follow my own advice on open-mindedness).

To anyone who feels that they have been personally attacked or affronted by my post, please accept my apologies. That was never my intention. I think that I was expecting a discourse on child development in foreign countries, and instead I was read to be directly criticizing the other parents on this thread. If you will forgive my impertinence in this instance, I will save my child development discussions for the psychology forums.

Thank you.
 

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For starters, I have worked with kids my whole life. I have worked with kids academically and in extracurricular activities (soccer coaching, etcetera). I have generally worked with kids from ages 8 through 15, so I don't have a huge amount of experience with the small children or the 16+ crowd. I have worked with healthy kids and I have worked with emotionally troubled kids, up to and including children suffering from some of the milder forms of autism. My statements are based on a combination of professional training and personal experience.

To those who think I'm trying to "tell you what is best for your own children," I think that is an extremely unfair characterization. This is specifically to Jojo. I don't know to where in Spain you moved, but every place is different. There are plenty of places in this world where I would certainly choose to send my daughter to an international or otherwise English-speaking school rather than sending her into the general population. I was not criticizing you, and I should have specified that my comments were not targeted at those who have made such decisions in other places: my comments were in reference to France, specifically. If they were moving to Argentina, for example, I would have no knowledge of the local education system or the level of public safety. In France, I know enough to recommend that immersion is the best option. I am not criticizing your parenting skills!

I will add, however, that if somebody criticizes my parenting skills, I am always happy to listen and to evaluate their thoughts rather than just having a full-blown emotional reaction. An aunt of mine pointed something out to me once that I should be doing differently with my daughter, and after considering it, I decided to take her observations to heart. It was a pretty direct criticism, too.

I'm not sure why the name of the book was removed -- I didn't realize we weren't allowed to reference books on this forum. I'll happily follow the rules -- I just didn't know. In this case I just happened to have read that book and thought it would be pertinent to the posters I was addressing. I didn't know the author had a web site. If your web site quote is accurate, they have obviously let the lessons of their book go to their heads.

I have cross-checked much of the information provided in the book and it all checked out, so if their web site reads like an astrology site, I'm afraid I have no knowledge of or comment about that. As far as I'm concerned, a book is like Wikipedia: I don't believe it until I've verified the facts for myself. If their website is packed with nonsense, I'll happily avoid it. The book contains no self-promotion whatsoever. It references the Rotary Club and some other private organizations and provides web addresses for them, and that is the limit of the promotion within the book.

I'm very sorry to have inflamed so many people. I'm a member of a handful of online and real-world communities, and I've never seen this sort of rancor for anything I've ever said before in my life. I must have been in too much of a hurry when I was posting and stated myself badly. It happens from time to time, and I am perfectly willing to admit when I've made a mistake (I follow my own advice on open-mindedness).

To anyone who feels that they have been personally attacked or affronted by my post, please accept my apologies. That was never my intention. I think that I was expecting a discourse on child development in foreign countries, and instead I was read to be directly criticizing the other parents on this thread. If you will forgive my impertinence in this instance, I will save my child development discussions for the psychology forums.

Thank you.

I think to walk onto a close knit forum without having read the original post and launch into an attack is not the best way to make friends and influence people! But never mind, we'll let you off, altho I'm not sure I can forgive you for quoting that dreadful book/website... whatever it was! I've never read such total rubbish in my entire life! LOL ;)

Anyway, welcome to the forum!

Jo xxxx
 

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I think to walk onto a close knit forum without having read the original post and launch into an attack is not the best way to make friends and influence people! But never mind, we'll let you off, altho I'm not sure I can forgive you for quoting that dreadful book/website... whatever it was! I've never read such total rubbish in my entire life! LOL ;)

Anyway, welcome to the forum!

Jo xxxx
Thanks. Yes, winning friends is sort of hit or miss with me, and I guess you can see why. :)

Website: dreadful, I agree. I didn't ever refer to it (or even know about it). Book: I still think it's very nice. If you have a chance to read the book and decide that it is still dreadful, then by all means, shout it to the heavens. :D To judge the book by the web site would be to judge the original Star Wars by Episode I, Or to judge Harry Potter books by the movies made after them. In every case the author has sold out, but I think you might like the originals.

Not that this makes me look any better, but I read every word of the original and every responding post before I spoke. So does that make me better or worse? :eek:

Thanks for the welcome and thanks for being a good sport. I promise that as time goes on, you won't hate me. It was just a bad first impression caused by an unlucky set of circumstances, my mouth chief among them.

:focus:

Just so that I'm saying something on-topic and to the original poster, if it makes a difference, the teachers I met in school in France were absolutely thrilled to have an American in class. The history teacher would eagerly ask for an American perspective on a lesson they were having and the English teacher had me do the homework backwards, translating the English into French. I was horrible at it, but it helped me improve.

Anyway, the point is that the students and teachers were generally thrilled with having me around, and given my propensity for saying stupid things (in multiple languages), you have to appreciate how much weight that carries. I hope that helps as you evaluate your options.

Jojo, how am I doing? Are we on a better tack?
 

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:focus:

Just so that I'm saying something on-topic and to the original poster, if it makes a difference, the teachers I met in school in France were absolutely thrilled to have an American in class. The history teacher would eagerly ask for an American perspective on a lesson they were having and the English teacher had me do the homework backwards, translating the English into French. I was horrible at it, but it helped me improve.

Anyway, the point is that the students and teachers were generally thrilled with having me around, and given my propensity for saying stupid things (in multiple languages), you have to appreciate how much weight that carries. I hope that helps as you evaluate your options.

Jojo, how am I doing? Are we on a better tack?
yeah, you're doing fine!!! However, I still dont agree that its the right thing for kids of those ages to go to a french school for 3 years with the assumption that after that they'll be back in USA!!!!

I do agree that young children (under 10) when they arrive in a foriegn country and are planning to stay in that country, should go to a state school (altho it depends on the school, there are bad ones over here) and become immersed and intergrated. But older kids I feel gain very little, certainly that was the case with my daugthter. When she left state school, my son who'd been in the International spoke much better Spanish than she did, even now, altho vastly imporved, he's almost fluent and has lots of Spanish friends!

Times have possibly moved on with International schools tho - well the one my two attend. Its very... well, International, there are lots of nationalities, including Spanish, its amazing how many spanish send their kids to an international school to pick up the language and education!!?

Jo xxxx
 
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