Keeping Your Child Bilingual With Roaming Schoolhouse
Are you an English speaker? Do you have children in the French school system? You may be asking yourself how they will be able to master both French and English. Roaming Schoolhouse is your resource for keeping a linguistic balance.
Derek Ferguson, the man behind the popular after-school activity program, gives us some basic rules you may want to adhere to if you have a child who is striving to be bilingual:
- If practical, speak only English to your child;
- Be consistent in your choice of language to your child. You may need to speak different languages in different situations, but you need to set the rules and stick to them;
- Travel as often as possible to a country where English is spoken;
- Meet other children and adults who speak English;
- Provide structured activities with other children through the medium of English;
- Try to use as many age-appropriate language materials as possible in English.
The first three of these rules place emphasis on you as parents. The latter three are where the Roaming Schoolhouse comes in. The success of the RSH, open only to children living with English and French, is based on three principles:
- Qualified primary school teachers who bring youth, enthusiasm, and new ideas to the classes of no more than 10 students where only English is spoken. Teaching is a profession, not a job, and their teachers are passionate about what they do and the children they teach;
- The program has been developed over the last five years and is based on the English curriculum. They cover the same subjects as would be covered by students of the same age in the UK and look at all aspects of “Anglo-Saxon” culture;
- The atmosphere in the classroom closely resembles that of schools in the UK and the US: the schoolhouse emphasizes teamwork, show and tell, and personal development. They prefer that a child enjoys learning and feels satisfaction of a job well done. For the children, this is an extra-curricular activity and, as such, you do not want it to become a chore.
While living in France, it is only natural for French to become your child’s dominant language. By spending an hour and a half in a structured school environment every week, your child’s English will be reinforced through stories, literature, discussion, music, and debate. Starting at CE1, RSH provides a literacy program using weekly spelling exercises. They are also a valuable support for those children applying for bilingual school programs in and around Paris. The RSH operates as a mobile school. They currently host classes of 90 minutes per week in Paris (7th, 10th and 18th arrondissements), Neuilly, and Antony. Do not hesitate to contact Derek to find out where centers are opening up near you.
If you are looking to keep your child a part of an English speaking environment sooner rather than later, Roaming Schoolhouse offers a dynamic summer camp over the summer holiday. They take over a school and provide full days in English including literacy, art, drama, science, sports, geography, and history. The theme for the Summer camp this year (10-13 July) will be “Fantasy Worlds”. The children will read classics of the genre such as Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Where the Wild Things Are, make their own fantasy maps, create newspapers, write their own fantasy stories, and even play Middle Earth duck, duck, goose!
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