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foreign language tuition for an already bilingual child
Thread poster: frederique sannier-lowry

frederique sannier-lowry  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
English to French
Apr 3, 2009

Hi all,
My 4 year old daughter was brought bilingually. We live in France and English lessons will be compulsory when she starts primary school. I was wondering if this could do any 'damage' to her level of English, added to the fact that she will obviously be bored and will waste her time. I am very tempted to ask for a dispensation - if possible - but I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject first. Pros and cons ?
Thanks.
Fred


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 15:01
German to English
+ ...
school Apr 3, 2009

school is about socialization, not about learning

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Trinh Do  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2007)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Foreign lang. tuition for a bilingualual child Apr 3, 2009

I feel your child will be definitely 'bored' if the level of English is so elementary at the school chosen. That was my case when I had to change to a Vietnamese school after my English school closed down. Children are best to be exposed to as many languages as possible at a tender age of 4-9, the learning curve levels off after this age range. Just choose an international school or buy heaps of advanced English books and educational English programmes there, preferably BBC.
Good luck!

Best reply,


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:01
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
Written vs. spoken language Apr 3, 2009

Keep in mind that even if your daughter speaks perfect English, that doesn't mean that she will be able to write it or read it. I know many perfectly bilingual people that can't read or write in their second language properly or as well as people that do have a formal education in such language.

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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
German to English
pros and cons Apr 3, 2009

If you do try to get out of English lessons in school you would need to arrange for her to have some other kind of English lessons, for her own sake (so that she learns spelling rules, good grammar, etc) and so that she can pass some sort of exam in English later to prove her ability. (Will she even need to pass an English exam to get her baccalaureate?)

My daughter is 11 and has to take English lessons in school despite having an English mum. She is quite laid-back and not the sort to get restless in lessons; that hasn't been a problem for us. However, now that she is in secondary education I am quite uncomfortable about the lessons.

Her teacher is trying to correct her pronunciation wrongly (telling her to say "uz" instead of "us"), and marks things wrong on her tests when they are right (e.g. underlining the correct spelling "twelfth" and indicating it should be spelt with a V!).

I know that any non-native teacher will never have the same feeling for the language, and that can't be helped, and I know that my daughter isn't perfect, but it seems such a shame that my daughter's natural ability is being tainted by non-native errors she would not otherwise make. The other day she pointed at the words "an MP3 player" and said "Why is that 'an' even though 'MP3' starts with 'm'; my teacher says you only use 'an' before vowels". I asked "Would you say 'a MP3 player'?" and she realised it sounded stupid, but if she hadn't been taught a silly rule for when to say 'an' she would never have got mixed up. It's quite frustrating.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:01
German to English
+ ...
Is she the only one? Apr 3, 2009

In our town we have a Spanish immersion track in the public schools. Both of my daughters are in this program. Once they get to 6th grade, the program stops, but a special higher level Spanish class has been introduced for the kids "graduating" out of that program. They have been used to hearing Spanish every day since kindergarten, so putting them in Spanish 101 in 6th grade was silly.

Of course, this was done because of the sheer number of kids in the program. If your daughter isn't the only child who is fluent in English, perhaps a separate class can be arranged? Or perhaps a tutor can be brought in for her - don't know if they use the "pull out" method in French schools, but in our area in the States they use it to some extent for ESL kids, i.e., they are in the classroom with their peers most of the time, but then are "pulled out" for some special instruction.

Anne, that's really too bad. When I taught in Austria as an assistant, the director of the school (non-native English) would question my grammar in front of the class, so I have experienced that as well. It's a tough situation to address without putting the teacher completely on the defensive (and therefore not solving the problem for your daughter).


[Edited at 2009-04-03 15:22 GMT]


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
German to English
exams Apr 3, 2009

It's a tough situation to address without putting the teacher completely on the defensive (and therefore not solving the problem for your daughter). [Edited at 2009-04-03 15:22 GMT]


I don't think it's worth saying anything to the teacher as it isn't her fault: non-natives will always make the odd mistake, and her teaching is no doubt just fine for the other children. My daughter doesn't see a problem with it as she is quite confident about her language skills, and finds it funny! (I am trying to encourage her to respect the teacher anyway...) It's mainly my problem, in fact!

At the moment I don't know of a better alternative, as she has to take English to pass her Abitur - AFAIK she has to take the same exams as the others. If it was possible to avoid the English lessons we'd still have to arrange some other teaching and she'd still have to practise for tests designed for non-natives.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 21:01
English to German
+ ...
With claudia... Apr 3, 2009

Hi! speaking is a matter of interpretation ability translators write. Then the written can be read by many. I share this opinion with claudia much. The subject called teaching starts infact with writing. BR Brandis

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unfortunately.... Apr 3, 2009

Peter Manda wrote:
school is about socialization, not about learning


Personally I'd want less socialization and more learning for my children in a Spanish public school!!! :-/


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'd ask for a dispensation, but.... Apr 3, 2009

frederique sannier-lowry wrote:
My 4 year old daughter was brought bilingually. We live in France and English lessons will be compulsory when she starts primary school. I was wondering if this could do any 'damage' to her level of English, added to the fact that she will obviously be bored and will waste her time. I am very tempted to ask for a dispensation...


The problem will be... what will the child do in that time? Where will she be? Will she be attended to, or abandoned in some empty room while her friends and fellow students are learning and doing things?


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Anne Carnot  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 21:01
Member (2009)
English to French
Depends on the school... Apr 3, 2009

if she goes to a regular French school, I wouldn't worry too much about it; it usually starts in CE2, and most of the time, it's only 1 hour a week. By the end of primary school, kids usually know their colours, numbers (0-20), days of the week and a few sentences, but that's about it!!

However, there are plenty of very good bilingual schools too, depending where you live, where kids are taught proper English, including reading and writing, by native and qualified teachers....
Hope this helps!



[Edited at 2009-04-03 16:31 GMT]


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 12:01
English to Russian
+ ...
I would ask for dispensation if I were you... Apr 3, 2009

...and I would not receive it, I'd definitely consider homeschooling.

Yes, she will obviously be bored and it will waste her time. I believe it is unjust and wrong to inflict boredom on young children.

My daughter was in somewhat similar situation. She knows Spanish since early childhood. She is in a small private school now, and they have once a week Spanish lessons. She was bored out of her wits, so I talk to the principal and asked to excuse her from the class. He agreed. Of course, it's a private school and a very special one - I don't think it would be that easy in a public school.

On the other hand, if you can find a very good bi-lingual school where English is taught on a serious level, it might be very good to your daughter.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dismissal Apr 3, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
The problem will be... what will the child do in that time? Where will she be? Will she be attended to, or abandoned in some empty room while her friends and fellow students are learning and doing things?


I had that problem in my mid-teen years. It was not a matter of speaking English at home, as both my parents spoke several languages - none of which I ever learned - but no English at all. I had been studying English at a language school for 2 years already when it began from square one in my regular school, obviously at a slower pace.

The teacher was young but wise. He made a deal with me, to squelch my potential disruption of his class: I'd sit in the back row, and spend my time reading... but something in English, of course! As he was unspecific about what I should be reading, I borrowed a whole bunch of MAD magazine past issues from a cousin.


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Member
English
+ ...
Depends on the child Apr 3, 2009

My daughter Jana (10) has a native command of English, but she still enjoys English classes at school in our Catalan town because the teacher encourages her to concentrate her energies on aspects her fellow pupils are not ready for (correct spelling, grammar, etc). Luckily, her English teacher lived in the States for a while and doesn't make the kind of crass errors described above. Horrors!

My daughter also enjoys the games and songs etc, that make up a lot of the methodology of modern English teaching. Plus, it is a chance to slip the engine into neutral for 45 minutes, before having to slam the gearbox into first for Maths (which is not her best subject). I don't think we should get obnsessed that she is losing anything during English classes. We all allow ourselves to get too hyped up about wasting time. Too many of us transaltors are basically wokaholics, aren't we?.

The only real problem my wife and I see is that Jana is the only kid in the class who isn't doing a foreign language. But then, as she already masters three (English, Catalan & Spanish), perhaps we shouldn't worry about that .


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