Children with no prior exposure to the French language are welcomed in Preschool and Kindergarten. They are also admitted on a case-by-case basis in First Grade. Beyond First Grade, it is our experience that students who do not speak any French have a hard time keeping up with their peers and EB does not offer an French immersion program for non-French speakers after First Grade.
Children in Toute Petite Section (age 2.5) through second grade spend 80% of their school day with a French-speaking teacher, and 20% of the day with an English-speaking teacher. In addition, all of our Maternelle classrooms have a full-time bilingual teacher’s assistant. From third grade on, classroom time is divided equally between English and French.
EB is accredited by the French Ministry of Education. For the French part of our program, we follow the same framework as other local, national, and international schools also recognized by the French Ministry of Education.
The reading and study skills learned in French transfer into English. That is, once a child has grasped that letters make sounds, and sounds combine to make words, that skill is applicable to any language with the same alphabet. Between first and third grade, children in bilingual programs may have standardized test scores lower than the scores of children who are only mastering one language. From fourth grade on, however, our students consistently outperform their monolingual counterparts in standardized tests. Bilingualism enhances children’s understanding of the workings of language, and—since one-third of the words in English are of French origin—knowledge of French helps build vocabulary for reading in English.
Since bilingualism makes it easier to learn a third language, children whose families speak a language other than English or French tend to thrive at EB.
Nearly half of our students arrive at EB without any previous exposure to French, and nearly all of them go on to excel in both languages. Our Maternelle classrooms create a welcoming environment where children can gradually become comfortable with French, and all of our programs are designed to support the academic success of all students regardless of the language spoken at home. In a recent survey of parents, families who did not speak French at home were just as satisfied with EB as French-speaking families.
For a list of ideas and resources to support your bilingual learner (even if you don’t speak the language!), click here.
What happen if a child is a “Fall baby” (turning 5 between September 1st and December 31st of the year they are starting at EB) and do not usually qualify for Kindergarten in California?
Because we are following the French educational system, EB children are able to enter Kindergarten classrooms at age 4; as long as they are turning 5 years old by December 31st. This is a huge advantage because children can be placed in the program that is appropriate for their development. When we have “Fall Baby” candidates, we look closely at the child’s readiness, we have discussions with parents and we welcome the child for a group evaluation. Sometimes we decide to place the child in a Moyenne Section classroom (Pre-Kindergarten program) and sometimes if we feel the child is ready, we will enroll her/him in Kindergarten.
All of the teachers in our French program (including in our preschool/TK program) are native speakers. At the Lower School, including at our maternelle, all of our core subject teachers hold credentials from either the French Ministry of Education or the State of California. At the Middle School, all of our teachers hold either a credential or an advanced degree in the subject they teach.
All of the teachers in our English program are fully credentialed.