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Putting Your Child in a Foreign Language School

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 12 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Foreign Language School School Abroad

Moving abroad can be tough for the whole family and starting off in a new school can add to the stress for both children and parents. So what if your kids are going to join a foreign language school? How can you best prepare them for the enormous changes they will face?

Making the Decision

One of the first questions any parent asks themselves when deciding whether or not to relocate is “what will the schools be like?” These days most of us with children are only too aware of the huge differences between different institutions, and we are therefore keen to ensure our children not only go to the best possible establishments but that they are also well placed to pursue their interests and develop the skills they are strongest in.

When making a move abroad, however, other factors come into play. We may have to contemplate the fact that our children may have to start following a different schooling system and think about whether this could affect their future in any way, especially if we plan to return to our home country at some point during their education period. Secondly, there’s the issue of joining a school that teaches in the native language of the country. If this language is not English, would we consider this to be a positive or negative move?

The Benefits of Studying in a Foreign Language

There are all sorts of benefits to enrolling your offspring in a school, which teaches in the native language of the country. First and foremost you will be giving your child the best possible chance of becoming fluent in that language. Having full exposure to the language in the classroom and during break time will enable them to learn so much more than they would if they attended an English-speaking school. Secondly, it will help them to make friends with children from the country, enabling them to integrate, and enriching their whole cultural experience of living abroad.

Possible Problems with Foreign Language Learning

There are a few possible problems with your child attending a foreign language school, however. These should not necessarily put you off but should always be taken into consideration. First of all, it can be a very daunting experience starting school in another language. Your child will need plenty of support and encouragement. If he or she has any particular learning problems, you may need to speak to the school and professional experts to ensure your child will be adequately supported and will not suffer further set backs through studying in a foreign language.

Supporting Your Child

You also need to address the issue of the development of their spoken and written English. This is particularly important if they plan to return to an English language school system at some point in the future, or to attend university. The “English as a foreign language” lessons at their new school (and at which they will undoubtedly shine) will not be adequate. You may well, therefore, wish to arrange extra lessons for them with a native English-speaking teacher while you are abroad.

First Steps

Once you have decided you will enrol your child in a local school during your time abroad, do your research thoroughly. If possible, book yourself a trip and visit a few different schools to see which you think will be the most suitable. As soon as you have made your decision, arrange for your child to begin extra lessons in the new language. The more prepared they are, the happier they will feel and the smoother the adjustment will be.

Listen to Your Child

Finally, remember this won’t be easy. The younger your children are, the easier it will be for them. They will learn quickly and will soon be chatting away. But everyone needs to remember this will be a stressful time. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you will do all you can to make this a pleasurable and valuable experience for them.

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