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French immersion for kids

Question

Hi. We're moving to Brussels for 3-4 years and bring kids 4 and 7 years old with us. We want to maximize the language immersion for them while maintaining their English since we'll be coming back eventually. Any suggestions for schools (government is paying and housing will depend on school location), after school activities, language groups or classes, etc. We're looking forward to being part of the strong ex pat community but want to make sure we get into the local flavor, too. Thanks!

J

Local schools. French at school, English at home. (I'm guessing as you know you're moving on, Dutch is unlikely to be the language of choice). Both will be as fluent in French as they are in English by the end of the year.

Oct 9, 2016 16:06
shortof

This facebook group is the biggest social media group where you can ask questions about local schooling and after school activities in English.

Where you work is the starting point for choosing where to live, but be aware that many people say they are coming to Brussels when in fact they are coming instead to Vlaams Brabant or Brabant Wallon ofter 80km away from Brussels. After you know where work is, then look for where to live and don't judge on geographical distance but ease of commute and time of commute and method of commute.

If you have a relocation agent, be very very cautious about taking advice, as relocation agents have a poor reputation here for listening to their clients and have their own (backhander) agenda often .

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParentsandBCTSchoolSupportNetworkinBelgium/

Oct 9, 2016 20:00
CC_R

Hi Emily, if you want the best of both world maybe consider moving further out and asking if le verseau if they have places. They have both English and French in that school. They are out at waver which French speaking and drivable to brussles for work. Although traffic can be problematic in the rush hour. Mostly it's French but as the children all learn English I think the children may struggle less.
http://www.eiverseau.be/
The bct offer help and support to young families they will have English speaking play sessions if you do put your children into local school. http://bctbelgium.org/
Be aware schooling is very competitive and many good school will not have space midway into a year.
Also if your oldest child has absolutely no French now then they may well struggle with the French speak school system. Not least because like the UK Belgium is very much pressure on the children and exams to pass each year to keep moving up the school. If they fail they have to "double" the year.
There are also some excellent international schools and most do teach French from a young age. However as they don't have charitable status the cost is huge unless it's being met by the company.
We put our oldest into the internal school of brussles when he was six and went back to UK at eleven, then we returned when he was older and he again opted to return to ISB. Big intentional community and many Dutch and French speakers.
In my mind this was English spoken education but NOT an English style of education. If fees would be paid I'd highly recommend you check the school out its very nice.
All the best with your move

Oct 9, 2016 23:30
shortof

If you choose the right area of Brussels, you will have no problem getting even mid year places in schools.

Brussels has around 50% non Belgians living there, the French schools attract a far greater percentage of the moving international community than the Dutch ones, meaning again if you choose the right area, you will land upon schools used to children coming for just a few years and you will find English speaking children too plus an English speaking community. Far more English activities outside school in east and south Brussels than Wavre where there is virtually nil, so for your 2 X 5k fees, you get 4 hours a week of English but once out of school, you'll be travelling to Brussels or Waterloo or Tervuren to do any activity in English. Most 7 year olds will be fine with a brand new language, if the parent is not a worrier and open minded which is already indicated in your post you want to expand your children's experiences. Local schooling, Le Verseau included, can be a bit of a shock however, schools rule, not the parents, don't rock the boat.

Without knowing where work is, wouldn't be able to advise further.

Oct 10, 2016 08:04
shortof

PS many Belgian schools at primary level do only the obligatory tests 3 times in 6 years and no exams as stated by above. It is school dependent. My children's school has no exams except those 3 sets of exams.

Oct 10, 2016 08:06
shortof

PS your easiest way of getting on the BSB French programme is to send your children for a year to local French schools, to give them enough French to pass the test to get on the programme, no French means no place in Fr-Eng. There are alternative schools in Brussels which offer Fr-Eng with no minimum level of languages. You sort of pay for what you get though. If you join the BCT facebook group linked to above, you'll get far more information.

Oct 10, 2016 19:30
Miglamb

It seems you need a bilingual school in Brusselsfrench -english > http://internationalschoolsinbrussels.be/en/bilingual-schools. These schools offers a primary and a secondary teaching.

Oct 24, 2016 20:33