We're on hols in the UK at the moment, our country of origin. As ever we've been soaking up the British weather (literally) and the culture (metaphorically). The kids were surprised and somewhat disappointed to learn, this time around, that NRJ Hit Music Radio is not actually available in England. Moreover that none of the UK stations we've managed to find play anything French. Although by 'French' our eldest's understanding is it means it can be heard in France - so we had to break it to him that Rihana was not in fact French! No, nor Katy Perry. Maroon 5? Nope not them neither. Indeed, if there's anything that helps you enjoy your time off it's a few of your favourite 'tubes' playing over the airwaves. However, the odds that we'll hear Louane, Kendji or Les Frèro Delavega, all authors of the current most toe-tapping-poppy numbers over in France, are slim to none. Indeed, I've felt the need to tune into Youtube (can I say that?) to download Maitre Gims's latest tour de force. All this, I suppose, [...]
Our Christmas this year was dominated by the toy that has every French school-boy under the age of ten going nuts. They call it Toupie; and they play Toupie at breaktime, Toupie at lunchtime, Toupie after school and Toupie at home. It's like a perpetual conker season without the conkers (buck eyes) [...]
Language development in a bilingual child can be severely retarded if they see no point in learning to communicate in a language that is not spoken locally. So, as the parent of bilingual children, one of the reasons you need to make regular trips back to your homeland is to demonstrate to your offspring that your native language has value, and thus to give them the impetus to learn it.
It has been noted, on a number of occasions in the past, that my sense of humour often takes some getting used to. This is a fact that I'm neither proud nor ashamed of. However, over time I have come to realise that if I misjudge a new audience, and the delivery of a 'gag', it has the potential to result in giving entirely the wrong impression about me. All right, not necessarily 'wrong' but one which I'd rather not have them believe - straight away anyway. This 'first impressions' concept is something I am trying to impress upon my 3 year old son who, having recently started school, is making an effort to become popular with his mates by making them laugh. Nothing wrong with that, however his sense of humour is stuck somewhat in a scatological phase. That is, he thinks the word 'poo' is hilarious. So much so in fact, that he chortles to himself immediately after every time he says it. Now, let's be honest, the occasional, well placed 'poo' can be funny. Indeed, I [...]
Whenever I'm asked this question by a newcomer to Strasbourg I usually smirk and respond with something obnoxious. This is primarily because I have two children in the International Section at Robert Schuman and am very happy with it, and also because I like to be obnoxious. Objectivity doesn't come into it. And there you have it - a case in point - the difference between the two schools is subject of much emotive and baseless discussion around Strasbourg; and rumours seem to play a part in each school's reputation - each emanating from proud parents defending their choice of school. It's all very subjective, so if you're a new parent in town - the story will vary wildly according to who you speak to. The choice is made particularly difficult due to the fact that both schools are state funded and therefore free. However, before you even consider one or the other - you should know that one of the best fee-paying schools in the country is also located in Strasbourg. Indeed, if you can afford it the [...]
The bedtime routine for the boys has changed perpetually since we became parents for the first time in 2005. In it's current guise I add a touch of bilingualism into the mix. For one reason or another our eldest has always had trouble calming down at the end of the day, and so we've had to try just about everything, every tip, trick and old wives' tale in order to get him to drop off to sleep. At present I find myself singing a melody of children's favourites for ten minutes or so after lights out, at the end of which, if it has been a busy day for the poor little nipper, slumber is guaranteed ... provided he doesn't need a poo. I've been taking this opportunity to brush up on my French nursery songs, to learn the words and tunes to mix in with the classic English ones I already know so well. What I try to do, is sing one English, then one French, keeping the same theme wherever possible. The current run-down goes something like [...]
It was our pediatrician who eventually decided to refer our 3 year old to a speech therapist having seen little progress in his language development over the preceding 12 months, but it was our pediatrician himself who gave us the best advice as to how to solve the issue. His opinion was that our son put no value on the English language, after all he could see no use for it, as every other child he met spoke French or German. English was just this bizarre marginalised language that his parents spoke - and what child truly wants to be like their parents? His sage advice was this "He needs to spend at least a month in the UK if he is to put any value on the language". It might seem bizarre to some that we had not spent any significant amont of time in the UK since moving to Strasbourg, but hell we'd spent the best part of our lives in the UK and simply loved Stasbourg to bits - why on earth would we slope back [...]
With our eldest fast approaching school age (3 years old) we've been doing some research into international schooling options in Strasbourg. 'International' meaning bi- or multi-lingual schooling. You only qualify for international schooling if your child's 'langue maternale' (mother tongue) is something other than French, so the ream of schools offering bi-linguilism do so only to foreigners, immigrants and mixed-origin families; much to the chagrin of local all-French families, because it is reputed that international schooling is far better than regular state schooling. Nonetheless this doesn't stop countless competitive French parents from applying ... hoping that their claims to bilingualism will be believed. Fees and main teaching language are the other big questions. With regards to fees, rarely is it a matter of affordability, as private schools here cost approximately half that of those in the UK. The question is whether you want to pay at all. And as for main teaching language it usually comes down to mother tongue or French. So here are our options in a nutshell: Strasbourg International School | up to 12,000 EUR per [...]