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Old 01.06.2010, 16:21
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public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Hello new friends!. First time to English Forum but have been reading it for months (!) as we are planning a move to Vaud (from Canada) in July. We have two kids ages 5 and 7. It has come down to the wire now...the difficult question of private vs. public schools. My children know NO french but on a good day I am willing to give the public school system a chance.
We will be back in Vaud next month settling on a home. Ideally, I would like the Coppet, Founex and Nyon area. I would also like to visit the local schools in these areas to investigate the 'welcome' classes, as it seems to me, each school has a different way of managing non-French speaking kids. Is this the case? I am particularly worried for my 7 year old son - but if he has a couple of English speaking kids in his class, whom he befriends, he should be OK. He is that kind of kid - I just don't want him to feel isolated.
Does anyone have experience in the public school system in these areas? If so, are you able to give me specific school names/regions for my investigation.
Thank you so much to all my new 'friends'!
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Old 01.06.2010, 19:40
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Hi.

We have a 5 year old daughter who has entered the Swiss state school system. She is incredibly shy but absolutely loves her school in Rolle. She has been going there for a year now and is starting to pick up the French quite well.

What we found is that the school ( which is very used to kids from international backgrounds ) has a policy of not letting too many non-French speaking kids gather in one classroom together. She has, I think, two more non-French speaking kids in the class and her teacher is perfectly capable of speaking in English to her ( but obviously does it when she feels it is appropriate ). The school has also laid on specialist French language classes for her to get her up to speed.

I am very happy with how the school is looking after her needs and more importantly, my daughter loves going there.
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Old 01.06.2010, 19:43
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Hi. Thanks so much for this information! Exactly what I have been looking for! Rolle is another area we have been looking at. How many schools are there in Rolle - does your daughter go to primary school - I am a little confused about primary/kindegarten ages. Are you native English speaker?
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Old 01.06.2010, 19:51
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Hi barog, welcome to the forum (don't forget to pop over to Introductions and do a little piece there).

You'll no doubt have noticed many posts about schooling and housing, but largely in Vaud it's nigh on impossible to pin it down to a particular school due to the housing shortage. It really is a case of trying to find a house/appt, then crossing your fingers that the school is ok. And then that your child's teacher is ok, as they have a lot of autonomy here on how they teach and run the class.

But fortunately, the teachers are mostly are lovely, dedicated, professional people, and you'd have to be very unlucky to be stuck with a bad one. Find the house, get accepted for the rental contract, THEN try and squeeze in a quick school visit for a once-over before you sign (and even then the commune may not be able to confirm exactly which school your children may attend, as many schools here are grouped, and shuffle the classes between villages depending on demographics!). It's a close-your-eyes, leap of faith, which really does almost always work out great.

I think in Vaud it's customary to put primary-aged kids straight into their year group class and then offer additional intensive French - my son has had 45 minute sessions almost daily for two years (his French tutor tells me that it's Vaud policy that incoming children have a right to extra French for two years).

As far as English friends in his class, I really wouldn't expect this or worry about it, even though it seems hugely important on Day One. Schools seem to go out of their way to NOT put kids with the same mother tongue in the same class, for the obvious reasons. Kids of this age, though, play very well without many words, and it'll be better for their French in the long run if they don't have English to fall back on. And there will almost certainly at least be other English speakers on the playground, even if they're in other classes or a grade or so adrift.

Best of luck for making the decision. My kids have so far been in local school aged 8-10, and 4-6, and I haven't regretted it at all.

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Old 01.06.2010, 22:17
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

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I am a little confused about primary/kindegarten ages.
The cut off for entering each school year is 30 June. So if a child is 4 by the 30 June, then they can enter premiere enfantine at the end of August (first year of kindergarten). If they are 5 by 30 June, they go into deuxieme enfantine, then 6 for first year of primary school, then 7 for second year of primary school.

Probably not relevant for you, but in case anyone else is interested there is some flexibility for a couple of months either side of this date, for children who are particularly mature or particularly not ready for a school situation; they can advance or retard their start date by one year.

Also for information, at present enfantine is optional, but it will be compulsory from August 2011, when the cut off date will become 31 July.

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Old 01.06.2010, 22:45
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Ah! Very important info for me! Thanks. In Vaud, is the kindegarten in the same school as primary school? It is in Canada, but I know this may not be the norm. I hope so as I think it will be easier on the kids if they are in the same school (as they are now).
Thansk Kodokan...I have read many threads from you over the last few months - they have been VERY helpful!!
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Old 01.06.2010, 22:55
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

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Ah! Very important info for me! Thanks. In Vaud, is the kindegarten in the same school as primary school?
Depends on the village, it can vary. In our village, we have a large 'hub' school that goes from 4 up to 15, but we looked at a couple of quite rural houses where they had a small enfantine in the village but it would have been necessary to bus over to the next village for primary. Like you, I was specifically looking for somewhere where the kids could be together. Even though our enfantine is quite separate, in its own building with its own playground, they go into the main school for gym, using the library, etc, so the kids still feel that they go to the same school. I believe some of the private/international schools also split their campuses on an age/ grade basis, so that's something to consider although I imagine that kids of 5 and 7 would at least be in the same place to start with.

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Thansk Kodokan...I have read many threads from you over the last few months - they have been VERY helpful!!
*Blush* - don't mention it, just payback for all the other useful info I glean from the Forum in areas I am less knowledgeable about.
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Old 03.06.2010, 14:07
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

The villages of Founex and Coppet are part of the Terre Sainte group of schools in that area. Nyon is part of the Nyon school district, which has several primary schools in various parts of the city. There are several primary schools in the Terre Sainte district, believe one in each of the 9 or so villages comprising the area. Not sure though if they would necessarily go to the one in village where live or a neighboring one, as I understand they have quite a lot of bussing in that area. The Terre Sainte secondary school is one big school for all those in the area. I understand that the enfantine classes (2 years of kindergarten) are in the local primary schools.

I do not have experience with integrating a french non-speaker into the local schools there, but would say in general that the Terre Sainte area is very very international, you would often feel like a little England there with so many anglophone families. The thing is though, you would probably be in the minority with sending your children to the public schools there, as nearly everyone I know in that area sends kids to private or international schools. Chances would be more that your neighbors kids go to the international school, not the public school. Keep in mind that le Chat, international school campus, is on the edge of Founex and very close to Coppet.
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Old 03.06.2010, 15:18
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

My daughter goes to College du ( or de I always forget! ) Bute in Rolle. When she is 8 she will transfer to a private school.

Le Chat, by all accounts, has an excellent primary section. Be advised though that it has a long - LONG - waiting list.
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Old 03.06.2010, 15:45
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Yes, we waited a year for our places at la chat. In that time though the boys were in a lovely British school called Geneva English School. We came here from the IB system and that is our reason for wanting to go back to it, but otherwise we'd have happily stated at GES.
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Old 04.06.2010, 04:24
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Yes, I am on the waiting list at le Chat - an for this coming school year, it is impossible to get in...have already been told.

Are you happy with your school in Rolle? Is your daughter a native English speaker?
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Old 04.06.2010, 09:09
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

FYI--Le Chat just got approval for the new primary school on the le Chat campus, which should greatly improve their capacity there in 2011 I think. The long long waiting lists will likely diminish significantly around that time.
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Old 04.06.2010, 14:51
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

This website may be of interest to OP or EF staticians.

http://www2.dfj.vd.ch/sr/stat_00.asp

It gives the nationality, language spoken, etc. of the students in the public schools in the communes of canton Vaud.

For example, looks like there are 5 students in the 2 enfantine classes in Coppet for this year that have english mother tongue.

Some other bizarre statistics there as well, such as the most common girls name, etc.
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Old 09.06.2010, 21:00
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Hi

We are just about to make that big leap of faith and will be moving to Mont sur Rolle in 2 weeks time with my children (age 7 and 8) starting at Ecole du Mont sur Rolle in August. They speak very little french at the moment but the school assured us this won't be a problem and the children will join other children in the area one morning a week at a school in Rolle for intensive French lesson.
From the web site posted above it is reassuring to see that their are other English speakers in the school - thanks for posting the link.
We are all nervous and apprehensive about the move and the schooling but wanted to give the kids an opportunity to try this system. As has been said many times before there is a lack of places in the international schools and to be honest some of those we did see didn't really seem that impressive anyway.
This site has been fab for finding loads of info and in fact did give us the courage to consider the Swiss state school system. Although perhaps once I have made the move and been there 6 months who knows what we will think. At the moment it is all packers, flights, car sales, lists of things to do ............. can you tell the stress of the move is starting to take hold.

Please feel free to pm for further details although I may soon be offline for a couple of weeks.

A x
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Old 09.06.2010, 21:27
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

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They speak very little french at the moment but the school assured us this won't be a problem
Just a tip to save you a lot of effort over summer: they will pick up more French in the first week of school than you would be able to put in their heads during the summer holidays.

I spent weeks before our move trying to teach my 7 turning 8 yr old son French - I got some children's study packs with CDs, hired a tutor to come to the house once a week, etc. My son went along with all this quite willingly, but even so it was laughable the amount of French he learnt compared to how much he knew after a few weeks at school.

Make sure they know the politeness and greetings basics (explain to them that hand shaking is a big thing here and that all kids shake the teacher's hand numerous times a day on entering and leaving class), can introduce themselves, know the numbers at least to 10 and can ask to go to the toilet.

A very normal pattern for Second Language Acquisition at their ages is:
- a few months of virtual silence whilst they pick up the rhythm of the language and break it down into words rather than a stream of sounds
- 6 months of very short and often incorrect sentences (lots of imperative stuff here, 'run now!', 'me eat it!', that sort of thing)
- another year to get up to a good conversational 'playground' level with some consistent errors still remaining (we're here; my son is only now starting to put object pronouns in front of the verb, as the change from 'I read the book' to 'I it read' order is unnatural to English speakers. My 6 yr old can on the other hand use pronouns perfectly, even the 'difficult' ones like 'en' that don't have a direct English equivalent - flippin' elastic little kid brains)
- a couple of years on from that should see him at a near-native level, give or take accent or some matters of specialist vocabulary

But really, 7 and 8 are excellent ages for this. They are young enough to adapt, are still at the age where a lot of peer games and communication can be almost non-verbal, already have experience of the routine of school, and can probably read much better than the rest of their class - the phonics sounds for French aren't a huge jump from English, with just some different vowels. The system here starts very slowly in primary (and ramps up enormously in secondary) so they will at first be covering concepts in things like maths that they already know from English, so can just concentrate on the language for the first year.

Good luck for the move.

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Old 06.07.2010, 14:57
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

thanks. very useful post for me. my 7 and 8 year old are staring school in Coppet, and have been stressing about getting them to acquire some french before start of term. feel more relaxed now!

tanya

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Just a tip to save you a lot of effort over summer: they will pick up more French in the first week of school than you would be able to put in their heads during the summer holidays.

I spent weeks before our move trying to teach my 7 turning 8 yr old son French - I got some children's study packs with CDs, hired a tutor to come to the house once a week, etc. My son went along with all this quite willingly, but even so it was laughable the amount of French he learnt compared to how much he knew after a few weeks at school.

Make sure they know the politeness and greetings basics (explain to them that hand shaking is a big thing here and that all kids shake the teacher's hand numerous times a day on entering and leaving class), can introduce themselves, know the numbers at least to 10 and can ask to go to the toilet.

A very normal pattern for Second Language Acquisition at their ages is:
- a few months of virtual silence whilst they pick up the rhythm of the language and break it down into words rather than a stream of sounds
- 6 months of very short and often incorrect sentences (lots of imperative stuff here, 'run now!', 'me eat it!', that sort of thing)
- another year to get up to a good conversational 'playground' level with some consistent errors still remaining (we're here; my son is only now starting to put object pronouns in front of the verb, as the change from 'I read the book' to 'I it read' order is unnatural to English speakers. My 6 yr old can on the other hand use pronouns perfectly, even the 'difficult' ones like 'en' that don't have a direct English equivalent - flippin' elastic little kid brains)
- a couple of years on from that should see him at a near-native level, give or take accent or some matters of specialist vocabulary

But really, 7 and 8 are excellent ages for this. They are young enough to adapt, are still at the age where a lot of peer games and communication can be almost non-verbal, already have experience of the routine of school, and can probably read much better than the rest of their class - the phonics sounds for French aren't a huge jump from English, with just some different vowels. The system here starts very slowly in primary (and ramps up enormously in secondary) so they will at first be covering concepts in things like maths that they already know from English, so can just concentrate on the language for the first year.

Good luck for the move.

kodokan
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Old 17.04.2011, 22:24
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

This info is so helpful, am currently deciding where to send my 5 and a half year old son. However, I read on the Vaud website that the objective in Vaud is to provide 2 years french tuition to non-speaking French children. However, I seem to read in various threads that that isn't always the case?
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Old 17.04.2011, 23:03
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Re: public vs private schools for non-French speakers in Vaud

Maybe not at 5.5, no. My understanding is that the canton is only obliged to provide this from first grade upwards, as enfantine is a parental choice rather than a compulsion. That said, my daughter had a year of French once a week for about 30 mins, as there were a number of enfantiners who were non-French speakers and I guess the school had a spare teacher available.

Not sure it made any real difference, to be honest. They just suck it up through classroom exposure and repetition rather than structured learning.
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