Early Learning

Learning two languages at a very young age

The learning of a 2nd language at a young age has remarkable benefits, particularly when it is delivered in a situation of total language immersion as it is in BIS:  with a range of activities taught in small groups with native speakers and with hands-on learning, interactive and differentiated activities. It is important that a child already has a good mother tongue level before beginning to learn a 2nd language e.g. a good bank of vocabulary and sentence structures. It is therefore unlikely that a child will be bilingual at the end of Early Learning.

BIS offers an ambitious teaching programme that is linked to the global direction of the school.

Selecting the 1st Language of instruction

Parents are asked to choose the 1st Language of instruction for their child - either French or English during enrollment. The child will learn to read and write in this language. Normally, this is the language that is spoken at home (their mother tongue) or the one that the child is already able to understand and communicate to others in.

Until the age of 7 (Year 3 / CE1 / Yellow Group) reading and writing are only taught in the pupil’s 1st language. The 2nd language (either French or English) is only taught orally through games, activities, songs, talking and listening, drama and stories etc… Only when the child is competent and has mastered his/her 1st language, is she/he taught to read and write in the 2nd language.

We have chosen this teaching approach to prevent the children becoming confused between the two languages as they are not extremely different. We advise bilingual parents to follow the above approach and work with us, therefore not teaching them to read and write in their 2nd language at home.

Moving up to Primary

After Early Learning, the children move into the Primary department (which is recognized by the Ministère de l’Education Nationale) where they can continue to follow a bilingual curriculum until the end of Middle School. They have the opportunity to continue to learn their 2nd language to an advanced level. BIS is the only school in Aquitaine that offers this high standard of bilingual teaching.

By the end of Primary, the children who have followed our programme, will have language skills close to bilingualism in both French and English. In addition, they should be able to use Spanish to communicate. At this point students can select a school to begin Sixième, either remain at BIS in the bilingual Middle School Section (Lower Middle School 1), or in a traditional middle school or in an ”international” section of a French Collège.