Language classes as a way for
As I wrote in my book, “A Parent’s Guide to Mandarin Immersion,” a certain percentage of families chose Mandarin immersion not because they care about the language but because it tends attract students from academically minded families. This phenomenon in known in Canada as well, where French-immersion schools are known as ‘the poor man’s private school.”
Here’s an example I had not heard of, French-German programs offered in French schools which attract 16% of students, in part because their families want a more academic program. The French are looking to lower this number, in the name of equity.
Perhaps adding more academically challenging programs would be a better response?
High flyers and sad failures
A misguided effort to fix a school system that leaves too many losers behind
FRANCE is justly proud of some aspects of its education system. At prestigious public-sector high schools such as Henri IV (pictured), an ancient establishment in the centre of Paris, pupils emerge with rigorous, well-trained minds, thanks to a broad-based final exam, the baccalauréat. The country boasts five of the top 15 European business schools. Their high-flying graduates are snapped up by banks in New York and London. French tech engineers are in high demand with startups in San Francisco. Yet, although it caters well to the top end of the ability range, French education is miserably failing the bottom.
Each year 122,000 pupils—17% of the total—leave school with no high-school diploma. Last year the French army evaluated national levels of reading and comprehension during a compulsory day of military and civic service for 17-year-olds. It found that one in ten attendees could not understand basic French. Such difficulties are concentrated in the outer-city banlieues, where family support is minimal and schools tend to get the least experienced teachers. But even the average is dropping. According to PISA, an international comparison of education standards run by the OECD, a club mostly of rich countries, French 15-year-olds’ standards of written comprehension and mathematics have fallen since 2000.
Early pre-school and primary school work well in France. The weak link seems to be the first four years of secondary, known as collège. This chunk of schooling, which is run with no selection for ability and along comprehensive lines, “does not today guarantee the acquisition of basic knowledge”, in the words of the education ministry. Which is why Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Socialist government’s education minister, recently unveiled an overhaul of collège, which she hopes will come into effect in September 2016.
You’ll need to click on the link below to read the full article, but the noteworthy sentence is this one:
The first is a move to close specialist bilingual French-German classes and give much less emphasis to Latin and Greek. Ms Vallaud-Belkacem says middle-class parents use the German-French classes, which cater to just 16% of pupils, as a proxy for selection to secure their children an elite education.
Please read more here.