Cerian Maraviglia Primary English Coordinator at Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle de Londres explains how bilingual learning works at its four schools

Countless studies point to the many benefits of bilingualism, not only to broaden one’s linguistic skills and allow for easier learning of additional languages, but also to develop certain brain areas and connections, thereby strengthening cognitive abilities, creativity and productivity.

Furthermore, the benefit of acquiring these linguistic skills as early as possible is also generally accepted. Recreating the natural circumstances in which an infant acquires its native language’s oral skills is key to the success of a bilingual or multilingual education. Bilingual families know this and will often seek to have their offspring educated at an international school. In cases where a child is born in a monolingual family, school becomes the place to experience an international context first-hand from a very young age.

“Pupils are immersed in French and English languages within a community welcoming over 40 nationalities” 

With this in mind, all French schools in the global AEFE network, which is the French Ministry for European & Foreign Affairs’ Agency for French Education abroad (and with 566 schools in 138 countries) apply the same system. This means they teach the French curriculum and the French language, as well as the language and culture of the host country. Beyond bilingualism, these schools’ programmes actually aim for multilingualism, where an additional foreign language becomes compulsory at secondary level. This is achieved through dedicated language classes and other subjects being taught in one language or the other – for instance, history-geography, mathematics, science, sports.

The Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle de Londres – with its four locations in South Kensington, Clapham, Ealing and Fulham – is no exception. From age 3, our pupils are immersed in both languages. This happens in the classroom with intensive English lessons or a 50/50 programme, or even in informal learning situations such as the playground, the dining hall, extracurricular activities and other peer-to-peer interactions in our community welcoming over 40 nationalities. 

Following the Ronjat-Grammont method, where each adult is encouraged to only address pupils in their own native language, the Lycée focuses on having children acquire equal ease of oral comprehension and expression before they leave primary school. Pupils then develop written language skills and leave their school at 18 with excellent proficiency in at least two languages. This enables them to enter the most competitive higher-education courses around the world – including across Europe, the US and Canada.

Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle de Londres on bilingual benefits
The focus is on giving children ease of oral comprehension and expression in primary years. Photo: Alexa Roche

The educational offer at the Lycée is very varied and caters for all tastes and abilities. Pupils with a strong interest in literature get to enhance their knowledge of English-language written works in the International Section. Pupils wanting to pursue an all-British education in an international environment can prepare and take their GCSEs and A levels in the British Section. Pupils considering multilingualism a priority can learn other modern languages (Arabic, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish), or opt for ancient Greek or Latin. They can also attend the International French Baccalaureate Section and even graduate with a trilingual qualification in French, English and German.

Beyond bilingualism, multi-linguistic proficiency and multicultural backgrounds are key skills for individuals to develop in a globalised world. Started at age 3, the multilingual educational journey of international school pupils leads them to become well-rounded citizens of the world, able to adapt to diverse environments and to communicate efficiently across borders.

Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle de Londres lyceefrancais.org.uk

Further reading: Foreign languages– the state of play