Life at an international school

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I thought I should write something here about the school that Esther and Saskia go to here in Grenoble. The first month hasn’t been easy and we have had to adjust quite a lot to the new situation.

School is organised in 4 long days. Wednesday is a day off, on the other days school starts at 8:30 and finishes at 16:30. At first this seems like a very long day, but it includes a 2 hour lunch-break. Having said that, the girls tend to come out very tired and de-hydrated. For us to get to school involves a half hour walk, or a 2o minute scoot/cycle, so we normally leave the house just after eight and get back at around five.

The school advertises itself as an international school, but is in fact a local school, with an international stream (English and German). We got a little bit caught out with this, because we had assumed that a lot of the teaching would be in English. Unfortunately this is not the case, Esther’s main teacher doesn’t really speak much english, and most of the day seems to be in french for both girls. As a result, a lot of the teaching is quite hard for the girls to understand, and this can be a bit frustrating. It seems to depend on the teacher how they deal with this, Saskia’s teacher seems to make a lot of allowances for her, Esther’s seems less flexible. In general, the teachers here seem to be a lot stricter than at home. In Towerbank the emphasis is always on praise and “possitive re-inforcement”, we were a bit baffled by some to the comments that the girls were getting here from their teachers, it all seemed a bit harsh.

So it isn’t all plain sailing, but there are some possitives as well.

Every day the girls get an hour of English, which is just for the native english-speaker and is at the right level for them. In fact, they emphasis seems to be on the formal aspects of the language (grammar and spelling) and Esther in particular seems to (secretely) quite enjoy this. They also get two hours of French every day,  and they have picked up a lot already. These “special” classes seem to go down a bit better than some of the frustrating time in their own class-rooms.

Unfortunately, the extra language classes also come with a fair amount of homework, most of which gets done on Wednesday or the weekend.  Esther in particular gets a lot of homework because she is in the last year at primary school, among kids preparing for  an entry exam for the international highschool. The pressure is on….  another thing we hadn’t realised before entering the school.

Another possitive thing seems to be the food at lunch time. We are talking proper food here, five courses including salad and cheese, and everybody is encouraged to at least try everything.  When asked the girls almost invariably tell us that they enjoyed most of it.  Here’s an example of what they had a few weeks ago:

  • Entree:        Salade de lentilles
  • Plat:              Goulash de boeuf
  • Legume:      Haricots verts persilles
  • Fromage:    Tomme grise
  • Dessert:       Fruit

In summary, getting used to the new school hasn’t been easy and has involved a few tears along the way. Fortunately the girls have made a few friends and hopefully they will come away feeling possitive about the experience.

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