Frequently Asked Questions


What is bilingualism?

Bilingualism can be simply defined as the ability to use two languages to communicate.  It can mean that the individual is fluent in both languages, but it can also be used when an individual is fluent in one language and can communicate in a second.

What is a literate bilingual?

A literate bilingual is someone who is able to read and write well (preferably in line with their peer group in each language) in two languages.  At Accents we aim to produce literate bilinguals - children who can read and write at the same level as their peers in both the UK and France.

My child can talk and understand English so why do they need lessons?

We often find that children arriving at Accents who have been in France from a young age are missing some of the phonemes which are the fundamental building blocks of the language - even in the UK, the 'f' and 'th' sounds are often difficult to grasp until into primary school.  Without understanding the language through these basic building blocks, the mispronunciation of words such as 'thing' (fing) means that there can be fundamental mistakes being built into their spoken language.  Whilst a young child may be perceived to speak well in English, this may not be the case.  

However, to make the most of their native language, children need to be taught to read and write in English too, just as they would if they attended an English language primary school.  Being taught to read and write in French will give children some transferable skills but there are many differences between the languages that need to be taught.  Simple examples of the differences would be the pronunciation of e, i, j and g in the two languages or the spelling rules which are language specific.

Why does my child need to be able to read and write in English?

There is no doubt now that English is the commercial language of the world.  Whilst it may not be the most widely spoken, it is the one language in which all nationalities can converse.  It is the language of the internet, of science and international affairs.  Anyone with an English language background will be expected to be fully literate in their mother tongue, not being so will put children at a severe disadvantage when they try to get a job, because after all there will always be plenty of candidates who are fluent in their mother tongue as well as English.  It is estimated that about half of EU citizens can converse in a second language - that's 450 million people - so it is important to stand out from the crowd.

My child receives English lessons at school so why should I consider extra lessons?

English lessons at French schools are based on teaching English as a foreign language which means that the vocabulary and sentence structure is not age appropriate for a native English speaker.  Whilst some teachers will give out worksheets to the English speakers to occupy them, there are few that will develop a curriculum that will ensure that their standard of English remains consistent with their peers in the UK.  This is where Accents can help.

Will learning English harm my child's French?

Our experience has shown quite the opposite - developing a child's English and giving them a solid foundation in their maternal language has been shown time and time again to improve their acquisition and development of French through their school life.  By enlarging their English vocabulary, they are more able to decipher new French words and by becoming literate bilinguals their overall linguistic capability increases.

Can children learn two languages at the same time?

Yes - this is in fact the norm for many areas of the world where children are brought up speaking a local language which is not their national language.  In fact, many young children are able to speak 3 or 4 languages.  Even in the UK many children grow up speaking Welsh or Gaelic and English.

Can children lose their English?

Unfortunately this is very common and takes less time than one would think.  Unless English is maintained in the household as a priority, written English can be lost within a couple of years and there are instances of teenagers refusing to speak English at all - ending up with similar English ability to their French peers at the end of collège.

What age can my child start Accents?

The most important thing on joining Accents is that children have a level of concentration and maturity to cope with a structured learning environment.  Generally children are 5 before they come to us.

I have heard that bilingual children are better learners - is this true?

More than 150 major research studies now broadly conclude that when children continue to develop their abilities in two or more languages throughout their primary school years, they gain a deeper understanding of language and how to use it effectively.  This metalinguistic awareness will certainly help children learn languages in the future.

Why does Accents charge for activities?

We pride ourselves on providing quality English language tuition.  To achieve this we employ professionals to teach our children, purchase the best resources from the UK and ensure that insurance and other administrative tasks are taken care of.  This all costs money and we receive no outside funding at all.  We therefore have to cover these costs through our course fees but we do all we can to keep these to a minimum and are proud not to have implemented an increase in the 11 years we have been running.

Can French children join Accents?

Yes.  Children who join Accents have at least one parent who is a native English speaker and/or English is one of the languages spoken at home.

Does Accents offer English courses for adults?

We are always looking at ways to develop the organisation and there is a possibility that in the future that we will be in the position to offer English Language courses for adults.  In the meantime we are very happy to pass on details of experienced TEFL teachers within the area.  If you are interested in finding out more please contact us. 

Is there a minimum criteria for registering for the iGCSE English Language course?

Yes.  Your child should have completed KS3 English or at least be at that level in written and spoken English.  If you are not sure of your child's level of English a meeting with our class teacher can be arranged, who will carry out a brief informal assessment to determine their ability.

I would like my child to join the iGCSE group - what will be expected of him/her?

In order to be successful with the iGCSE examination it is crucial that your child attends the sessions every week. It is equally important to take part in the class based tuition during the school holidays.  He or she must also complete any homework and submit assignments within the timescale for marking.  


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