Will my child be able to re-join a public State school or a contract State school after spending a year or more at Open World?
Yes. Open World International School
provides a bilingual curriculum which incorporates the French State curriculum as well as the Cambridge international curriculum. As such any student enrolled in our school may re-join the traditional education system at any time.
What is a non-contract school?
In France, there are three types of school: public schools, private contract schools and private non-contract schools. Non-contract schools are those who do not have a contract with the State as described under the 1959 Debré law. It is strictly an administrative term which in no way reflects the reality of these schools. We prefer the term free school (which reflects the school’s freedom to choose pedagogical methods, curriculum, and teaching staff) or independent school (which highlights the school’s creation by civilians and not by the State). The wide variety of independent schools enriches French schooling options, which significantly increases parents’ chances of finding a suitable school for their child.
Non-contract schools are regulated by the Education Code which defines a demanding legal framework. They are subject to more complete and thorough inspections than other schools. They have an obligation to achieve results, in so far as their numbers and financial situation are directly dependent on family satisfaction.
My child does not speak English. May he / she join your school?
Yes. For preschool-aged children, joining our school without having a previous knowledge of English should not present any problems as our classes are taught by immersion. Given that the period of easy language acquisition is until age five, young children will be able to understand and follow classes in English very quickly.
For children in Year 1 and Year 2, our English programme continues to be heavily based in oral English, with the introduction of early reading skills. Your child will as such learn vocabulary and phrases through regular circle time activities, games, songs and reading exercises.
From Year 3 on, our English teachers are able to adapt to new students and differentiate English classes to their level. Children who have never learned English before Year 3 or later will need extra support at home in order to progress. Your child will also need some extra support in geography and science as these subjects are taught through English.
For older children (Year 3 up), it , it is important to consider their progress in French and Maths (the core subjects of the French education system) when deciding if integrating a bilingual school is the right choice for them.
Why do students learn Chinese?
The Chinese language, or rather the Chinese languages as traditionally there are seven different dialects including Mandarin and Cantonese, are the most spoken languages in the world. Mandarin Chinese is gaining more and more of an important role in international exchanges.
Teaching children Chinese better prepares them for globalisation and helps them to appreciate and understand an ancient culture that cannot be boiled down to merchandise ‘made in China’. Learning Chinese, an ideogram language, is also an excellent memorisation exercise and allows children to discover a different system of logical reasoning. Learning Chinese allows one to increase one’s intellectual faculties by stimulating a part of the brain not used in learning alphabet languages.
In addition to this, learning Chinese calligraphy is an excellent exercise in memorisation and improves a child’s deductive reasoning. In Mandarin Chinese, pronunciation of each syllable is subject to a determined tone. Changing this tone drastically changes the meaning of the word. Therefore, we can really discuss the musicality of language. Up until a certain age, children have the innate ability to easily distinguish tone. This ability, this ‘ear’, is lost little by little as we become adults. Given this, learning Chinese from a young age is an unquestionable asset.
How do you approach different cultures and belief systems in your school?
We teach our students about world religions as a part of cultural heritage. We cannot teach about the history of society and civilisations without mentioning religion, just as we cannot discover nor discuss literature nor European artistic heritage without having a basic knowledge of religion.
Throughout the school year, we explore different holidays around the world (Christmas, Lunar New Year, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.) in order to learn more about different cultures.
The goal is to learn more about religious cultures and traditions, to develop ethical responsibility, and to awaken a sense of humanist values. With this in mind, in class we may:
- learn about the key texts of world religions
- discuss different belief systems (monotheism, polytheism, atheism, agnosticism)
- learn about important religious figures such as Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammed, Siddhartha, Buddha etc)
- raise awareness of the values of justice, freedom, dignity, peace, sharing, etc. by discussing a child’s own experiences or by researching key secular or religious figures (Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, etc.)
- identify the main Christian holidays and learn about their meaning (Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost) as well as the main holidays in other religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.)
- study religious art (architecture, music, paintings) in connection with the themes discussed in class.
We respect the beliefs and freedom of conscience of all (whether to follow a religion or not).
Why do students learn an additional language starting in preschool?
At preschool age, the brain structure of a young child is so flexible that learning two languages at once is no more difficult for them than learning a single language. The younger the child, the easier they perceive and reproduce sounds different to that of their mother tongue. It has been proven that language acquisition follows a biological calendar: sounds are acquired up to age 5, and grammatical structures up to age 8. It is important therefore to seize the opportunity to teach children a second language starting in preschool.
Bilingualism has no negative effect on the acquisition of a child’s native language. On the contrary, bilingualism can help children gain a finer understanding of their mother tongue. By way of constant comparison, bilingual children are more at ease with the analysis of grammatical structures and with the manipulation of vocabulary. Early acquired mechanisms for language learning can be transferred to the learning of any other language later in life, and even to the learning of other subjects.
Bilingualism is also a cultural asset, being a synonym of open-mindedness and tolerance. Bilingual children discover the existence of other cultures, countries, and thought systems at a much younger age than their monolingual peers, which stimulates their natural curiosity. In a similar way, bilingual children learn early on how to adapt easily to different situations. It is more natural and easier for them to communicate with children who speak a language other than their own native tongue.
Is your school a Montessori school?
No, our school is not officially affiliated with Montessori. While our teachers are trained in its methods and each classroom has Montessori activities at the disposition of students, we believe that there is no one perfect pedagogy for all children, and as such use a mix of different pedagogies to adapt to the needs of each child.
Our preschool, Year 1 and Year 2 are heavily Montessori-based as we believe that at this age children learn best through manipulation and self discovery.
From Year 3 on, the presence of Montessori is less striking in our classrooms as manipulation and self discovery give way to other kinds of active learning such as group work, experiments, presentations, peer review, mindmaps, etc. Teachers of older Year groups may choose to integrate Montessori principals in specific lessons or to help students who need a concrete visualisation of abstract notions in order to progress.