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Public sector primary schools

Is EYL taught as an official part of the curriculum in public sector primary schools? It is not compulsory (other languages are taught) but is widespread
When was it introduced? 1989
At what age do students begin EYL? Year 4
Have any significant changes in teaching EYL taken place since 1980? In 1989 EYL was introduced in an experimental programme as one choice among other foreign languages for Years 4 and 5 with the aim of raising language awareness (sensibilisation). In September 1992 the experiment continued, but the emphasis shifted to more achievement in the FL (initiation) and greater use of the normal class teacher. Since 1995 a FL has been taught from Primary Year 2, age 7-8 years.
Is there any widespread teaching of English before the official starting age for compulsory EYL? It is not widespread, but there is some. If schools have a willing qualified teacher, they will introduce it in Year 1 (age 6, approximately) or even in Nursery School.
How many hours a week/school year are officially allocated for EYL? There have been changes over time (see above). 1989: 2-3hours per week for Years 4 and 5. 1995: 15 minutes per day x 4 days per week = 1hour for Primary 2 and 3, and 1.5 hours weekly for Years 4 and 5.
How many EYL teachers and students are there in the public education system? Teachers 24,615
Students 602,845
Note: Figures represent numbers of teachers and students involved in foreign languages in general at primary level in 1994/5. 71.9% of these were involved with English.
Who does the EYL teaching? • The children’s normal class teacher (44.9%)
• A person, not a qualified teacher, who knows English and who visits different schools to give lessons (14%)
• A secondary school teacher (35.3%)
• A foreign language assistant (4.1%)
• A French foreign language student (1.7%)
Note: Figures represent teachers of all foreign languages at primary level for 1994/1995
Who is eligible to teach EYL in the public education system? • An established primary teacher who has passed a local test or exam in English. (Official approval - agrément - is needed for a primary teacher to teach English. This involves a short oral interview with the Regional English School Inspector.)
• A primary teacher who has successfully completed a special in-service training course in English language and/or EYL methodology. (Some local education authorities organise in-service courses for primary teachers, but the agrément is also needed, as described above).
• A teacher who has had pre-service training at college or university and is qualified to become a teacher of English at primary level. (The teaching of a foreign language was reintroduced into the teacher training colleges in 1990).
• A teacher qualified to teach English at secondary school, but who is willing to work in primary schools.
• A university graduate of English who has not taken courses in Education or Teaching methodology.
• A native speaker of English who has no recognised qualifications as a teacher. (Such teachers are required to obtain authorisation and this normally involves an interview with an Inspector).
• Other: English Language Assistants from the Central Bureau for International Education and Training scheme. The class teacher should be present during the class.
Nationwide are schools able to recruit enough EYL teachers? No. The following steps are being taken to remedy the situation: Foreign languages have been reintroduced into the teacher training colleges. In-service training is being organised by local education authorities. Two courses for French primary school teachers of English are organised in Edinburgh and Colchester each summer.
What official guidelines exist for EYL teaching? A structured specification of content. (Content is listed by functions with examples of phrases and highlighted phonological features.)
Do EYL teaching materials have to be approved? Teachers may choose any published materials (local or international) provided they are within the school budget. In addition all schools are provided free with specially created video materials in the chosen language, with a Teacher’s Guide. These were published in 1995 by the CNDP (Centre National de Documentation Pédagogique). Two higher levels were published in 1996 and 1997. Teachers are not obliged to use these.
What materials are typically used? See above. There is a great tradition in France for teachers to use supplementary materials rather than coursebooks. Teachers like to use authentic materials such as videos, games, stories, puzzles and so on. The cultural aspect of teaching a foreign language (civilisation) is an important component in France.
What other foreign languages are taught at primary level? German, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and some others
Are any changes in the provision of EYL planned or anticipated? The discussion here is based around the systematisation and diversification of the teaching of foreign languages in France beginning in 1999, so that all students beginning with Year 5 of primary school will be taught a foreign language, and from 2000 all students in Year 4. However, the reality is that this still remains at the discussion level in many parts of France. The emphasis is on the development of spoken language for communication.

Private sector primary schools

Is there a significant number of these schools? Yes. Most private primary schools in France are under contract to the state. This means that the curriculum is the same as in public schools, teachers are paid by the Ministry of Education and the fees are very low.
What percentage of primary age children attends them?  Not stated
What differences in EYL provision exist from public sector primary schools? The only difference may be earlier introduction of a foreign language
What materials do they use for EYL? The same as in public primary schools


Private language schools

Is there a significant number of these schools? Yes. The British Council Young Learners’ Centre in Paris is prominent amongst them.
How many Young Learners take private language school classes? Not stated
How many hours of English is typically offered? Up to 6 per week
Is there any perceived conflict between public school and private language school provision in EYL? Children attending these schools will probably have more advanced English lessons, more hours of English (may be up to 6 per week) and the methodology will almost certainly be based much more on British practice
What materials do they use for EYL? A wide variety of published, in-house and authentic materials


Private tuition for Young Learners

Is there private tuition for primary age children? It exists, but not to a great extent. Classes are often organised in schools during the lunch hour or after school, which is a great convenience for working parents. Parents pay a small fee for these classes. The teacher could come from an outside organisation or from the school itself and be remunerated by, for example, a Parents’ Association.
How many Young Learners are involved? Not stated
What is the typical starting age for private tuition? May be before mainstream education
Why do parents use private tutors? Many French parents have a desire for their children to become bilingue but they generally have very unrealistic expectations and little understanding as to how long it takes to become truly bilingual.

Date information collected: 1999


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