MOVED TO FRANCE AGED 12
Ella Bailey (22) is doing an MA in Museum Studies at Durham University after graduating from Paris-Sorbonne University. She moved over to France when she was 12 and has British parents.
“I remember not understanding anything when I first started school in France. I’d done French at school and been tutored for over a year in the UK, but I was surprised at how little I understood. The school gave me a lot of help and support to catch up, but I remember not wanting to go to school because I didn’t understand. It was frustrating – I’d gone from being top of the class in the UK to not understanding anything in France. I resented being spoken to like an idiot – just because I didn’t speak French didn’t mean I knew nothing – and after two years I was fluent. I think that was my main motivation for learning French so quickly.
My parents were really supportive and we always spoke English at home, which I loved. It was like respite. Reading in English was a coping mechanism for me as well.
I think between 10 and12 is the last age when children should move over – it’s too difficult for teens when it comes to making friends and things like that.
I’m really glad my parents moved to France – the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. If any children are worried about moving to France, I would recommend it for sure. The benefits are immense – it has opened doors for me and I definitely plan to use my French in the future.”
“Don’t worry about the language – tutoring beforehand is essential and total immersion when you arrive. Then just let it happen.”