MOVED TO FRANCE AGED 12

Living France - - Insight -

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.”

ELLA’S TIPS

“Don’t worry about the lan­guage – tu­tor­ing be­fore­hand is es­sen­tial and to­tal im­mer­sion when you ar­rive. Then just let it hap­pen.”

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