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TES French Section touts bilingual strengths

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The French Section of Taipei European School (TES) yesterday held a brief introduction concerning its strengths for prospective parents ready to enroll their children in a fun learning environment.

With just under 200 students as of now, the French Section was first established in 1990 by French expats who wished to have their children study their mother language in a foreign land. Originally three separate schools sharing the same campus, the TES' British, French and German Sections merged into one school in 2002.

As English is taught in all three sections, students in the French section greatly benefit from learning to speak another language that is widely used in the world, said French Section Head Jean-Yves Vesseau.

Starting from its la petite section (3 to 4 years old), children in the French Section are introduced not only to the language, but also to a way to “live the language, so that they understand the values of this culture and are able to integrate these into everyday life,” said Vesseau.

The TES French-English Bilingual Program guides students through a challenging, yet rewarding curriculum that offers a range of knowledge unrivaled by almost any other; all teachers are certified in the United States, France or one of several other European nations, Vesseau said.

For parents who are worried about their child's equal development of English and French proficiency, the section head stressed that past students have scored impressive examination results, equivalent to their peers in Britain and France, and are given the same level of tests as in the two countries.

“When I first came to this school, I was impressed by the teachers and the number of projects that were going on; the atmosphere was excellent and as you can tell the teachers have a lot to give the students ... it is also amazing to see the children process their knowledge,” said Vasseau. “Instead of hammering things into their heads, the students are encouraged to think for themselves.”

In preschool and primary school, French Section students have access to both English and French classes on a half-and-half basis; the two languages are taught in two different classrooms and with very different ways of learning. “The culture goes with the language ... I have met many Taiwanese students in our French Section that have learned to speak fluent French,” said Vasseau.

In secondary school, French lessons amount to around 60 percent of the classes, but integrated classes blend students from all three sections together and are taught in English.

The school also provides a series of extracurricular activities for the students that teach them social skills and instill a sense of compassion.

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