Thursday, September 3, 2009

A new school year begins

Today is the first day back to school in the Dordogne. Crowds of excited children and parents gather at the school gates, many for the first time, waiting to meet new class teachers and classmates. For British parents here, it is not uncommon for them to find that their children soon acquire more French language and literacy skills than they have; this is, of course, fantastic. It is always surprising how quickly they acquire these new skills and there is no harm in speaking two languages fluently.
However, one thing that has niggled me for a while is how ex-pat parents support their children's learning in their first language; of course, they are speaking to them in English but what about developing their reading and writing skills? Many expats feel they will never return to the U.K but that doesn't mean their children might not want to. Besides, in the world today, a good grasp of the English language (in all its forms) is an important tool in getting ahead.
Last week, whilst researching an article on farming (long story), I stumbled across a forum post looking for an English teacher. It was posted by a British family keen to maintain their children's skills. I answered it straight away, met the family yesterday and start teaching next week. I can't wait! Whilst I love writing more than anything and would never abandon it to return to teaching full time, I have to admit I have missed teaching. The English language is so important to me that it is a joy to pass the skills on. It also makes me feel good to know that at least I'm helping some ex-pat children to keep in touch with their native tongue; having English as a first language is a real boon in the world today, to let it slide seems such a terrible pity ......................

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