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robert smith


Hi I live in Alsace near Basel with my wife and son aged 6. He has attended the local ecole maternal and this year started CP.

The issue is he does not speak French very well. In fact he does not speak very much at all in either French or English.

My wife is Thai and only speaks English at home with him as we thought it best for him to start with English (this may well have been an error)

Otherwise he is quite bright and has not problems with computers math etc.

The school seems ill-equipped to cope with this because we live in a small village.

My French is passable but my grammer and accent is poor.

Can you suggest what we might be able to do about this ?

Kind Regards
Robert Smith

by robert smith on 11 Sep 2009
Fabienne Harris

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Dear Robert,

I would need further information concerning your son. Has he been assessed by a professional before?

As your son seems to function normally in every academic domain except for language, we should first see whether there is any physical problem involved in his delay. I would therefore advise you to visit a paediatrician so that he can be examined properly and undergo a few tests.

Does the delay seem to involve both understanding and speaking or more one domain than the other?

Have you observed any other particular difficulties, such as in the way he communicates?

Does your son try to engage conversation with you; does he try to grab your attention? Does your son make eye contact with you and does he attend to what you do on a regular basis? How's his motricity - Does he draw, colour, walk, jump, run normally (in comparison to peers of the same age)?

If tests have already been done, I'd like to know what information you received and whether he benefits from any speech therapy or global treatment at the moment, in addition to school?

Concerning your dilemma between English and French, you need to stick to one language at the moment. Otherwise your son will be lost in too much information.

The equation for choice should include 2 elements: what language your son seems to be most comfortable with; What language he is most in contact with in his every-day environment.

Are you planning to stay in France for long? If not, you need to also consider the long-term consequences of learning a particular language. Will French serve him in the future, if you ever decide to move away from France? If your wife doesn't speak French, could she learn the language?

Do let me know the answers to my questions as well as your thoughts on this last set of paragraphs. I'll be able to complete my answer with the new elements you send me.

Best regards,
Fabienne Harris

by Fabienne Harris on 21 Sep 2009

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