Despite not having any background in the French language, this multicultural family felt that enrolling their child at International French School (Singapore) was the best choice they made.
International French School (Singapore) is known for its excellent French-English bilingual programme. The school also provides students with a multilingual environment, where they are exposed to Mandarin as well – on top of French and English – from kindergarten level.
This offering at IFS is one of the biggest draws for Lana and Jimmy Molyneux. The couple realised that their daughter Leia is quite good at learning languages. Growing up in a multicultural family, Leia has been speaking both English and Korean since she was a baby. She’s also able to grasp Chinese well from attending a local preschool at age three. As such, Lana and Jimmy thought that it would be great for Leia to pick up French, another widely spoken language.
The couple was initially nervous for Leia as none of them have any exposure or background in the French language. However, the educators at IFS assured them and were confident that they can make it work for Leia. In a little over a year, Leia is able to understand English, French, and Mandarin without difficulties. We had a chat with Lana and Jimmy to hear their story.
Hi Lana and Jimmy! Aside from its unique bilingual offerings, what else drew you to enrol Leia at IFS?
IFS follows the French education system, which is widely recognised for its rigour and in preparing children to learn and to think. The school offers two curricula: Classique (70% French, 30% English) and English Plus (50% French, 50% English). We chose the latter for Leia so she gets to learn both languages at the same time.
Another reason is the global network of French language schools that IFS is part of. It has links with 522 schools in 139 countries. This means that in the event of relocation, we can move to another school within the network without worrying about Leia having to change systems.
But ultimately, it was seeing how happy the students are at IFS that made us choose the school. We saw how students enjoy attending the school during an open house event. There are also no barriers between students and teachers. Everyone seems to be always ready to listen to one another. We can really imagine Leia enjoying this environment.
Was it tough for Leia to follow the lessons in the beginning, since neither she nor anyone in the family speaks French?
It’s true that none of us know any French, and Leia joined the school without any knowledge of the language. The great thing is that IFS offers intensive French lessons (FLSco) in its Primary School for students who don’t know French, and it takes place during the school day.
We were initially nervous about this, but the school was confident to make it work for Leia. In fact, she really enjoyed FLSco as French is taught through a lot of games and activities in small groups. Now, she can follow classes in French and English, and even Mandarin lessons, without any difficulties.
That’s amazing! How else did IFS help her feel welcome?
There’s always a staff member greeting students at the gate in the morning. Leia has also told me that she can easily find school staff and teachers everywhere, so she knows who to go to when she needs help.
What are the facilities at IFS like?
IFS has plenty of space and resources, so we think Leia has a lot of opportunities for learning. It has modern and fully equipped classrooms, semi-Olympic-size swimming pools, sports fields and stadiums, assembly halls, indoor gyms, and libraries for each age group, just to name a few. There’s also a new primary school building that’s under construction, which will provide even more space for students to learn.
What does Leia like most about IFS?
She enjoys playing with her friends, and she likes her teachers very much. Leia also loves her school lunches and snacks – it’s one of the first things she tells us about when she chats about her day at school. We’ve seen the menu and the food selection looks really good!
Does IFS have a dedicated community for parents?
Yes, IFS puts a lot of effort into building a community for parents. For example, the school has parents’ coffee mornings every month to listen to our feedback. This is also an opportunity for us to meet other parents, which is great especially if you’re a new family to the school.
Besides this, IFS has committee members who are elected from the parent community. These committee members represent the parent community, coordinate with parent class representatives, meet with the school’s pedagogical leadership, and act as relay between school leadership and the parent community. They also manage school events like book fair and school celebration day, and even provide financial support to families in need.
Are you satisfied with the level of communication you receive from IFS?
Definitely. IFS and its parents’ committee are always ready to listen to us, as they don’t want to miss anything from parents and students. You’ll get lots of emails about school events and reports as an IFS parent. The teachers reply to email enquiries really fast too.
What do you value most about this school?
We value the harmony and balance that IFS embodies. We really think that the school knows what they’re doing, both academically and socially. It has a solid academic offering as well lots of extracurricular activities for them to participate in. IFS does a lot to build a sense of harmony and community, be it through parents’ meetings or family activities, including charity fundraisers.
Last question: do you have any advice for parents who are still looking for a school?
There are many things to consider, but we’d say the most important one is for parents to imagine whether they can see their child enjoying the school. Even if the school offers the best facilities or programmes, it’ll never work if the child doesn’t enjoy attending the school.
Thank you for sharing, Lana and Jimmy!
This post is in partnership with International French School (Singapore).