Sign up now for FREE to read our insider reviews in full Sign Up Now

View from the Top: Frederique Brisset on the benefits of growing up in a bilingual environment

For our latest View from the Top, we've handed over to Frederique Brisset, the principal of L'Ecole de Battersea. Offering the best bits of a French and British education, pupils leave this London prep school speaking fluent French and English – and below, Mme Brisset gets on her soapbox to explain why bilingualism is such a gift.

Charlemagne once said, 'To have another language is to possess a second soul.' In the heart of our bilingual school, a unique journey unfolds, blending the art of French and English. As the Principal of L’Ecole des Petits & L’Ecole de Battersea, I have the privilege of closely monitoring and assessing the development and progress of our pupils as they embark on their remarkable journey through bilingual education.

From cognitive advantages to a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, growing up in a bilingual environment unfolds as a vibrant and ever-expanding world of possibilities. Research consistently shows that bilingual individuals excel in problem-solving, critical thinking, and multitasking. More than that, bilingual or plurilingual education is undeniably a 'plus' for better understanding other cultures, fostering self-reflection on one's own culture, and opening minds to diverse perspectives. Children don't just acquire linguistic prowess but also exhibit exceptional qualities, such as faster adaptation, heightened flexibility, and an open-minded 'personality' that sets them apart.

Incorporating over 45 years of experience, our practices foster open-mindedness in an ever-evolving world. Our school’s story, steeped in the marriage of the French and English languages, is a journey close to my heart. Founded by Mrs. Otten, a Franco-Italian woman who married an English man, L’Ecole des Petits & L’Ecole de Battersea beautifully reflect their cross-cultural journey.

Whether it's celebrating a traditional French Galette des Rois or partaking in an English royal festivity, the blend of these two cultures creates a truly enriching atmosphere. Our schools welcome children of all backgrounds, irrespective of their French language proficiency (and at entry level they can have no knowledge of French at all, the younger the better to start), and provide tailored support to ensure a successful bilingual journey. By the end of our curriculum, we aim for every child to emerge truly bilingual and equipped to seamlessly integrate into French, English, or international schools.

At the core of a thriving bilingual journey, lies our dedicated teaching team, who transcend traditional roles to become language ambassadors, elegantly bridging two worlds. They bring not only robust language skills but also a unique cultural perspective and innovative teaching methods. Each teacher instructs in their mother tongue, ensuring a prosperous bilingual education, nurturing flexibility, adaptability, and heightened mental agility as pupils navigate multiple languages. This dynamic enriches teachers and equips pupils for a globalised world where cross-cultural comprehension is paramount for a successful bilingual education.

For parents of children growing up in a bilingual environment (or for those with future bilingual stars in the making!), the journey may have its challenges, but it's a remarkable and enriching path. In the world of language education, it's crucial to know that language growth isn't a perfectly synchronised dance. Sometimes, one language takes a lead, but don't worry—it's not a step back; it's a part of the learning journey, a bit like those 'rest' moments your brain needs, similar to a good night's sleep for growth. Patience and understanding are crucial, as learning another language can be demanding, and each child progresses at their own pace. Perseverance is key, as the efforts made at the start pay off over the medium or long term. This linguistic journey strengthens not just the mind but also the heart!