Every parent in Monaco sooner or later faces a problem: which school to choose for their child. In this article we are going to present the 5 best International Schools on the French Riviera.
Perhaps you have already considered a bilingual school for your child. According to the research of Toronto University, it takes a person about 5-7 years to be fluent in a foreign language and 3 years to master conversation basics.
Parents spend a lot of time weighing “pros” and “cons” of bilingual education. First you need to find out your child’s motivation. Watch his/her environment, make sure s/he understands the necessity of learning a second language, and to pay particular attention to the school’s staff. Supportive parents and teachers must compensate the stress of a bilingual environment.
Always remember that parents are a prime example for children. Show your child that you are also interested in learning a foreign language and make an effort in that direction. Then it will not take him/her long to follow your example.
Now, to the point!
The bilingual French schools are usually 50% French and 50% English. We invite you to consider 5 institutions that meet the requirements of families moving to the French Riviera and Monaco.
The International School of Monaco
The International School of Monaco (ISM) is an obvious first choice. Its main goal is to teach children to think globally, and to make them hard-working and motivated students. The school was founded in 1994 and has since actively developed and grown. It has recently opened a new building in the port. Its bilingual program is based on academic rules, which prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB).
The ISM prides itself in its bilingual elementary section, teaching 7 to 11 year-olds both English and French. A school week is planned in such a way that children learn all the subjects in two languages: Monday and Thursday – French days, Tuesday and Wednesday – English. As for high school education, it is available in English language only.
Its diploma is acceptable by most prestigious world universities. A student can thus continue his education in the US, Canada, Great Britain and beyond. There is also an opportunity to study the Russian language.
But to be fair we would like to introduce you to other educational opportunities.
This school is located very close to the lovely town of Mougins. Opened in 1964, it is still the most prestigious school in the Cote d’Azur. Its world-renowned campus offers a British school program, educating children from the ages of 3 to 18. Today the school has about 510 students from 42 nationalities.
Its overall results for such exams as IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), AS and A-Levels are impressive. Over the past four years, the school has had a 100% passing rate for the A-Level exams.
Senior high school students are advised in their choice of a university by their tutors. They also get a professional orientation with ISCO (International school career orientation).
A nice campus, safe play areas, and easy access from the A8 motorway make the school a very attractive option. Its high academic level and a rich variety of extracurricular activities are a great resource to families moving to the Côte d’Azur.
The International School of Nice
The International School of Nice was opened 38 years ago. Its proximity to Monte Carlo makes its attractive to many Monegasque students. The school aims to “inspire, to support and educate its multicultural students in such a way that they become empathetic citizens of the world.” The ISN is the only school on the French Riviera that has a dual American and European accreditation: MSA (Middle State Association) and CIS (Council International Schools). This is a guarantee of a recognized and certified education for both European and American parents.
According to the international standards, the school teaches all subjects in English from the age of 4 to the graduating class. The students also get 5 French lessons per week.
In the 10th and 11th grades (age 14-16), children study 10 IGCSE subjects. This is an international version of the British GCSE. In the 12thand 13th grade, students master the IB (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program). The program is recognized by more than 120 countries, including the French Ministry of Education and is designed for two years. This diploma allows students to enroll in the world’s top universities.
The maximum class size is 22 students. Classes get smaller in high school. Featuring well-equipped classrooms, science laboratories, libraries, art and music studios, a theater for 300 spectators, a gym, a café, all season playfields and recreational areas.
Every student is engaged in extracurricular activities and clubs on Mondays and Thursdays from 3.45pm to 5.00pm. Sports options include rock climbing, karate, football, art, chess, circus, volleyball, basketball, theatre and art.
On school days, a school bus picks up the students in Monaco in the morning and drops them off at home in the afternoon.
Hot meals are provided for the children in the school cafeteria.
EBICA International School
The EBICA International School is located in Sophia Antipolis and teaches students from age 3 to 18. This is one of the youngest schools on the Riviera, founded in 2006. Its bilingual program guarantees a fluency in English and French for its students. The school admittedly takes into account the individual particularities of each student.
50% of the program is taught in English and 50% in French.
Age 3 to 11 – 9.000 euros per year
Age 11 to 16 – 14,000 Euros per year
Age 16 to 18 – 14,500- 16,500 Euros per year, depending on the curriculum selected.
The school offers 3 choices: The French Baccalaureate, The International Baccalaureate (IB) or a British A-level certificate. There are a variety of extracurricular activities, inspired by LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Drama), including public speaking, drama, playing various musical instruments, learning Italian or playing rugby. A child is thus free to develop his individual abilities and talents.
The International School Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
The International School Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur is located a long way away from Monaco. This is an option for your child only if you don’t mind a full weekly boarding.
The school has a reputation of one of the strongest academic institutions. It has its own campus and accommodation that make daily journeys there and back unnecessary. The school provides a bilingual curriculum and currently teaches six foreign languages (Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish). It operates on a principle of parity between French and a foreign language. 80% of classes in Junior High School (College) are taught in English.
Its major difference from all of the above institutions is that it is a state public school. It is therefore free of charge! While the tuition fees elsewhere range from 6,000 Euros for primary school to 15,000-17,000 Euros for high school per academic year.
All schools offer an educational system composed of 5 stages.
Preparatory courses (similar to kindergarten):
Stage 1- grades 1 to 5
Stage 2–grades 6 to 8
Stage 3 – grades 9 to 10
Stage 4 – grades 11 to 12
Here is an estimate of tuition fees at the international schools on the Riviera:
Pre-K & K – from 6,000 Euros
Grades 1-5 – 10,000 Euros
Grades 6-8 -13,000 Euros
Grades 9-10 – 15,000 Euros
Grades 11-12 – 17,000 Euros
You will find the exact amount in Tuition Fees section of each school’s website.
The tuition at the International School of Monaco (ISM) is the most expensive.
Click the link below to find more information about bilingual schools: www.ecolesbilingues.fr.
You may also find helpful a website by Rita Rozenbak, author of “Raising a bilingual child” and mother of two: www.multilingualparenting.com. You can also share your experiences and read stories of other families who live in a bilingual environment.
And of course the most invaluable experience of studying at an international school is to learn how to be independent from your parents and to meet people of different nationalities. It is a good skill for someone to take into adulthood in the third millennium.