Learning English has almost become a compulsory part of a child’s curriculum, right behind French and math. Over the past 20 years, schools all over the world have stepped up their language programs, particularly for non-English speakers.

At The Garden Academy, in our three Paris schools, English isn’t an option, it’s a priority. We offer children aged 2 to 10 a mixed Franco-American program and immersion in the English language thanks to our team of 100% native English-speaking teachers.

Complete immersion

Since the creation of The Garden Academy and the opening of our schools in Paris, our teachers have developed a global teaching method and multiple pedagogies to apply our ethos within our classrooms. When developing our curriculum and approach to teaching and learning, we take inspiration from many different sources like Montessori, Freinet, Reggio Emilia, STEM or from the American curriculum. This along with the staff who know what techniques to apply depending on the situation or child and that the kids are consistently having fun, are engaged and most importantly happy while learning English. Children can learn a language from a range of different sources or contexts, whether it be an online video course, classes or lessons in person or video games and apps. However, the best and most authentic way to improve the childrens’ level of English is through immersion in an English environment with native speakers.

However, our program has been built on a single premise: exposure to a language is essential to its learning. That’s why we’ve recruited native English-speaking staff, offered all-English days for preschoolers, extracurricular activities and vacation courses, and Anglo-French days for kindergarten classes. Our teachers don’t just give lessons, they offer children an immersive experience in English with our native English-speaking teachers giving workshops about life, cultural events, arts, sports, gardening and many other subjects. We’re not offering a course, but an international experience in the heart of Paris. At The Garden Academy, children are immersed in the English language and culture by being exposed to people (the teacher) who talk with a native accent, model the pronunciation and guide the class through a course of fun engaging activities that develop their speaking, listening, writing and grammar. Along with the native English speakers that make up our teaching staff we also have the international culture thanks to the other children of various nationalities: expatriates from all over the world, French families returning to France after an experience abroad, and French people from bilingual families or not. At The Garden Academy, all levels of English are accepted.

Language level

We welcome children aged 2 to 5, from the Native English speakers to those with zero exposure, at our three schools in Paris. For our extracurricular workshops and vacation courses, children up to 10 years of age can be enrolled. Within each age group, we then form groups based on level to follow our class structure, which are organized as workshops rather than classes: this enables us to cater for all language levels (English or French), with individualized learning and a method adapted to each child. The language level is established after several weeks spent with the child, giving everyone a chance to acclimatize before being able to express themselves fully. After this time of observation and analysis, our teachers are able to determine the level of each child, as well as the learning methods that will be most suitable for them; all this in close collaboration with the families. Our native English-speaking teaching team offers children support in an environment where they are totally immersed in English whilst having fun with hands-on activities rich in educational content. The kids will learn vocabulary of everyday life, learning through singing, through games, hands-on experience with and exposure to the language. We have a range of activities that develop the kids’ speaking, listening, writing and grammar. The teachers have the skills and ability to make sure the kids are engaged, challenged but having fun and enjoying their time whilst also completing the educational goals as well. The key aspect is that the children are engaged and having fun within the English environment and having activities that are adaptable to their level enables them to succeed whilst learning English during their lesson!

Follow-up with families

Our teaching and educational teams regularly discuss their children’s in class progress with their families: their strengths and areas for improvement, the teaching methods they are offered, the type of games they are introduced to, the readings they are given in class… This follow-up enables parents to know where their child is at – in English and elsewhere – what difficulties he or she may be encountering, what he or she particularly likes to learn, what he or she enjoyed most during the day, whether progress is on course or whether the child is on the verge of reaching a new stage. At this moment, parents can continue learning English at home. It’s not a question of giving English lessons to their child or taking on the role of a teacher and asking him or her to learn a vocabulary lesson, but rather of continuation of the immersion that the kids experience in the class by instilling small (and good) habits in the child’s daily life: reading a book in English, a nursery rhyme in English, a cartoon in English… Families also like to get hold of the English board games and toys that we recommend and use in class: It’s a great way to share and participate in the language learning process with your child, to make the moment more enjoyable, to be there if they have questions to help them progress, and if they feel the need, to express their personal observations to The Garden Academy teachers. We encourage all the families to discuss and talk with the teaching team when coming to the classes to pick up or drop off the children. This creates an immediate form of communication and can help learn about the day, what the students learn about in class or where things can improve.

Apps and other online content in English

Regular exposure to the language is essential to progress in English whether it be improving fluency, pronunciation, speaking & listening, writing & grammar, vocabulary & reading and the additional exposure at home is a real opportunity to ensure an increase in their progression.

Many parents are tempted to download edutainment applications in English. Whether it’s an online website for a writing lesson or Apps such as Babbel, videos, online tools that can help children familiarize themselves with the language or online classes like video-conferencing teachers and intensive courses. There is no doubt there will be some progress in English and that these avenues work to some degree. However, there is no replacement for complete immersion in an English speaking environment with qualified native English-speaking teachers. The results with online courses and apps show that they are indeed among the most effective devices for teaching a child the basics of English, but that they are not able to facilitate the development of a good accent, speaking fluent, natural English and becoming bilingual. This is the difference between students being immersed in a class environment with people speaking and modeling a native accent and application which would still help the kids learn and develop their language skills but is limited in terms of the speaking, listening and pronunciation in a real voice.

English books to enrich your vocabulary

Books can also be a great source of language learning: it’s just a question of choosing the right books for your child’s age and level of English! Reading that’s too easy may entertain the child, but it won’t improve his or her level. On the other hand, reading that’s too laborious could make your child lose interest and become discouraged. They’ll give up reading and won’t want to repeat the experience.

Books are full of new vocabulary, which, when used in a given context and illustrated with drawings or pictures, enable children to grasp their meaning even when they don’t know them. Reading also allows them to stop for a moment at a word they don’t understand and ask an adult for help: the desire to know the end of the story will arouse their curiosity!

The best way to learn English by reading is to choose educational books, adapted to the child’s age and language level. At The Garden, we aim to have a collection of books that caters to all ages, interests and levels. Whether is be books filled with images and color, focused less on the reading part but on sounds associated with a theme like animals, sounds or audio books that portray a native accent and tell a story giving the kids a the ability to follow along and read with the audio or the slightly more wordy books for the students who enjoy reading. Story time is a great moment of immersion with the teacher (or parent) to develop pronunciation and listening skills, whether it be a topical book or fiction there is always something to study and learn. Reading should be accompanied by a parent to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the child’s age and level of English, to help work out the meaning of vocabulary that the child may not understand. As early as kindergarten, they are introduced to reading and writing, as is the case in American education, where these skills are introduced earlier than in France. This blended program, combined with the native English-speaking international teaching staff, gives the children at The Garden Academy a real window on the world from an early age. The Garden academy has a small library of books at each school which the teaching staff use within their lessons on a daily basis. Additionally, stemming from the Reggio Emilio pedagogical methods, the design of the classrooms is done so that the children can take a book and read at their own pace and leisure, this lets them explore on their own and develop their imagination at the same time as learning English!

This class environment allows the children to pick and choose which books they would like to read, this also allows the teacher to study their level and monitor their progress and engagement. Depending on the theme of the class work, the books are often used during group activities as a centerpiece providing a visional support to the content the kids learn.

We work with a number of English-language publishing houses to select the best English-language children’s books on the market: from must-have classics to educational works, from albums to read and touch, from world-famous sagas to new titles… We offer dozens of English-language references in our online bookshop for all ages, all levels and all tastes! To progress, children need to enjoy reading: they’ll want to learn the vocabulary they don’t know, and continue the experience by choosing other books. The pleasure of learning is essential for assimilating new notions, which is often not the case with online courses or videoconference lessons, an online tutor, which lacks any playful interest for children. We encourage our families at The Garden to buy the books used in our classes for the kids to read at home. This extension of the course work increases their exposure and is a great way to share a moment as a family whilst continuing to work on the childs’ English skills.

When you choose a book from our online bookshop, you’ll discover works that are tested and approved by English-speaking teachers trained in early childhood and active teaching methods. You’ll also have access to all the latest trends in children’s literature, such as manga, and timeless favorites like Harry Potter. Whether your child is old enough to read or not, you’ll discover a wide choice of books in English: audio or tactile books, images to learn vocabulary, fairy tales that you can read to your child if you’re at ease in English… And if you need any advice, you can always write to us at thestore@thegarden.fr.