It is during the four years of Middle School (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade) that the English language takes on its true meaning at EABJM, as a working tool and a communication medium. At each level, approximately 45% of instruction takes place in English, with English mother tongue teachers. Curriculum content, however, doesfollow the French national curriculum, except in English language and literature.
The teaching of French in the lower school (collège) is based on three principles: mastering spoken and written French, acquiring cultural knowledge , and the student developing on a personal level. Moreover, this personal development will allow students to be all the more creative and autonomous as they will be able to use and analyse the main elements of French writing: narration, description, dialogue and argumentation.
Our current emphasis is on improving students' writing. We hope to achieve this by providing students with the grammatical tools needed for use in creative and analytical writing; and by exposing students to a wide variety of cultural texts: in 6ème these range from key works from the Ancient World to those from the nineteenth century, in 5ème texts are taken from the medieval period, and finally, in 4ème and 3ème students study twentieth century texts. As the curriculum contains few restrictions and allows for a wide choice of reading, here at the school we are taking advantage of that freedom to try our best to use active teaching methods where reading,and creative and analytical writing combine to challenge further our students. As a result of these methods our 3ème students will be better prepared for the demands made on them when joining the upper school (lycèe).
It will therefore not be surprising for parents to see innovative teaching methods used here at the school; methods which are based on the desire to provide their children with the best cultural and linguistic tools, and which consequently, give students the best opportunities to develop on both a personal and an academic level.
By the time they reach Middle School, students’ command of the English language enables them to use it as a working tool in the experimental sciences, history and geography, which are taught in English. In English per se, students are taught in groups according to their level of proficiency, from ESL (English as a Second Language) to EMT (English Mother Tongue). Teaching methods, textbooks and other aids all come from the U.S. or the U.K. In 9th grade, all our students prepare to sit at the end of 10th grade the English first langage and English Literature IGCSE exams.
A small number of highly motivated new students with little or no English are admitted in 6th grade. A special intensive English program brings those students quickly to a level where they can join their peers in the English-taught sciences, history and geography classes.
Throughout Middle School, Math is taught to students grouped by ability in order to challenge the more advanced students while enabling others to progress at their grade-expected pace. Students are constantly monitored so they can be placed in the most suitable group. Math teachers work together in search of better methods and tools, whether acquired or developed by the Math department. They attend and participate in French and international seminars in order to stay abreast of pedagogical research worldwide.
Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences are taught in English in Middle School. An experimental program is currently being developed at EABJM. This project, which has been endorsed by the Ministère de l’Éducation Nationaleemerged from conversations in the fall of 2004 with Georges Charpak, 1992 Physics Nobel laureate and trustee of the Fondation Jeannine Manuel. Georges Charpak’s vision is to extend the general principles of La Main à la Pâte to Middle School students. The new curriculum is being developed at EABJM with the invaluable help of a team of scientists affiliated with the Maison des Sciences team of the ESPCI (Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris). Further details are provided in the downloadable PDF documents below.
History and Geography
In Middle School, English mother tongue teachers, educated in their home countries, teach History and Geography in English. The focus is on independent research and the critical reading of original documents, including primary sources, rather than simply on textbooks. In 7th grade, the syllabus comes to life with the Living History project; it is structured around a monthly visit to a site whose history is directly linked to the theme being studied.
In 8th and 9th grade, a native teacher teaches French history in French while an English mother tongue teacher teaches the rest of the syllabus in English. Students are thus able not only to place French history in the context of that of the rest of the world, but also to develop a critical understanding of the diverse perspectives brought to the subject by teachers of different backgrounds.
In 6th grade, students can study an additional language (besides French and English). They may opt to continue to study the Asian language begun in Lower School, or to begin studying a new European language: German, Italian or Spanish. After the first two years, students are grouped, in each language, according to their level of proficiency and are strongly encouraged to sit certification exams, such as those administered by the Goëthe-Institut exams in German, the CLIDA (Centro Linguistico Italiano Dante Alighieri) in Italian and the DELE (Diplomas in Spanish as a Foreign Language) of the Cervantes Institute in Spanish, etc., all of which are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
In 8th grade, students who had elected to continue an Asian language may elect to begin studying a European language as a fourth language; a useful option for students who plan to move to a country where their school might not provide Asian language instruction.
The official French programs provide for four hours per week of Physical Education in 6th and 7th grade, and three hours in 8th and 9th grade. Starting in 8th grade, Physical Education teachers propose a number of options, in and around Paris and students are taken to the corresponding facilities by bus. Beyond this basic fare, the school’s Association Sportive sponsors a rich varsity program in a number of sports, under the supervision of our Physical Education teachers on Wednesday afternoons, where school teams compete against other French schools. Middle School students are strongly encouraged to join one of our teams.
In Middle School and in Upper School, EABJM’s Association Culturelle sponsors a wide range of extracurricular activities that are mostly available after school. The menu of these activities evolves constantly with the fluctuating appetites of our students, but also as a direct response to current events and the generous initiatives they so frequently elicit from the school community. A few of the staples include, theater (in French and in English), street dance, hip-hop, chorus, model-building, hiking, photography, music (classic, modern, rock), debate club—which, at EABJM, is tied to Model UN and other similar international student encounters—and many fundraising activities.