Multilingual education

Language learning is at the heart of FIS. We aim to ensure all students finish their schooling with an excellent command of at least French and English. To achieve this, we offer several language pathways depending on the campus, year group and your child’s language level.


A unique bilingual environment

For French speakers, FIS offers the best of both worlds. You can ensure your child maintains an excellent standard of written and spoken French, while also learning English intensively both in class and during extracurricular activities.

For non-French speakers, our international stream offers your child a one-of-a-kind opportunity. They benefit from being continuously exposed to the French language, while following a traditional international curriculum. International students who complete all their schooling with us generally leave the school with native level English and French, enabling them to pursue university studies in France if they wish.

Our students hail from over 40 different countries. And we are proud to provide a unique multicultural environment in which they can mix and learn from one another, across streams and year groups. Students often use English and French interchangeably on campus. In fact, bilingualism and even trilingualism is common, as students also have the option to study other modern languages.

Language pathways in the French stream

Choosing the French stream means choosing an international experience!

FIS offers several language pathways depending on the campus, year group and your child’s English level. Students in all pathways follow the French national curriculum. The main differences between the pathways are the language of instruction and the pace of learning.


At kindergarten


    In kindergarten, all students follow this unique and innovative programme. It is also gradually being implemented at primary level. 

    This pathway involves a split class system, where the French curriculum is co-taught in both languages, with a French-speaking and an English-speaking teacher in the same lesson. 

    Both streams share campuses and playgrounds, meaning French stream students benefit from mixing with and learning from their international stream classmates. Teachers work closely together and have introduced shared projects, which bring together students from both streams, providing an ideal setting for communicating in both French and English.

At primary


    This pathway involves a split class system, with the French curriculum co-taught in both languages (a French-speaking and an English-speaking teacher in the same lesson). It also includes work on shared projects with international stream classmates.


    Teaching is split equally between French-speaking and English-speaking teachers (one day in French, followed by one day in English). Students also work on shared projects with their international stream classmates. From CM1 onwards, teaching focuses on culture and literature from the United States.

    However, this pathway is only available with approval from your child’s French and English teachers. Depending on their progress, students can join and leave this pathway at any time during their schooling.

CM2 students can choose to sit Cambridge A2 Key or B1 Preliminary exams, which certify their English proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Your child will also be exposed to Chinese culture and language (Simplified Chinese, Mandarin dialect) throughout their time at FIS.

And they can choose to improve their knowledge in this area through an extracurricular activity (ECA). For our youngest students and beginners, FIS offers workshops to improve spoken language and expressions used in day-to-day life. More advanced learners (YCT2 – YCT6) and native speakers (with at least one Chinese-speaking parent) can attend two sessions a week to improve their writing and speaking skills.

At lower secondary and upper secondary


    Students have four hours of English lessons a week 


    This section includes two additional hours of traditional subjects (such as Sciences, Drama and Mathematics) taught in English in small groups. In total, students have six hours of English lessons a week. 

  • AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SECTION (up to Seconde) / BFI (Première – Terminale)

    The American International Section leads to the International French Baccalauréat (BFI).

    The aim of the section is to create an environment for our students that provides the same linguistic and cultural level in both French and English.  During their 5 hours of literature, 1 hour of drama and 2 hours of History-geography instruction in English, they will find themselves in another teaching environment with a different approach which will allow them to understand and adapt to the varied ways in which other cultures view the world and approach problem-solving, communication, mediation, persuasion.

    However, the true value of the SIA lies in the place it occupies at the heart of the French education system, allowing our students to benefit from the academic rigour and cultural wealth of the French system combined with an international teaching approach. The syllabus and the diplomas (Brevet  International option and BFI–International French Baccalaureat) are officially and jointly accredited by the French Education Ministry and the College Board in the USA.

    → However, this section is only available with approval from our pedagogical team.

    More about the BFI American Section

ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE STUDY – 2.5 hours of language lessons a week, with a choice between Mandarin, Spanish and German

Students can also choose to take Latin.

ORIENTAL SECTION (upper secondary)

This section offers two hours of non-language subjects (History and Geography of China) taught in Mandarin.

Language pathways in the international stream

Choosing the international stream means choosing schooling in English, enhanced by continuous exposure to French.

All international stream students in kindergarten and primary take the same language pathway. From lower secondary, students choose whether to study French more intensively or to discover other languages.  


At kindergarten


All TKO students, and RC to Y3 students at JL campus, benefit from this new research-based language pedagogy, offering:

  • French as a Foreign Language (FLE) lessons (4 x 45 mins per week, taught in two groups)
  • French and English co-teaching in early years and primary (2 x 90 mins per week)
  • shared projects (in art, sports, etc.) with French stream Moyenne Section students (1 x 90 mins per week)

Students learn French, interact and use their knowledge and skills in a natural way through different projects and contexts. As well as gaining language skills, students forge new friendships and relationships with each other and with teachers.


At primary

As the French International School, we pride ourselves on offering a rigorous and extensive French programme to complement classroom learning, while also giving students the opportunity to learn an additional language. Each year group is taught by native French speakers. Students have four lessons per week, with each lasting 45 minutes. We also provide home learning activities and a dedicated French learning website for international stream primary students.

Examples of learning aims for various year groups:

  • Year 3: to develop listening and speaking skills as well as starting to write a short message with a few simple sentences
  • Year 4: to reach level A1* (Breakthrough) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • Year 5: to develop grammar skills such as using different tenses (near future, future and passé composé), consolidating key structures (il y a, il faut, ce n’est pas, etc.) and developing vocabulary and the use of connectors
  • Year 6: to reach level A2* (Elementary) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages


The Mandarin programme provides students with opportunities to learn basic and intermediate phrases that can be used in day-to-day life. It aims to help students develop oral communicative competence and gain a greater appreciation of the Chinese language and culture.

  • students have one Mandarin lesson per week, from NS all the way through to Y7
  • in each lesson there is a specialist teacher and two specialist teaching assistants so that students can be taught in groups tailored to their abilities
  • parents can sign their child up to a range of Mandarin extracurricular activities if they would like them to spend more time on this language
  • we provide home learning activities and a dedicated Mandarin learning website for international stream primary students


At lower secondary and upper secondary

Y7 to Y9

French is compulsory (three hours per week). There are four different levels: Standard (beginners), Intermediate (two to three years of study), Higher (near-native level) and Advanced (native speaker level). This means we can teach French in smaller class sizes.

There is also a choice of Spanish or Mandarin (three hours per week). Spanish is for non-native speakers of the language. Mandarin has two different levels: Standard (foreign language level) and Higher (near-native/native level)


Y10 & Y11 – International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum

French as a First Language – students at this level will prepare to sit the DELF examinations and the French A IBDP option. This includes the study of literature.


French as a Foreign Language – this is for students who are still learning French. Students sit either DELF exams or the relevant IGCSE exam.


Spanish as a Foreign Language – this is for non-native speakers of Spanish.


Mandarin as a Second Language – this is for students with a high level of Mandarin.


Mandarin as a Foreign Language – for students who are still acquiring the language, and not of native speaker level.

Y12 & 13 – International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP)

GROUP 1 – language and literature: French (A) Literature HL or SL – this is for students who have a native level of French, be it from previous studies at FIS or elsewhere. This will lead to the IB bilingual diploma.

GROUP 2 – language acquisition: Mandarin (B), French (B), Spanish (B) – all at HL or SL – these are courses for students who are still acquiring the language and are not native speakers.

French Ab Initio – SL only – this is a beginners-only course for students who wish to study the language.