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Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley4
Posted November 04, 2014
- a parent
Having had two children go through EB we can say that the administration and the teachers are very creative and completely dedicated to the education and emotional development of children. The school community is inclusive and extremely diverse. Our kids grew up knowing that every human, regardless of the color of their skin, are equal in every way. They have made life-long friends because of EB. Our children's French are instilled in them (our household is NOT French speaking) so I'm glad we gave this gift to our children. Is any school, private or public, perfect? Of course not. It is up to the entire community to work together to create an environment that brings about positive ideas, cooperation and a great place for learning and having fun. I am forever indebted to EB for the nurturing environment and dedicated teachers my children experienced. The annual World Celebration event, the March , the trips to Catalina Island/France/Washington DC, are some of the things my kids will always remember. And the new outdoor learning areas will create permanent and wonderful opportunities for future generations of worldly learners.
I have two children that went to EB, the last one graduated last year. There are many things I would agree with in the previous reviews, including the global diversity. In my 15 year experience of EB, I did find the administration to be 'snooty', but not the majority of the parent body. It was not my experience that EB was particularly diverse either racially or socio-economically. The school is moving away from it's more inclusive roots and towards being an elite academy. It is very expensive, but as the previous reviewer stated, this is in line with other private schools. There are good teachers there, and there are also some mediocre teachers particularly in the middle school, and given the cost of tuition I would expect all the teachers to be of the highest caliber. Overall I feel that EB is not worth the money, I would have put my kids in Prospect Sierra or Head Royce but-and this is the big hook-we are a French speaking family and I wanted my kids to have the language. The kids coming out of EB have perfect accents but their grammar is atrocious as it's very hard to truly learn a language without it being reinforced in the home.
Our son is at EB. This is a review, five years into the French immersion school, with no French at home. I'm focusing on aspects that concern parents I have talked to: (1) "Is it snooty?" No. We find good socio-economic diversity at EB. Most impressive is the global diversity; your child will be ''in the world'' from the get go. . (2) Are the teachers good? Yes. The teachers in all 5 years thus far have mainly been terrific. The way they know your individual child is amazing. (3) Do they downplay art & music? No. Art and music are a natural part of the curriculum especially in the Lower School. Art was important to us when we were looking. The music teacher is also wonderful. (4) Is it big? Not at all; the class sizes are small and the parent community is engaged and diverse. (5) Is it too expensive? Hard to make that call. Private schools are expensive; EB is in line with others. We made an all-things-considered judgment about EB v. other great schools. No school is ''perfect''. But EB helps you to raise a globally comfortable, well-rounded, confident child, in addition to providing high-quality academics and an integrated art curriculum. We have never regretted our choice.
When we were faced with having to pick a school/kindergarten for our daughter last year we had a few very solid choices and although we wavered for a while and initially thought that we were going to go with a different school, we ultimately picked Ecole Bilingue. I cannot say how happy we are that we made this decision. We really love the school, as does our five year old. The faculty and administrators and support staff are all great and treat us like we are part of an extended family and the parent community has also been very welcoming. And last week during a break when we were worried that she might lose some of the French (her first encounter with French was pretty much when she started at EB in September), she started speaking to me in French, correctly using some pretty complicated grammar. I can only say that I was almost speechless. I really can't say enough how happy we are that we chose to send our daughter to EB. Suffice to say that she has a baby sister who we hope will also join her there in a few years.
Ecole Bilingue We have 2 children at EB. We think the school is fabulous. Our first child was ''quiet'' and we thought he would get lost / overwhelmed at a bigger school so we were happy with the small class sizes at EB. With 2 adults in the K classes the kids often work in small groups getting a lot of individual attention. Because it is a language school a lot of time is spent drawing the children out and getting them to communicate with one another. The cultural diversity is huge. Native French speaking children who have arrived from countries all over the world are in every class. We looked at some schools where all work was project based and there were no ''traditional'' workbooks or writing assignments. EB does have these traditional elements to the curriculum, but there are many non-traditional activities too, particularly in the younger grades. They have gardening, music, cooking, computer, library and field trips. They have classroom visitors from the SF Opera, professional acrobats, authors and many of the parents who come in to share their stories and talents. Most important is the teachers - smart, committed and fun. They make the school.
EB is a great school (both middle and lower)! My older daughter is an alum and a senior at Head-Royce, where she has done very well in all her classes, including math, science, and French. She s really enjoying BC calculus this year, and will go to Tufts as an engineering major in the fall. My younger daughter is currently in the middle school, and she loves it. Yes, she does have a lot of homework, but is learning a lot. She has math in both French and English (mostly non-overlapping topics), and I think this is a great way to learn different approaches to math. The lower school is currently expanding its outdoor space (taking over property next door) to include an amphitheater, soccer field, basketball courts and more. Middle schoolers will be able to use the new space for PE during the day (two-block walk).
EB has excellent and very enthusiastic teachers, a very rigorous academic program, and a variety of extracurricular activities. We had two kids at EB, who started half way lower school after we had moved to Berkeley. The oldest is now a junior at the International High School in San Francisco and he is doing great, the other one will be graduating from EB at the end of this year. Our oldest one was definitely well prepared for high school, and we are confident for the younger one. They both loved the school. I see other reviewers whose kids seem to have had some less positive experience after transitioning to high school. Obviously, in terms of school, there is no one size fits all . I do see that the bilingual EB curriculum is demanding and might not suit all children. Ours got all the support they needed from the teachers when they needed it. There are also plenty of resources available at the school to help with the French immersion (books, magazines, and videos at the library, summer programs).
Both my kids went to EB lower school and middle school. They graduated not so long ago, and were extremely well prepared for high school, being trilingual in French, English and Spanish, and also really strong in math (they teach algebra and geometry starting in G1), science (they teach both biology, physics and chemistry) and computer literacy (integrated one to one laptop program at the middle school). They are both among the top students in their classes. The work ethics, critical thinking, academic skills and love of learning they have acquired at EB will stay with them all their life. EB is a wonderful school with a close-knit community and nurturing teachers. Definitely worth checking.
I definitely agree with the reviewers who said to go to Ecole Bilingue until 5th grade. The curriculum during that time is great, good teachers, a one-on-one experience. In middle school, it's a whole other story. The teachers say, "Your child will be fully prepared when they go to high school. They'll be at the same level as other students at different schools." That's because they cram everything in the last years, especially 8th grade. Basically all of the students are weak in math, science, social studies, English, and more. They only start doing basic math i.e., adding fractions, in 6th grade. As well as that, their French program is poor. If you don't speak French at home, even after 9-10 years, it's difficult to have a conversation in French. Most teachers do not give enough support to the students, some give off a sort of apathetic vibe. Despite that, the laptop program is definitely beneficial. EB puts a lot of emphasis on community-building. There are great programs, sometimes even put together by students, to work together as a community. Overall, this school definitely does a poor job on preparing for high school. Below average.
I am writing this review, at least in part, in response to the reviews posted in October and June of 2011. Transition from middle-school to high school is difficult and I am sympathetic for the trials of the parents who wrote the negative comments. Our experience at EB has been entirely different and very positive. We have had two daughters at EB since "mid- kindergarten". One is still in middle school and the other is in high school. EB is a small school that our children absolutely love. As parents, we are very satisfied with the academic rigor and the social environment. My oldest daughter graduated from EB middle school last year and is now in the International Baccalaureate track at Berkeley High School. She is really thriving at BHS and has been doing very well in math (honors geometry) and her other subjects. She was well prepared for high school and has brought great learning skills (note-taking, writing, organizing, etc.) from EB to her new environment. My younger daughter is still in middle school and she is maturing into a well-rounded, well-educated young-adult. EB is really a very sophisticated and diverse environment. It is working great for our children!