Current issues

Non-French Speaking Students

The French Ministry of Education has made a commitment to helping non-French speaking students better adapt to their education in France. This is done through special assessments, specific class placement, and programmes tailored to teaching French as a second language. The programme has the most participants among Primary age students, though most Lower Secondary students in the programme have the greatest success.

Non-French Speaking Students

Reaffirmed within the French Education Law of 2013 is the need and encouragement to support non-French speaking students in French schools. The National Education system guarantees to all children age 6-16 living in France access to education, regardless of their nationality, personal situation, or lifestyle. Many students who move to France do not necessarily speak French and it is the responsibility of the Ministry to provide for their needs. Their education is organised according to several principles: fighting discrimination, coordinating receiving procedures, acquiring the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills and Culture, and learning French as a second language. Students are assessed upon entry into the French school system and placed in classes according to their academic abilities, previous schooling, and age. In order to succeed, students are taught in special teaching teams that allow them to be enrolled in classes with their French peers while simultaneously receiving special instruction in French as a second language that is tailored to their needs and previous language experience.

How it Works

Upon entrance into French schools, students who need language education are assessed on their prior learning and abilities. This aims to determine the most suitable class for them, that which is most similar to their previous schooling. After being enrolled in mainstream classes with French speaking students, non-French speakers participate wholly or only part time in special programmes which help them learn French (UPE2A, language tutoring, temporary accomodation courses). Students who have little or no previous schooling from their country of origin can also be enrolled in specifically designed programmes (UPE2A-NSA).

Almost 90% of non-French speaking students benefit from special language courses or tutoring. This type of support is most common in Lower Secondary school where 91% of non-French speakers benefit.

Key Figures 2014-2015

  • 52,000 students with specific needs for assistance in learning French as a second language were enrolled in French schools
  • 25,500 in primary; 22,300 in lower secondary; 4,700 in upper secondary
  • 9 out of 10 benefit from some type of special education course
  • non-French speaking students are taught in 9,200 schools and educational establishments across France
  • 64% of elementary school students are taught at the class level which corresponds to their age, though this percentage declines with older students
  • 71% of non-French speaking students who receive language assistance arrived during the course of the school year

For more information about the enrollment and teaching of non-French speaking students in schools, click here.



What is éduscol?

Eduscol, the website of the Directorate-general for Schools of the French Ministry for National Education, is aimed at education professionals and, primarily, teachers. Its purpose is to provide them with information by presenting official texts and offering resources to support their implementation on the ground.

Mis à jour le 10 mai 2017
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