Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley Preschool

Community Subscriber

Berkeley, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

Type: 
Preschool
DSS Facility License #: 
Owner: 
Ecole Bilingue
(510) 549-3867
mjohnson [at] eb.org
Location: 
Berkeley
94710
W. Berkeley on 10th St.
Maximum Capacity: 
100
Language(s) Spoken: 
English, French
Ages Served: 
30 months - 60 months
Hours: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
7:30am - 6:00pm
Additional Services & Features: 
Pre-K program, K-5 afterschool available, Snacks provided, Potty training support
Editors' Notes: 
About Our Program: 

Founded in 1977, Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley offers a high quality bilingual education from preschool through 8th grade. Our Preschool (maternelle) offers a structured yet nurturing environment to children 2.9 years and up. We provide an inviting and creative playbased, developmentally appropriate program that follows the French Curriculum. French is taught 80% of the time and once a day, for 50 minutes, our English teachers come to the classroom to instruct the children in English. We accept children that have not been exposed to French before. The school benefits form a strong, diverse and welcoming community of families. Our preschool is accredited by the French Ministry of Education. 

Parent Q&A

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  • Les Petite Francophone vs Ecole Bilingue

    (4 replies)

    Hi, my wife and I are currently looking into preschool options for next year for our daughter who turned 2 a couple months ago. Because my wife is French we are gravitating toward a French preschool although we are keeping our options open. The two schools were are looking at are Les Petits Francophones in Oakland and Ecole Bilingue in Berkeley. Are there current parents or anyone else who can tell me their pros and cons of the two schools (excluding the obvious price difference) and their opinions on the social and ethnic diversity of the schools? It could be a pipe dream but as my wife and myself both grew up in low-income households and worked our butts off to become financially stable and as we are both minorities we would really like our daughter to go to a diverse school with people of various nationalities and economic levels a well as providing a great education. We also want to make sure she's culturally aware of the different nationalities and that she doesn't grow up thinking she's privileged. Thanks for the help!

    We looked at both schools and ended up choosing Les Petits Francophones (LPF). While we loved EB, the enormous cost and the distance from our home were prohibitive for us. We have been very happy with LPF, and I'm honestly not sure spending the extra money for EB, especially at the preschool level, would have made a difference. The teachers and staff at LPF are warm and loving, and all are native French speakers. We are also a bilingual English-French household and have noticed a big improvement in our son's French since he started at LPF. Finally, the students and teachers at LPF are diverse, socially and ethnically (I seem to recall from our tour of EB that all of the teachers were white French people, though that may have changed). 

    Our family is French-speaking, multiracial, and part working class/low income background, so we have a lot in common.  We know families who have been involved with both Les Petits Francophones and Ecole Bilingue, but since we haven't personally attended either school I would not want to make some sort of public comment about either as it's all secondhand.  However, we are currently enrolled at Francophone Charter School in Oakland and I can't say enough positive things about this wonderful, diverse gem of a school.  We are counting our lucky stars every day that our children can attend this school for free, become truly fluent in French, and still spend their days in an environment that reflects the world around them.  That means a sustained focus on global Francophone culture (vs. a France-centric approach) as well as learning alongside children from a full spectrum of neighborhoods, cultures, and backgrounds in Oakland and the East Bay.  The school is still new, so that brings with it lots of challenges, but the staff and parents are so creative and resourceful, the teachers have been uniformly excellent, and we love the families who are invested in making the school grow.  So if French is important to you, take heart: even if you go to a non-French-speaking preschool this is a unique opportunity for language immersion in a truly diverse environment later on.

    Hi there, our son just started preschool at EB this year. For sure, the cost is high (and for someone who grew up in France where education is basically free, this is a hard pill to swallow...) - but I know EB has financial aid programs, and your family may also qualify for financial help from the French government. We did consider Les Petits Francophones also, but decided against it, mostly because of its location - we live in Berkeley and the commute just wouldn't have worked with our jobs. We also liked the fact that EB is not only a preschool, but has a K-8 program as well - so there is continuity (if you want that). So far we're happy with our choice: many of the kids in our son's class come from cross-cultural families (like ours) and we've been really impressed with the teachers. It really feels like they are focusing not only on academic excellence, but also on social responsibility and critical thinking. They are currently developing a restorative justice initiative in the Lower School, which I think is great. As far as your fear of raising a child who feels privileged... this is definitely not your average school - the facilities are top-notch, they have a gardening area, indoor gym, an amazing library... To me the key is to help children comprehend that they are in fact lucky to be able to attend a school like this one, not to take this for granted, to be grateful for the opportunity, and to make the most of it. Having grown up in a place where education is free (from preschool to university) and having attended good schools does in fact feel like a privilege, but I don't see it necessarily as a bad thing if I don't turn a blind eye to the experience of others, who didn't have that chance. Let me know if you have specific questions and would like to connect directly. :) 

    We have been at Ecole Bilingue since kindergarten (now in middle school) and we all love it there. The community is great – there is a lot of diversity both culturally and socio economic. There are families fromall over the world and eb fosters a very global worldview. It is an expensive school, however they do offer financial aid and for French citizens there is also the Bourses Scolaires. 

Parent Reviews

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I can only speak to Ecole Bilingue. My son started there just shy of 3 years old, and he is now in 3rd grade. Though no one in our family speaks French, we chose EB because the preschool teachers are amazing. They are certified both in the US (where there are minimal requirements to be a preschool teacher) and in France, where they are certified to teach preschool through elementary school. Many of the EB preschool teachers have decades of teaching experience and a deep appreciation for the importance of early childhood learning. The EB community is welcoming, multilingual, and international. Also, the school is very well run, administration communicates well with parents and have been responsive when things have come up. They pivoted to online learning in a day (!) after the shelter in place orders took effect in March 2020, then came back in person with well thought-out plans, and have managed the tumultuous past 2 years splendidly.   Most importantly, my son LOVES school. 

RE: Which Preschool? ()

This is our sixth year at Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (EB). We have a son in third grade who started in pre-school and a daughter in Kindergarten, who also did two years in pre-school at EB. The school's approach to second language acquisition is fun, engaging and developmentally appropriate. The teachers immerse the students in songs, stories and play in French, making the environment very rich in language. My son reads, writes and communicates proficiently in French and English. I'm so thankful to all of the hardworking, caring and professional staff at EB. Everyone, from the classroom teachers, gardening teacher, PE and music teachers, create an environment where children thrive and feel cared for. 

RE: Which Preschool? ()

Our child enrolled in preschool at Ecole Bilingue a few years ago and we remain very pleased with her education and experience.  EB continues to check all the boxes on your concerns (warm teachers, gentle, no bullying, etc.) as her education progresses. The first days, weeks, and months of preschool and the associated separation can be hard on all parents and children (including those kids who attended a day care or had working parents). It is completely normal for tears on both sides. The teachers at EB did a wonderful job helping manage the transition. There was no shortage of hugs and calm words for the kiddos who were upset.   

The administration has an excellent open door policy for parents with any concerns, and is proactive about resolving issues if/when the arise. The curriculum is a little more structured than some of the purely "play based" options out there, but the days do not lack in opportunities for play by any means. There is a good balance and an abundance of art, stories, and singing. Also lots of opportunities to volunteer if you're interested.

Obviously EB is an immersion program which adds an additional consideration - one that I view as an enormous benefit.   While we don't speak French at home (my husband did study it in school) and our child had no prior French exposure, it has been a non-issue. Another benefit is the overwhelming diversity and global representation within the school. It is truly a melting pot of cultures, religions, and family structures.  If these things appeal to you, then I think you would be very happy enrolling your child at EB.

Hi,

My son attends Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (full disclosure I also work there) and has been there since he was 3. He is about to start kindergarten next year and I’ve been extremely happy with his education there. I’m also French and it sounds like the school you are looking for is EB! Kids can enroll when they are 2 (toute petite section), the educational model is immersion 80% instruction in French, 20% in English until grade 2. Over 50 nationalities are represented within the parent body so the community is truly multicultural. I encourage you to call the director of admissions Manon Johnson or schedule a tour so you can get a better sense of the school. Bonne chance!

Hi Alma,

The bilingual school Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley has a preschool and is accepting children as young as your daughter. I recommend contacting them to see if they have space: ww.eb.org their admissions director is called Manon Johsnon. The school is located steps from San Pablo park, by the Berkeley Bowl West.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Nov 2013

Re: French Language Preschool

We have a son in EB, Grade 3; we started him at MK, the year before Kindergarten. We chose EB over other options because: We wanted an immersion education; our friends and colleagues recommended the school -- they said their children were very happy there; EB is accredited by the French government and the California Association of Independent Schools, which was important to us because we wanted to be sure the curriculum had depth and credibility; and we found that EB had an exceptionally diverse, international parent community. As a result EB, which has been around for 30+ years, has an international network of alumni, many of whom remain close to one another.

This far EB has been an excellent experience for us, and for our son. The teachers are excellent; they are usually from France or from Francophone countries and really know their stuff -- and they really know your kid. We like the teaching style, which is structured and curriculum-driven, but in which singing and art are integrated into all aspects. The EB community has created an excellent private school but one without a feeling of privilege and exclusivity. Our son is speaking and reading French with no help from us; we are totally non-Francophone. He has become an eager reader in both languages, and a budding essayist (albeit one in dire need of Spellcheck). Please feel free to email me if you have further questions. And good luck with your choice of school! Isha



My husband and I have two children at Ecole Bilingue, one in third grade and one in kindergarten. Our third grade son began EB in kindergarten and did not speak any French. Despite this, when our son began first grade, he was extremely well prepared in both languages due primarily to his dedicated and excellent teachers. Our second child began at EB in preschool, is now in kindergarten, and speaks fluent French. We think this illustrates the importance and benefit of starting a bilingual education in preschool as it gives the child a baseline preparation for the more rigorous education that begins in first grade. We have been very pleased and happy with all aspects of EB's academic program. We have had amazing experiences with each of our children. EB offers a full-immersion French curriculum to children from preschool through eighth grade. It has more than 50 nationalities in the community which makes for a rich bilingual environment in which the children learn.What also distinguishes EB from other schools we think is the strong sense of community which means some very specific things to us: a diverse circle of friends or our children from many different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds; a diverse circle of friends for my husband and I as well, which has allowed us to form a wonderful circle of friends; the opportunity for our children to learn and grow in a richly diverse environment; parents, teachers and administrators working together collaboratively for the benefit of our children; and the general sense of support one feels when the community is aligned as one for the benefit of our children. Michelle



Feb 2013

Re: EB vs. Renaissance School for preschool thru 8th grade
Hi-- I'm a parent of an EB kindergartner. We started our son there when he was in preschool.

Why did we choose EB (and why do we continue to love it?)? #1 for us was diversity. EB is not just diverse in the sense we all hope and expect Berkeley schools to be--it's internationally diverse. 40+ countries represented. There's just no other student body in the East Bay bringing the world together like that on one campus, and that opportunity to broaden our son's perspective not just in theory but with a broad multi-cultural experience was something we couldn't pass up.

Our actual experience of that diversity has been everything we had hoped and more. He has had teachers from Africa, France, and the U.S. just in his two years. He has friends who speak Farsi, German, French (of course), and Hebrew.

All of these cultural strains produce challenges--which is great! We love the different perspectives, norms and values that different kids/families bring. And EB has a really good environment to make those differences work: small class sizes; a tolerant but structured setting; a genuinely warm and caring school community. So you get the benefits of international diversity with the intimacy that helps bring it together.

We also chose EB due--truthfully--to the engaged classrooms we saw during our campus visit. We were pretty blown away by the energized, focused kids we witnessed even as they got up into the classrooms filled with pre-teens. The school does a really good job of promoting a love of learning.

As for the ADHD factor, I can't speak to that specifically, but I can say that the admin has been overall very responsive about whatever needs we and our friends have brought up (from allergies to shy children struggling to present special projects to their classmates). And EB is certainly challenging and will keep your child engaged. It's a pretty rigorous curriculum (but not until first grade--until then it's mostly community-building, social skills building, play-based, and language intensive of course, etc.)

We have a wonderful group of parent friends at EB, ranging from wealthy lawyer families up in the hills to artists struggling to make ends meet. Some go on ski trips all the time and some can't figure out how they'll pay for summer break activities. It's a pretty good cross-section and everyone seems to come together.

We're also excited about the much greener, more open campus that is coming in the next year or two as part of a major campus expansion and renovation.

Best of luck as you explore your choices! Happy and Impressed EB Parent



It is indeed hard to choose a pre-school! We didn't consider the Renaissance School so this post is not a direct comparison -- it's more a comment on our EB experience. We have a son in EB, Grade 2; this is our 4th year at the school.

We chose EB because:
(1) We wanted an immersion education;
(2) Our colleagues at UC Berkeley with children at EB highly recommended the school for its academic as well as its cultural qualities;
(3) EB is accredited by the French government and the California Association of Independent Schools, which we thought gave the EB curriculum credibility and recognition;
(4) The parent community is exceptionally diverse -- in a global and not just in a US sense -- so EB children seemed to be in a mini-UN environment; and
(5) EB has been around for 30+ years and has an international network of alumni, many of whom remain close to one another long after their EB years.

We are staying with EB because:
(1) Our son loves his school, his teachers, his friends, his friends' parents, his after-care supervisors, his pretty much everything at EB;
(2) The teachers are excellent; they are usually from France or from Francophone countries and really know their stuff -- and, as important, they really know your kid;
(3) We like the teaching style, which is structured and curriculum-driven, but in which singing and art are integrated into all aspects of the curriculum;
(4) The EB community is wonderful -- truly international and socio-economically diverse -- creating an excellent school without a feeling of privilege and exclusivity; and
(5) Our son is speaking and reading French with no help from us; we are totally non-Francophone. (At least, we *think* he is speaking French when he's not speaking English, and the parents of his French, Canadian, Senegalese and Vietnamese friends seem to understand him).

Good luck with your choice of school. Each child is unique so it's always a bit of a leap in the dark when you choose a school for your child. But for us, at least thus far, EB has been a great way to go. IR



My son has been at EB since he was 3 (he started in his PK year, the first year of the maternelle/preschool). I don't have any experience with the Renaissance school, but I can tell you about our experience at EB, which has been very positive. We don't speak French at home, so he had no previous exposure to French. However, he is an articulate child and he places a high value on understanding and being understood. For this sort of child (or really for any child), the first year in an immersion or bilingual school can be hard if one doesn't already have a certain comfort level with the language. In our case, the first year was challenging, but the teachers at EB were nurturing and created a positive environment for him. By his second year of preschool he was happy and settled and becoming comfortable in French. Now he is in second grade and is so fluent that French parents at the school assume we are French speakers when they hear him talk. As for the school's community, it is a wonderful community of families. We have made very close friends through the school, and we love the EB events. EB is extremely multi-cultural, which was important to us. The playground is lively and happy, both during recess and in the after-school program. The preschool's playground is separate from the big-kids playground, but if you go check out the playground, you'll get a sense of what life would be like for your child there. EB is also investing heavily in its campus, and has plans to expand the playground and facilities in the next few years. But already the campus is really nice, with lots of running-around space and spaces to accomodate kids interested in all different kinds of games and activities. I also appreciate the drop-in system for the after-school program - no up front commitment, just a pay-as-you-go system where you only pay for the actual time your kid spends in the after-school program. So, I recommend EB highly. Our son has had really wonderful, warm teachers, and is very happy there. He complains when I pick him up early because he wants to stay at school. Happy EB mom



Hi, We have our kids at EB. We are french. I have few things to say about the school, only positive. The 1st thing is how happy we are about the way they deal with our oldest who has ADHD. They were very helpful and understanding even before we had the diagnostic. Teachers are fantastic and take time to talk to you and help your child. They are capable to adapt to difficult situation. The 2nd thing is even if we speak French at home, their French improved right away. I thought they would help their classmates and not learn. I was wrong. My kids in comparison with their cousins in France have as good a level as them. Actually, my daughter was with her cousin for the last week of class in France and did the evaluation there. The teacher was impressed about the result. About the discipline, they make the point on ''You have to respect each other''. You could walk in the hallway,see the classroom doors opened and hear how quiet it is. Kids are listening and very polite. Being French, I like it. I like the diversity too, being surrounded by different nationalities, cultures. Parties are wonderful, food always excellent. Best party of the year is ''La fete du marche'' where everybody can participate. It is a fundraising. I would be very sad if for any reason they couldn't stay at EB and they would be too. An happy maman from EB


 


Nov 2010

We are just starting to research preschools for our son and wanted to get feedback on Ecole de Bilingue. We are interested in hearing about your experience! Thanks!


Hi,

It is difficult to sum up our family's experiences with EB in a small enough space to fit in this newsletter, but I'll try.

We have 3 children at the school. We have now been in all of the levels... maternelle (preschool), elementary, and middle. Our older two both started when they were 4 in what EB calls MK, and our third child started when he was 3 in their PK program. We are not a French family, neither by birth nor heritage. We speak English at home, but both parents have enough knowledge of French to be able to help with some of the homework. Clearly, we are very happy overall with the school!

It would be helpful to know what you are wanting and/or expecting from a school. You don't put forth any questions so it's a little challenging to know what direction to take with this! But a few of the things I LOVE about EB are: very receptive teachers and administration, my kids were able to read and speak and write in two languages by the end of first grade, there is a really great balance between the ''french-ness'' and the ''berkeley-ness'' at the school, and the diversity of the community.

The school has over 30 years of experience in balancing the requirements of the California curriculum as put forth by the state AND the French curriculum as set by the French Ministry of Education. The teachers are really great and the administration does a fantastic job making up classes that work very, very well. And there are financial aid possibilities, one route administered by the school and the other by the French Consulate for families who hold French citizenship .

I would be more than happy to answer specific questions or talk further with you about EB. It is not all a bed of roses... but NOTHING ever is! Please feel free to contact me if you wish. the_missus


My son started at the Ecole Bilingue at age 3. He spent two years of preschool, and is now in K. He has been very happy there. It is a wonderful community, and the teachers are excellent. He loves going to school and actually misses it when vacations come around. We don't speak French at home, but he speaks it quite well now. I was glad that he started in preschool, because the transition to K was very easy. I recommend EB highly. MB (mom of a Kindergartner)


We have two children at EB, a boy in 3rd grade who started in kindergarten and a girl who started this year in ''middle kindergarten'' (the French equivalent of second-year of preschool). We are very happy with EB not only because of the bilingual program, but because it instills a truly global perspective, with students from US, France, Africa, Caribbean, Asia, Latin America and Asia. Our children started without French at home, and had been at an English speaking, play-based preschool before EB. The first few months were a bit of transition, where they seemed to enjoy the 1 hour/day of English most (it is an immersion program that is 80% French until grade 2). However, the teachers are very caring, and 50%+ of the students are not French-speaking coming in, so the transition worked. Based on our experience, I would recommend starting in the 3-year old program (called PK), rather than waiting for MK (4-year old) or K (5-year old/kindergarten). It would make the adoption of French easier, and I am confident in the developmental aspects of the preschool program.

One comment: I would not consider EB only for preschool unless you plan to transfer to another French speaking school after. I think to get the full benefit of the bi-lingual education, you should be committed until 5th grade. We weren't necessarily thinking that we would stay past 2nd grade going in, but now that we are there, we definitely think it makes sense to stay and really imprint a base of both languages on our children's education. A. G. L


I believe the ''why'' of sending your child to EB as opposed to other schools has been answered in previous posts, but perhaps if you're wondering ''when'' one ought to enroll their child at a bilingual school such as EB, perhaps I could share my perspective.

I have two children aged 4 (daughter) & 5 years (son) old who both are currently enrolled at EB. We moved to the Berkeley area last year when my daughter was three years old. Since she'd not yet had any formal schooling (her brother attended a wonderful play based preschool in Palo Alto-Bing Nursery), we wanted to expose her initially to a play based system. Ultimately, we enrolled our son in mid-Kinder at EB while our daughter attended Step One school in Berkeley.

After a wonderful year at Step One where my daughter thrived, we wondered if we ought to keep her there another year, or enroll her at EB. Specifically, our concerns were a) that the transition from a play based (and English based) model to a more structured system would be too drastic and b) the 8:30-3:15pm daily schedule would be too exhausting. Suffice it to say, our concerns were unfounded, and we could not be any happier for her. She is quite engaged with the multitude of daily activities (eg, library time, gym time, story time etc plus plenty of unstructured play time). It seems that they are always teaching a new song, and-in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner- she recently sang and acted out two songs they learned for Grandparents' Day. All of this is a testament to the teachers, who are dedicated, extremely nurturing, and bright. She is picking up french at a rapid clip and is extremely happy at EB. As an added bonus, she was terrible napper prior to EB, now she seems to take a nap almost daily. In summary, we could not be happier at the decision to enroll our children there. IA


Sept 2007

Re: Finding a preschool
I would highly recommend Ecole Bilingue, the East Bay French Bilingual School. We sent our children there for all the reasons you cite: diversity, language, art etc After 8th grade, some of them went on to private schools and others to public schools. The school instilled great study habits. They learned a 2nd language effortlessly and received a terrific education which combined both French discipline and American curiosity. I just looked on line and though the tuition is stiff, EB is very generous with scholarships and you can get 55% financial aid. nhu