French Primary School in Vietnam: A Unique Educational Experience

Vietnam is a country celebrated for its rich cultural heritage and the diversity of its educational landscape. Among the array of educational institutions, French primary schools hold a distinctive and influential position. In this article, we will delve into the French primary school system in Vietnam which La Petite Ecole Ho Chi Minh is part of. We will provide an overview of the French education system, explore the subjects and experiences that children encounter in these schools, and shed light on the unique features that come with enrolling in a French primary school in Vietnam.

Overview Of The French Education System

The French education system is renowned for its rigor and comprehensive curriculum. In Vietnam, French primary schools follow this system closely, providing students with a strong academic foundation.

Age and Grade Divisions

The French curriculum is organised in learning cycles of 3 years, at the end of which students have to validate acquired skills of the official French Curriculum. Year of birth of children defines the class level as follows:

Kindergarten (Early Years school):

  • École Maternelle is the Early Years stage of the French education system, designed for children aged 3 to 6.
  • It consists of three divisions: Petite Section (PS) for 3 to 4-year-olds, Moyenne Section (MS) for 4 to 5-year-olds, and Grande Section (GS) for 5 to 6-year-olds.
  • The primary focus here is on early childhood education, socialization, and preparing children for primary school, through a play-based approach.
  • At the end of École Maternelle, students will complete cycle 1, which is the cycle of the first learnings.

Primary School:

  • École Élémentaire is the primary school stage, catering to students aged 6 to 11.
  • It comprises five grades: Cours Préparatoire (CP) for 6 to 7-year-olds, Cours Élémentaire 1 (CE1) for 7 to 8-year-olds, Cours Élémentaire 2 (CE2) for 8 to 9-year-olds, Cours Moyen 1 (CM1) for 9 to 10-year-olds, and Cours Moyen 2 (CM2) for 10 to 11-year-olds.
  • The end of CE2 marks the end of cycle 2, the cycle of fundamental learnings. Cycle 3 overlaps CM1 and CM2 plus the first year of middle school to reinforce cooperation between primary school and secondary school.

age and grade divisions

The Journey from “nursery school” to “elementary school”

Early Years School is an essential step of the students’ path to drive them to their school success. Its main objective is to motivate and give willingness to children to attend school in order to learn, confirm and fulfill their personality. Early Years School is the language school, which is aimed at helping students to progress, from “petite section” to “grande section”, towards the comprehension and the usage of an oral French and/or English language increasingly elaborated, and on which they will be able to rely on during reading learning. Project-based learning is offered all year round in order to support vocabulary and sentence’s structure learnings. Thus allowing a greater ease in language, useful to start reading.

Early Years School is a school where children will learn together and live together. They will develop their oral language and start to discover writings, numbers, and other learning areas: exploring the world, acting, expressing oneself, and understanding through artistic and physical activities. They learn through games, thinking by resolving problems, practicing, remembering, and memorising.

Primary School is the extension of Early Years School and consists of two learning cycles, aimed at developing skills in 5 areas:

  • languages, to think and communicate
  • methods and tools for learning
  • educating the person and the citizen
  • natural and technical systems
  • representation of the world and human activity

Focus is still on language to provide students the capacity to understand and speak, read, write and understand the language function.

What do Kids Learn in French Primary Schools in Vietnam

Core Subjects

In a French primary school, the core subjects encompass a broad range of fundamental disciplines. These subjects are designed to provide students with a well-rounded education and a strong foundation for their academic journey. At La Petite Ecole, each subject is taught in French and in English, as part of the multilingual program. The core subjects in a French primary school typically include:

  • Language:
    • Language and literature are central components of the curriculum. Students learn grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, and writing skills.
    • At La Petite Ecole, as part of the multilingual curriculum, language classes will be both in French, English and Vietnamese.
  • Mathematics:
    • Mathematics is a fundamental subject where students learn the following skills: collect, design, represent, think,calculate, and communicate. As students advance through grade levels, the complexity increases.
  • Questioning the world and Science:
    • Questioning the world (in cycle 2) and Science education (in cycle 3) covers topics like biology, chemistry, and physics in an age-appropriate manner. Students explore the natural world, conduct experiments, and develop scientific inquiry skills.
  • History and Geography (starting Cycle 3):
    • History lessons introduce students to historical events, figures, and the chronology of civilizations. Geography focuses on understanding the world’s geography, countries, cultures, and physical landscapes.
  • Physical Education:
    • Physical education promotes physical fitness, coordination, teamwork, and a healthy lifestyle through sports and activities.
  • Civics and Moral Education:
    • Civics and moral education instill values, ethics, and citizenship responsibilities among students.
  • Technology and Computer Science:
    • The primary school introduces basic technology and computer science concepts to familiarize students with digital skills.

These core subjects provide a comprehensive educational experience, fostering intellectual, creative, and physical development in primary school students. The curriculum is structured to gradually build knowledge and skills in each subject as students progress through different grade levels.


Cultural and Artistic Subjects

In a French primary school, cultural and artistic subjects hold a special place in the curriculum, nurturing creativity and cultural appreciation among young learners.

These subjects encompass a wide array of artistic expressions and cultural explorations. Art classes encourage students to unleash their artistic potential through drawing, painting, and sculpture, fostering self-expression and imagination. Music lessons introduce students to the world of melody and rhythm, where they not only learn musical theory but also engage in singing and playing instruments, enriching their auditory and creative senses.

Together, these subjects provide students with a profound understanding of the arts and culture, fostering an appreciation for artistic expression and cultural diversity from an early age. This holistic approach to education in French primary schools encourages students to explore their creative talents and develop a deep respect for the arts and culture..

Unique Points when Enrolling in a French Primary School in Vietnam

Rich Cultural Exposure

French primary schools provide students with a diverse cultural experience through a well-structured curriculum that emphasizes cultural studies, artistic expression, and language acquisition. Students engage with a variety of cultural activities and artistic subjects, including music and visual arts, promoting creativity and self-expression. Language classes not only focus on communication but also on exposing students to the linguistic richness of different languages. Field trips and extracurricular activities often involve visits to museums, historical sites, and cultural events, broadening students’ cultural awareness. This holistic approach ensures that students develop a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of different cultures, nurturing a global perspective.

Diverse Community

French primary schools in Vietnam offer a diverse and inclusive environment for students but also for parents and teachers. These schools often attract a mix of Vietnamese students and expatriates from various backgrounds, creating a multicultural atmosphere. This diversity not only enriches students’ social experiences but also fosters an understanding and appreciation of different cultures. Children have the opportunity to learn from their peers, share unique traditions, and develop a global outlook from an early age. This inclusive community encourages openness, tolerance, and a sense of unity among students, promoting a well-rounded and culturally aware education.

diverse community

In conclusion, French primary schools in Vietnam offer a holistic education that combines academic excellence with a rich cultural experience. Students benefit from a well-rounded curriculum, a diverse community, and exposure to the French language.

To find the school that best fits their expectations, parents should consider factors like location, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and the school’s values. Visiting campuses, speaking with teachers and current parents, and researching school websites can provide valuable insights. Ultimately, choosing the right French primary school can set the foundation for a child’s educational journey filled with growth, cultural enrichment, and academic achievement.



In conclusion, La Petite Ecole Ho Chi Minh not only embodies the advantages of a French primary school in Vietnam but goes a step further as a multilingual institution.

– We provide students with an exceptional education, a diverse community, and a rich cultural exposure through its unique multilingual approach.

– This approach, which includes teaching in French, English, and Vietnamese, offers an enriching experience that prepares students for a globalized world.

– Parents seeking a comprehensive and culturally diverse education for their children will find in La Petite Ecole Ho Chi Minh a nurturing environment that fosters academic excellence and personal growth.

Contact La Petite Ecole Ho Chi Minh – French International School to help your child experience the unique approach firsthand!

School address: 172-180 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.