Pretty much everyone assumes that after almost three years in Paris, all of us are fluent French speakers. And oh the disappointment when I tell them "no." And oh the clucking when I mention that we put the kids in international school where all their courses (except of course French!) are in English.
Let me blunt. You wouldn't question a couple's sleeping arrangements or how they handle their money, would you? So please, for the love of God, don't poke your nose into their choices about schools. It's just as personal. What works for your kid doesn't necessarily work for mine. In fact, what works for one of my own kids doesn't necessarily work for the other. As for the choices we made? I have zero regrets.
In the end, it all comes down to this: just what is the goal of an expat experience? Fluency in another language? Fluency in another culture? Integration in another culture? I suppose it's all possible, given enough time, the right set of circumstances, and some luck. But it's not a competition folks where you get extra points for mastery of the subjunctive or for the number of dinner invitations you receive. And frankly I've heard enough stories about American women who've married French men, spent the better part of their adult lives in France, raised French speaking children, and still feel somewhat out of place, to know it's mere delusion to think that I could do otherwise.
So yes okay, I admit I would love it if my kids were fluent in French, able to pop in and out of languages without missing a beat. I'd love it if I could do that too. But you know what? They know a lot more French than they would have had we stayed in DC and they do quite well, albeit quietly, in situations where there aren't other English speakers around. My bottom line: they are generally happy kids who've adjusted marvelously to unfamiliar situations. And if they speak a little bit of French, so much the better. What more could a mother want?