In a city that is afraid of nothing and ready to embrace innovative ideas, the French dual language program in New York City’s public schools, with half the instruction time in French and the other half in English, is booming.
There are many proven benefits to speaking two or more languages at a young age. Bilingualism increases mental flexibility for children; prepares them for academic and professional careers; results in higher scores on verbal standardized tests and better performance in math and logic skills; and builds self-esteem and creativity. Bilingual children also develop sensitivity towards other people and cultures while maintaining a strong sense of their own identity.
As of 2014, seven NYC public schools and one NYC charter school offer a French-English dual language program for over 1,000 students, making French the third largest dual language program, after Spanish and Chinese. And demand continues to grow, with at least seven groups of parents in different areas of the city lobbying their schools to participate.
Having spearheaded the launch of New York City’s two oldest French dual language programs, PS 58 in Brooklyn and PS 84 in Manhattan, EFNY continues to support two groups of parents: those seeking to strengthen existing programs, and those seeking to launch new programs in elementary or middle schools. Without committed parents pushing for these programs, they simply would not exist. It is the parents who, working with EFNY, have identified the schools that may embrace a dual language program, and then convinced principals and NYC Department of Education officials to create them.
EFNY also works very closely with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy to support their outreach to parent leaders throughout the city. To learn more about the work of the French Cultural Services in support of dual language programs, click here.
Because our partnership with the French Embassy has been so fruitful, in 2013-2014, EFNY conducted extensive outreach to the diplomatic delegations of Canada and Quebec. We did this via two dual language teachers and a dual language parent – two of whom are Canadian citizens and two of whom are or were on EFNY’s Board. We did this both to raise awareness of the dual language programs among francophone Canadians, and to explore opportunities for shared resources. As a result of this concerted outreach, NYC’s French dual language programs now have access to French language books from Canadian vendors that are far less expensive than the vendors previously available to the schools.
EFNY is actively seeking to conduct outreach to the diplomatic delegations of other francophone countries. If you are a citizen of a francophone country and are interested in engaging your diplomats on behalf of these programs, and interested in thereby alerting your fellow citizens about this educational opportunity for their children, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.