EFNY, Education en Français à New York – French Education in New York, was officially created in 2005 by a small group of French speaking families. This group wanted to share their language and culture with their children and offer them the opportunity to have practical and affordable French language instruction. EFNY was and remains staffed almost entirely by parent volunteers, except for the teachers.
Initially, EFNY organized Saturday morning classes and French language play groups. It quickly became clear that from an educational perspective, these efforts were not sufficient. A child must be socialized in a language so that the language really becomes his or her own. Before entering school, bilingual children can very quickly lose a language they speak natively if it is not the dominant language in their environment. In addition, children cannot successfully master the written language without being part of a bilingual program. True acquisition of a language requires sustained learning, and EFNY facilitates this learning through two innovative programs, one in school and one enrichment program.
The French enrichment language programs, or FLAM (Français Langue Maternelle), seek to aide children in acquiring the French outside the regular school curriculum. In 2006, EFNY began running these programs in New York City public schools thanks to the tireless work of the all-volunteer staff. Over the years the program has evolved based on the needs of the local communities.
In 2013, building on its success and expanded activity, EFNY began additional efforts to improve the efficiency and reach of the organization. Principal efforts focused on more diversified program development, teacher training and better outreach.
On a parallel track, and since it founding, EFNY started seeking NYC public school principals willing to commit to hosting French dual language programs, and started persuading the NYC Department of Education that this was a phenomenon they should support, even though there was not a single French dual language program in NYC at that time. EFNY was the force behind the creation of the program at PS 58 in Brooklyn in 2007, and the program at PS 84 in Manhattan in 2008. Since then four more elementary programs and two middle schools have been launched, allowing the programs to reach over 1,000 students.
Today, EFNY continues to mobilize the francophone community and serve as the voice of families who share the objective of developing French language instruction in New York City’s public schools.