A question we often get as we talk about our school in the greater Tampa Bay area is, “Why French?”, usually in the context of discussing the prominence of Spanish in this region. It is one that can be answered on a couple different levels – a broad geographical and practical level, and a more subtle, yet crucial, educational level – so we thought we would go more in-depth here and explore this key question.
Geographical And Practical
Here in the United States, it is true that Spanish is the second most spoken language after English; however, worldwide, French is spoken by over 200 million people in 55 countries, on 5 continents. French is also one of the official languages in 32 countries and is widely spoken throughout Canada, Europe, the Middle East and many parts of Asia, but it is the French presence in Africa, where French-speaking countries make up a total area that is larger than the United States, that poses the greatest potential for growth of the language in the coming decades.
With such a large part of the world speaking French, there are many educational and career paths that our bilingual students can pursue as they get older, including studying in France, joining economic development or humanitarian organizations in Africa, or pursuing careers in business, journalism, diplomacy and the arts – these opportunities and more are only enhanced by the ability to speak French. Additionally, France has a large economic presence in the U.S. with 2800 companies doing business here so even staying at home offers opportunities to use the language and differentiate yourself to potential employers.
At our school in Maine, L’Ecole Française du Maine, we are seeing the long-term fruits of our immersion program as our first students are now approaching the end of college. One of our parents in The Power of Immersion series, Richard, speaks to the opportunities these students have enjoyed, both studying and working abroad, and how he’s looking for the same for his children:
Educational – The Merging Of Two Successful Approaches
Perhaps the best answer to the “Why French?” question lies in the combination of a proven preschool and elementary education system with an immersion environment to learn a second language. As our Head of School, Willy LeBihan, points out in the video below, the French preschool and elementary education system has a stellar worldwide reputation. It is also very consistent throughout the world – for example, a student could be in our French school in St. Pete in 1st and 2nd grade, then move to Paris for 3rd grade and be right in line with everyone else. This structure and consistency in the curriculum, and history of success, is why the large French network of schools is sought after throughout the world, and includes over 50 schools in North America.
Immersion is by far the most natural and best way to learn a language and, when done at a young age, becoming bilingual is virtually effortless. Knowing that second language brings tremendous cognitive and academic benefits, and makes learning third and fourth languages much easier – it all starts with becoming bilingual at a young age. Yes, this can happen in any language but when you combine this early immersion with the renowned French education curriculum, featuring authentic French teachers, it brings together the best of two vitally important worlds – and the answer to the question, “Why French?”
Please visit our video page for more insights about our school and, if you think our school could be right for your child, take a moment to fill out the brief contact form on that page and we will be happy to answer your questions and help you explore a possible fit. Merci!